This past birthday brought me into my Jesus Years… 33-36. Conventional knowledge believes that Jesus began his public ministry at age 33 (and died at 36). These are the years we have recorded, save his birth and that testy trip to the temple when he was 12.
Contrast this with how our culture honors and encourages the “energy” of younger people, making it the goal. I remember hearing often in youth ministry a lament that the zeal had been traded in with time. We hear of “young leaders” in the community with the drive to get things done, who possess candor and personality but above all things, energy.
I’ve read the Bible. Several times, in fact. And not once do I ever hear praises ring for the Man with Boundless Energy. I can’t think of a Proverb that honors the Zeal and the Leader as we seek it out today.
But you know what I read over and over and over as the goal? The marking of a good life, of someone you want at the helm?
Which doesn’t come with exciting events or expensive conferences or dazzling trainings. After reading every single John Maxwell book, we’re still not guaranteed the honored virtue of wisdom.
Now that I’m entering an older phase, I see the folly behind our desire for youthful energy because we’ve traded down for the power of true wisdom to speak into our lives. Those who have lived a full, good life get quieted in the rear with the expectation that they’ve done their part and we must prioritize the future generations. (Not to disqualify the practice of being visionary and thinking about the future – those things aren’t to be ignored).
In ancient Jewish culture, men didn’t start their public ministry until age 33 (which is why we make assumptions about Jesus’ first public appearance). What a genius idea. While we miss those “energetic” years, we get a tamed down, more gracious version of the young leader. We get someone who has eaten enough of her words to know she perhaps should think long and hard before speaking. We have a person who has finally lived enough challenges to realize that Instructions for Life aren’t so cut-and-dried, black-and-white, a+b=c simple. We are, in fact, a bit messier than what we believed. Reading This Book or doing This Study may not yield immediate solutions.
What I missed in my 20s – sitting at the feet of those who have gone before – I want for my 30s. I’ve been able to learn from pretty stellar folk (and even some older than me), but I want to be intentional about meeting with and listening to individuals with decades more of life experience than myself. I love meeting with friends who share similar struggles (and I’m not trading those out). But I want voices that give me a broader perspective, that remind me that life is more than my current circumstances.
I still need to do more considering about my specific goals for my Jesus Years (I dug out my Life Management Plan this weekend had limited time to devote to it. It’s on the docket for the very near future. But not at 7:15am when all 4 children share my living room). However, one of the themes will definitely include seeking out wisdom in as many forms and from as many sources as possible.