Middle Developmental Phase: mid-thirties to mid-fifties
Most people firm up their life purpose and begin to function maturely in their gifts during this phase. This phase moves them towards their “major role”
A major role may or may not have a title attached to it, but everyone around them recognizes the godly weight and authority in which they are walking. When a leader emerges in their major role, it often brings with it great leadership challenges and, at times, a backlash from followers. The pressures of this particular season will reflect how much character work one allowed Jesus to do within him during the earlier phases!
This process is God’s work within us. We can’t really speed up the process. We’ll emerge either spiritually “weighty” or “thin” as we hit later phases, depending on our cooperation with God and obedient response to Him, or lack of them, in earlier phases. God will often use some very difficult circumstances to cause you to be open to step into something that you might not have otherwise felt quite ready to consider. Dr. Clinton calls this “negative preparation”. Having this perspective can save you from potential bitterness and disappointment.
Many people experience “boundaries” or “thresholds” as they leave one season of life and enter into another. These transitions can last from six months to six years, or longer. They are often marked by significant change and confusion, either internally or externally. They tend to follow a course of looking back at what’s transpired, then looking upward to God for understanding and direction, and then looking forward into a new season.
Boundaries are a space in time that God uses to prepare us for what He wants to do in and through us next. If you’re not careful, you can miss what He may be doing in you because you are solely focused on surviving what’s in front of you. Boundaries are God’s gracious way of taking away from us and adding to us so we are ready to run the next leg of the race He’s called us to.
Latter Development Phase: fifties to sixties
Those living in this phase clearly see their God-given destinies and are deliberately moving towards fulfilling it. Their actions come through the convergence of a mature character, seasoned gifts, and through identification of a God-given sphere of influence. They begin to “hit their stride”, obeying God and significantly advancing the Kingdom for God’s glory.
It’s in this phase where efficiency (doing things right) yields to effectiveness (doing the right things). The inner work of the Spirit continues to shape us in the image of Jesus. This is what you’ve been born for, what God’s been developing you for. Your aim is clear, your steps are deliberate, your life’s purpose is unfolding. Although you’ve been fruitful in making disciples throughout your journey, the fullness of fruitfulness in making disciple-makers is at hand!
Remember the life of Moses. His first forty years were spent in Egypt where he was provided with the best education of his day. The next forty years were spent in the wilderness where he was shaped into a man of God through trials and lots of time with sheep. His last forty years, following a transition which started with a burning bush, were spent delivering the people of Israel from Egypt and preparing them to enter their Promised Land.
If the average lifespan is seventy-five years, that means our first fifty years or so are all about God preparing us for what He wants to do through us in the final twenty-five. Think about that!