Advice on living a resilient life

Book Cover

Author: Peter Crumpler

There’s a question that older people ask me from time to time – it’s whether I can recommend them a book about ‘lifelong faith.’

What do they mean by this?

Well, often, they are asking me to suggest a book about ‘running the race’ as a Christian for the long-term. How can they maintain the faith that has sustained and inspired them through their youth and middle-age, into later life.

I always recommend Gordon MacDonald’s A Resilient Life. Other Church Champions may have their own favourites, but this is a book that I have read and studied multiple times. It’s down-to-earth advice and accessible language have provided a challenge to me through the past decade.

In ‘A Resilient Life,’ MacDonald, an author, speaker and teacher, sets out how lessons from his Christian athletics coach, delivered in his teens, have served him well throughout his life – and despite mistakes he has made, and admitted, along the way.

MacDonald writes that resilient people:

– Are committed to finishing strong
– Are inspired by a big-picture view of life
– Run free of the weight of the past
– Train to go the distance, and
– Run in the company of ‘a happy few’

MacDonald sets out the importance of taking the long view – that life is a marathon, not a sprint. He emphasises the need to examine our calling, our aims and our gifting and stresses the vital role of confession and absolution, and of practising forgiveness and gratitude. He encourages Christians to look to their physical health and rest, to keep curious and to continue lifelong learning.

And he underlines the importance of cultivating a group of close friends to whom you can be mutually accountable and support each other in your life and calling.

It’s a recipe that I find compelling and challenging.

MacDonald is also insightful about how older people may be regarded in a church context that focusses its life and worship on the young. At a conference of young worship leaders, he challenges them to consider what the older people in the congregation may have on their minds as they come to church.

It will likely be, says MacDonald, very different to the concerns of the younger people.

He asks them, “You’re worship leaders. How are you going to usher people into the presence of God if you don’t know the questions that form the big pictures in the hearts of the various generations you are leading?

“I suspect there are different questions for every age in life, perhaps every decade. Knowing them helps us to deal with people sensitively, and it gives us a better understanding of how to build a larger view of our own lives.”

I wonder how far the worship in many churches is focussed on the needs of all generations, including older people?

I commend this challenging, helpful book. It may help many Church Champions in their role, and also be a resource to recommend to others.

Every time I re-read it, I discover something new…