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20 June 2014

When to move on

When to move on

Jeremy Paxman. Photo credit: Wikipedia Peter Wright

News junkies and BBC addicts, such as I, have been challenged to contemplate a pretty bleak future in current affairs broadcasting because of Jeremy Paxman's decision to re-arrange his life so he can "go to bed at much the same time as most people".

I have no reason to believe that he has completed 25 years of presenting the late-night Newsnight programme begrudgingly. His light-hearted passing remarks suggest that a degree of personal sacrifice contributed to his well-earned success as a broadcaster - a good illustration that success in any vocation, calling or career requires personal sacrifice. This is an important message for the younger generation who may be of the view that instant gratification is the way forward.

Personal sacrifice is a must in order to achieve success, although of course we have to strike a balance in order to achieve a successful life. How we get this across to aspiring Christian leaders can be a challenge.

Another lesson from 63-year-old Mr Paxman, is the wisdom of appreciating the opportunities for new beginnings that come with the 'autumn years'. For example, time to 'stand and stare';and opportunities to reflect on life and celebrate achievements. There is also the chance to seize opportunities to do things one has always wanted to do such as volunteering, writing that book, travelling, or reading all the books you promised to read but never got the chance. The autumn years also bring the opportunity to mentor a younger person, actively encourage someone or take on the mantle of intercession for others who are where you were 10, 20, 30 years ago.

The value of critical reflection and its contribution to the 'becoming' process of discipleship and ministry formation cannot be over emphasised.

Well-timed retirement is important. Recognising new beginnings is a key element of the fulfilled life. There's energy around new beginnings - and at this age/stage although the way ahead might be unknown and a bit scary we can take it in the light of the journey thus far.

Sometimes people are hesitant to move on through fear of letting go. Worries that they have nothing worthwhile to contribute outside of their vocation or career, or the fear that people may think they have nothing further of value to contribute, can cause stagnation and depression.

There is also wisdom in knowing when to 'let go' and 'move on'. But the question is –move on to what? Caleb's attitude is instructive. Joshua 14:6-15. At 85 years old, he was wise and courageous enough to declare with intent: "As yet I am as strong …as on the day that Moses sent me… Now therefore, give me this mountain."

We can be like Caleb. Our different personalities and journeys will express this stage of life in a range of colours. But for all of us there are new choosings. And our best choices will become legacies beyond measure –priceless gifts to the next generation. Proverbs 13:22 is emphatically challenging: "A good person leaves an inheritance." For Jeremy Paxman, for me and for you, this is a new moment of choice.

Rev Phyllis Thompson is the education director for the New Testament Church of God