“Wisdom gained through life-experience may be one of the greatest benefits of mid-life,” explains Gary Fenton in his book Your Ministry’s Next Chapter (Baker Books). He writes, “During the early years of ministry, we have three primary sources for every sermon: Scripture, the work of the Spirit of God in our life, and insights we have gleaned from the text. The result is we frequently preach things we don’t really know to be true but that we accept as true from other sources. That’s only normal. We’ve had little life-experience. The young preacher risks sounding like an expert when in fact he has no experience from which to make application. He can sound much like a business consultant who draws his information from the latest book.

“But at mid-life I can preach to young parents with greater integrity because I can still remember on some level what it was like during those years. I may not even use a personal illustration, but I will likely not give a glib illustration that glosses over the needs of young parents. I have a greater sensitivity to their needs because I have been there…

“But here’s the temptation at mid-life: to preach from our most recent experiences. Unless I discipline myself, I find I speak from the last five years of my life. My wife ands I are now in the empty-nest stage. We know what it is like to send three kids off to college—it is an immediate issue for us. So I have to make an intentional effort to listen to families who are sending their children off to first grade, or who have a new baby.”

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