February 08, 2023
As we move into new stages in our lives, and as we adjust to the limitations we now face, it is important that we take the time to evaluate how we can continue to contribute to Christ and His Kingdom. David and Karen Mains discuss this important subject by considering how they intend to address this issue in their own lives.
The better part of wisdom is learning to adjust to life stages. And it may even be, Karen, that is not just us trying to figure it out, it may be like that guy who said you’re exhausted, David. Now you’re not going to do this anymore. Because sometimes other people are able to see what we can’t see.
David: I know Karen that you are not a football fan, but here’s a really easy question. Okay, fill in the blank.
Karen: Okay, I’ll try.
David: Many football fans would say that blank, who is once again considering retiring, is the greatest quarterback who has ever played the game. Who might that be?
Intro: Welcome to the Before We Go podcast, featuring Dr. David Mains and his wife, noted author Karen Mains. Here’s David and Karen Mains.
David: Okay, do you have an answer, Karen?
David: Okay, go for it.
Karen: I think it’s Tom Brady, and if that’s who it is, it’s a miracle that I even know that.
David: Well, it’s not really. It’s been in the news for a long time.
Karen: About him retiring?
David: We don’t know if he’s going to or not.
Karen: I did look something up online this morning, and he is retiring. Let me get my computer so I can read it.
David: Do you actually say that he’s retiring?
Karen: Yeah, let me get the top lead line. He’s exiting the league as the winner of seven Super Bowls and NFL record as well as top the list for almost every major passing statistical category. Tom Brady, one of the world’s most decorated professional athletes and widely viewed as the greatest player in NFL history, announced Wednesday that he would retire for good this time.
David: Oh, goodness. Wow. We’re current.
Karen: Right up to the point on this one.
David: Yeah, okay. I’m going to right up front says what our key truth is for this visit, okay? The better part of wisdom is learning to adjust to life stages. I can’t cite a Bible verse that I want to read that seems to say that thing, but I can just in terms of the history that you read in the scriptures cite different people who are kind of Tom Brady-like. One of those would be David.
David: David is a remarkable man. He’s a man after God’s own heart. I don’t know if he looked like what Michelangelo carved in the stone.
Karen: In the rotunda. One of the rotundas in Warren.
David: When you walk in, you just think, oh my goodness.
Karen: Awesome. Awesome. I mean, it’s massive.
David: It’s giant size. If you look at David, that’s a great time to see him as a young man, as a conquering warrior, you know, and he becomes a king and all that. But I want to go later in David’s life.
Karen: Okay. So, he became king of his… well.
David: Yes, a long time before it happened, but he’s the king and now he’s into another stage in his life. And I want you to read from scripture.
Karen: Okay, this is 2nd Samuel. “Once again, there was a battle between the Philistines”
David: Who’s darn Philistine? They just never give up
Karen: “…between Philistines in Israel David went down with his men to fight against the Philistines and he became exhausted.”
David: That’s the first time something like this has happened. He’s pooped…
Karen: “…and Ishbi-Benob, one of the descendants of Rafa whose bronze spearhead weighed 300 shekels and who was armed with a new sword said he would kill David.”
David: He’s kind of a Goliath size.
Karen: Yeah, “Abishai, son of Zeruiah, came to David’s rescue. He struck the Philistine down and killed him. Then David’s men swore to him saying never again will you go out with us to battle so that the lamp of Israel will not be extinguished.” So, we have a different phase of life for David here.
David: They’re saying we can’t afford to have you getting killed in battle. And then if you continue it just in the first chapter of first Kings it talks about David. And again, this is a whole different picture than what Michelangelo carved in stone, and you’re so impressed by as you see it, read those would you.
Karen: “When King David was old and well advanced in years, he could not keep warm even when they put covers over him. So, his servant said to him let us look for a young virgin to attend the king and take care of him. She can lie beside him so that our Lord the King may keep warm. Then they searched.”
David: You got this picture of a shivering old…?
Karen: Yeah, he was shivering, bent. You see him bent. “And then they searched throughout Israel for a beautiful girl and found Abishag, a Shunammite, and brought her to the king. The girl was very beautiful. She took care of the king and waited on him, but the king had no intimate relations with her.”
