Special Post: A Midlife Crisis?

By Scott Hughes

Under a Naked Sky - Scott Hughes

I’m interrupting this blog for an announcement and a more personal reflection.

You’ve probably noticed by now that this blog has tended toward the theoretical. I hope that’s helpful to you, and you’ll be seeing more of that. I am becoming increasingly aware, however, that perhaps subconsciously and more than I intended, the issues raised in the blog posts are personal. I didn't design the blog for that purpose. My intent has been to help church leaders be more effective and to help people who are struggling with identity issues (and who isn’t?).

The reason for this interruption and reflection is that today marks my 40th birthday.

Reflecting on this fact as of late, I wonder if this blog series is part of my own midlife crisis. The way research is trending (adolescence expanding and adulthood emerging later), perhaps my midlife crisis is still in front of me. One of the main issues in a midlife crisis revolves around the question: "Is this what I really want?" So those going through what has traditionally been called a midlife crisis wrestle with this question (consciously or perhaps, more usually, unconsciously) more concretely stated: "Is this marriage what I really want?" "Is this career what I really want?" “Is this (fill in the blank) what I really want?”

As I celebrate the transition into my fifth decade of life, I am aware that in recent months I have moved states and started a new job. My parents are nearing retirement, and my children are moving into their teenage years. Fortunately, all these transitions have been positive. Yet even in a small way during this shift into a new age bracket, my identity comes into question. Who am I now that I'm no longer in my 30s? Now that my body is beginning to breakdown easier? Now faced with the reality that I might have more years behind me than in front of me? What is my purpose now that my formal education has been completed and my work experience is all in a particular track? How do I function as clergy when I am not a pastor at a church? Is this what I really want?

Reflection Questions for Individuals:

Have you had a quarter-life or midlife crisis? How did you navigate it? Did your church help or hinder this transition?

What commitments (relational, functional, theological) define you?

Reflection Questions for Leaders:

How does your church celebrate adult life transitions? (retirement, new career, etc.)