I’ve read about 40% of Gordon MacDonald’s book A Resilient Life and can only commend it with one SERIOUS reservation which, while not stripping the book of all value, places it in a category in which I could not give it to anyone without some explanation. I’ll comment on that when I have the opportunity to finish it.
I draw attention to the book at this point in order to extract from it something that MacDonald very well and which many should find useful. I refer to a portion of the book in which MacDonald helps us understand the questions that people are asking at various stages of their lives. This has value to me as a preacher but can be useful as well to any who are involved in teaching or leading adults.
Preachers, for example, have a message that they want to be heard. It is not merely an intellectual message appealing to intellectuals interested in discussing all the latest ideas. It is a practical message regarding a person’s place in this world and the purpose of his life. If I can preach Jesus in such a way that intersects the questions a listener is already asking, he is far more likely to give the message attention than if what I am saying appears to be ethereal and unrelated to the life he, or she, is living. In preparing a sermon or a lesson, it is good to ponder the questions the listener brings to the table so that one might address the content in such a way that it answers those questions. Do that, and we will be heard.
But getting a handle on what those questions are can be the tricky part. MacDonald has asked representative people from each decade of life to share with him the questions which most concern their peers. He asked this of twenty-somethings, those in their thirties, and each decade thereafter. His read on these questions seems to me to be highly accurate. I would like to share those with the readers of this blog.
But before I do that, I encourage those of you who are reading this and are interested to ponder what you think those questions might be. What questions are those in YOUR decade asking? What troubles them? What do they worry about? What occupies their innermost thoughts? What matters most to them?