David: He’s a pitiful figure. It’s not because something he’s done is wrong. It’s just that he’s aged.
David: It’s just watching the change of life as it takes its toll over a period of time. I’m thinking Karen for a long time, Shakespeare has been kind of a hobby. We’re not nuts about it, but we’ve seen an awful lot of Shakespeare plays and…
Karen: … we’ve gone up to the Stratford Festival for 45 years I’d say it’s a little nutsy.
David: Well… It’s the Stratford Festival in Stratford Ontario Canada where they have a Shakespeare theater The one that I’m thinking of the play is King Lear. Can you give a little of the story just for people who have never seen it? Okay.
Karen: A playbill synopsis right in front of me. So, I’m just going to read two paragraphs. “Lear, king of Britain, has decided to abdicate his throne and divide the realm among his three daughters.”
David: Okay. So, he’s recognizing …
Karen: … that he’s at a stage of life.
Karen: “To determine the size of each daughter’s share, he demands that each formally profess the extent of her love for him.” Maybe not so wise. “The two eldest, Goneril, the wife of Duke of Albany and Reagan, wife of the Duke of Cornwall, respond with extravagant speeches and are rewarded accordingly. But their younger sister, Cordelia, refuses to say more than that she loves her father according to her bond with the rest of her love necessarily reserved for her future husband.”
Now, one paragraph on the result of that. “Enraged, Lear disinherits Cordelia and banishes the Earl of Kent for attempting to intervene on her behalf. Now, dour less, Cordelia is rejected by one of her former suitors, the Duke of Burgundy.” We know why he wanted to marry her. “But the other, the king of France, readily agrees to take her as his wife.”
David: The king of France comes into the story later. He becomes one of the good guys. It’s an interesting thing. One writer, this is Freud, he says, “Lear, like other older men, has reached the stage when it’s incumbent upon him to renounce love, choose death and make friends with the necessity of dying.” Lear knows as much in his first speech in the play. He declares it is his fast intent to shake all cares and business from our age, conferring them on younger strengths while we unburdened crawl toward death. Yet at the same time, as he’s decided to quit another part of it, wants to hold on to what he’s had. He becomes, well, it depends on how Lear is played.
Karen: I think we’ve seen it five or six times.
David: Yeah, it’s an incredible play.
Karen: So, it’s interesting when you see the different directors and actors interpret Lear in a variety of ways.
David: Yeah, one is that he’s just an angry old man who doesn’t like.
Karen: And the reason is mine and really getting seen now and mad about it. Yeah.
David: Yeah. And then there is the part that really touches me because a lot of times when you’re on a Shakespeare play, you’re seeing an older audience. And Lear is played as someone who is almost moving into Alzheimer’s. You know, his mind is playing tricks on him, and he doesn’t understand the world that is going on and he’s struggling. And I remember one time he was playing with Duncan Campbell, a Canadian actor, and I sat there, and I almost cried. I just, I felt so much, and you could sense the audience.
Karen: Yeah, leaning in and empathy and feeling for the old man on the stage.
David: So, there is that sense in which age is a difficult, difficult deal. I would like to think that we could talk about aging in the same sense and that people would hear us. And they would say you’re doing it in a gentle fashion. How old are you by the way Karen?
Karen: I turned 80, I think it was last week and you are?
David: Well, I’m 86. So, we are getting up there and we’re processing this all the time.
Karen: Yeah, these are discussions that are lively to us right now. What stage of life are we in? We know we’re in our last years. What does that do to our function? How do we change our function? We’ve had discussions. Well we cannot do the things that we used to do when we were younger. We don’t have the energy. We don’t have the time. We don’t have the team. We have a part time staffers. We used to have 50 people on our staff so we can’t do those things. Part of, I think, what is hard for people like ourselves is the creative part of my mind is still very active. And so, I can think of someone, I did a personality evaluation and I was told that I was an idea entrepreneur.
David: You have all kinds of ideas, way more ideas than you have time to see the thrower.
Karen: I always have. And the lady who did this evaluation said, you’re the kind of person who needs about 200 people around you. Well, we don’t have that. So, I cannot do the things that I did in the past when we had a larger staff.
David: Okay, let me go back to what I say is a key biblical truth. The better part of wisdom is learning to adjust to life’s stages. So, we say, I’m not who I used to be. I’m not who I’m going to become. But I want to be who you intend me to be at this point in terms of my life.
Karen: And I think we have to do it in an honest fashion. Sometimes, we still hold the, should be, can be, would be, want to be into our thinking, but we have to do an honest evaluation. So, this is why it’s been good for us as a couple to work through, well we’re at a different stage and we’re seeing it because we’re in a small church and in the past we would have jumped in and attempted to help it grow. But we don’t have the time for that. Don’t have the energy. So that’s stimulated some of our conversation. What is it that we can do? And you discovered that one thing you could do or would be willing to do was be a consultant. And I think you would be fabulous in that role.
David: Yeah, if they want me to.
Karen: If they want you.
David: I would be very happy to do that. I would say that in my processing, and maybe in yours as well, I said, okay, what do I feel really strongly about?
Karen: At this time in my life?
David: And probably I feel most strongly about preaching because most of the time when I listen to sermons and other people talk about sermons they listen to, I can’t tell what the subject is and what the response is that is being called for. So, I figured out how to solve that problem a long time ago, which is I’m going to put it into a given sentence, which has a subject and it has a response. The better part of wisdom is learning to adjust to life’s stages. Okay, now I’ve done that. A lot of sermons I listen to. I’m trying to ask them, what is he talking about? Or what is she talking about? And what is the response this person wants? And I would say Karen, the vast number of times that I’m listening, and I listen to, whether it’s on television or radio or in person, if somebody else is preaching, I can’t tell what is being talked about. I can’t figure out the subject because of that. Can’t figure out what’s expected of me.
Karen: There’ll be a topic. You might be able to name the topic, but as we have often…
David: … more information,
Karen: Yeah, as we’ve often said, the goal of preaching or communication should be that when the listeners or the audience leave, they can tell you what your major thrust was and then go away deciding they’re going to do something about it.
David: Yeah, and have suggestions as to what they can do.
Karen: Yeah, right.
David: Yeah, a lot of today’s preaching is a series of what I would call devotional thoughts. It’s kind of like devotional thoughts will change you and they do maybe over the long haul. But they aren’t grabbing right through your stomach to your backbone and say, “Are you listening to me? Do you understand what I’m talking about?” That this is important and here’s how it’s supposed to affect you. You don’t usually get that kind of a feel. I’m not talking about hollering. I’m not talking about volume. I’m talking about content.
Karen: Yeah, it’s a well-organized content. I have probably a couple of passions that I would like to see taken care of before I go.
David: I just got it done to one. I want to see preaching change. I’m going to limit you to one.
Karen: Well, hospitality, of course, has been a theme. My first book was “Open Heart, Open Home.” I know that people are practicing hospitality less than they ever have, partly because we’ve just come through the COVID pandemic isolation. But I think, even before that, people were just not hospitable. One of the sociological studies, I think I’ve mentioned this on the podcast before, has shown that we are in a lonely culture. Theresa May, who was the former prime minister of England, did surveys and they find that there were many, many, many, many lonely people in Britain. It was what she called an epidemic. And she appointed a minister of loneliness to her consul. But here in the States, we have the same problem.
David: Same problem.
Karen: A part of that is that we’re focused on our screens, which are not really interactive, even zooming. They’ve done tests on that. They say that when people zoom, they basically watch themselves. But neurologists who study the effect of human interaction on the neurological system in the body say that as the face-to-face context, the reading one another’s expression, something is communicated. And that is not communicated in any other form. So, we need this face-to-face. And yet we have a nation filled with lonely people. People who are isolated from one another, from community, from small groups. So, I feel strongly about this and would love in my small way, with no staff, to do something about it. We have all the materials. I have my book, “Open Heart, Open Home.” I have opened our hearts and homes. It’s a study of the scriptures, an Old and New Testament on hospitality. We have posters that could be mounted on church boards.
David: So, you’re saying this is a part of the problem of the church as well.
Karen: It’s a huge problem. And it’s one the church could really begin to solve.
David: And when you say hospitality, that’s not the same necessarily as entertaining.
Karen: It’s no, it’s not entertaining. It’s inviting people. It’s welcoming people. It’s including people around the basis of our knowledge of Christ, who is a lot to say about accepting, welcoming, and reaching out. But it is a spiritual tool. It’s a gift of love. It’s a gift of care. So, I’ve organized all my things into piles and then said, “Lord, I cannot do this alone. I have the tools.”
David: That’s part of coming to grips with where you are in life.
Karen: Absolutely. I do not know how to do this. My role in this now is to just pray that you will lift up the people who have a similar passion, people who are nearby so we can get something started. I’d like to use our little top wish a couple.
David: So, you’re moving into kind of a consultant basis yourself.
Karen: Yeah, a consultant basis who has developed all the tools that could be used in a way to teach and to extend the gift of hospitality. And then to begin inviting people into their home.
David: Okay you’re saying I am not able to do what I used to do…
David: … but it doesn’t mean I can’t do something. But I have to sort through my priorities, if you please, and say these are the ones that are most important to me. I have to say I will befriend the people in this new church where we are. I will make myself available. A couple of times had some of the ministers who speak… asked me questions about my response to what has been said. And I’ve given opportunity, which they haven’t taken the bait yet, but I’m to the place where I’m saying, even if they asked me to preach, I don’t think I will do that because I don’t want to get into that cycle again. But I would be more than willing to say I will be a consultant. And I can be a consultant before you preach, or I can be a consultant after you preach. But I will be honest with you. And yes, I think what I have to share with you would be valuable. And you’re saying once again, I can’t travel all over the country like I once did. But I can try in one given place to conduct an experiment and see if we can move this given church as a part of the community into a place where we’re learning about hospitality from a Christian perspective. That means I have to start praying, yeah Lord, raise up the people who can come alongside me and do the things I can’t do. Help me mentor them as where you are in your mind.
Karen: Yeah, people who have a vision for it themselves. So yeah, that’s where I am and that’s no small thing. And I really think that at this stage of life, that one of the great contributions we can make. And I watch you just develop your prayer life over the last five years in an extraordinary way. But I think that’s something I need to be doing as well. Devoting most of my time and energy in this initiative to praying for God to raise up the people who have a similar passion.
David: We’re talking about ourselves but really, in a sense, trying to say let’s tell you how we’re modeling. If you please, or struggling, if you please processing if you, please. What about someone who’s listening to us? I’m assuming that most of the people who listen to this podcast are at least 50 60 70s. But there aren’t too many 20-year-old that I’m aware of who are listening. How do we help them?
Karen: Well, I think this is not age-related. This initiative to evaluate what are my gifts. What are the passions that God seems to be raising in the heart. And what is the way I can contribute to it. How do my gifts and resources… how can they be leveraged and reused in this way.
David: What connections do I need to make with other people who can fill holes that I can’t fill?
Karen: Yeah, right. I don’t think younger people do this much, but I think as we get into the middle years, we have more evaluative…
David: …you become more strategic
Karen: …more strategic
David: If you try to. If you don’t, soon earlier you’re going to run into a wall.
Karen: So, what we’re suggesting to our listeners is that they do this similar kind of process if they have not done it. Or if you did it years ago pick it up again and do another reevaluation of what you should be doing at this stage of your life with your abilities, with your physical strength, whatever it is with your health and your resources.
David: I’m going to give that sentence once again. The better part of wisdom is learning to adjust to life stages. And it may even be, Karen, that is not just us trying to figure it out, it may be like that guy who said you’re exhausted, David. Now you’re not going to do this anymore. Because sometimes other people are able to see what we can’t see.
David: But hopefully people can get into that kind of a mindset that says, “I’m trying to figure out Lord where I am in this whole journey of life. And how I can best be somebody who’s serving you in the most effective way possible.” If we’ve kind of moved people toward that and helped ourselves at the same time, I think we’ve accomplished something that at least I’m applauding a little inside.
Outgo: You’ve been listening to the Before We Go podcast. And if you would like to write to us, please send us an email at the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s all lower-case letters: email@example.com. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please remember to rate, review, and share on whatever platform you listen. This podcast is copyright 2023 by Mainstay Ministries, Post Office Box 30, Wheaton, Illinois 60187.
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