4 Benefits of Being an Empty-Nester on the Mission Field
You’ve done the hard work. The kids are grown, the nest is empty, and it’s quiet. While you may find yourself relieved one moment, it won’t be long before you miss the action and the relationships of family.
For most of us, it doesn’t take long for the silence to become deafening in the absence of our now adult children, and for us to begin asking questions.
What’s next? What does normal look like now? How can I invest, rather than spend, my Golden Years?
All great things to give thought to, and while you do, here are four benefits to being an empty-nester on the mission field.
1. You get to cash in your “Wisdom Chips”
You’ve earned them and they’re yours to shell out or invest as you see fit. While you don’t want to squander the lessons you’ve gained in your life journey, consider this: investing your acquired wisdom and experiences into God’s Kingdom is an investment into eternity.
When you enter the mission field as an empty nester, you’re taking all of the life lessons you’ve gained with you. All of the great things you’ve experienced, and all of the mistakes you learned from.
These are the areas of life that you’ve had influence in and entering missions with that earned wisdom spells opportunity for bigger impact. The viewpoint you’ve arrived at gives you a strategic advantage for spiritual influence without direct control over other people’s lives.
In many situations, your experience, coupled with being a cultural outsider, works in your favour. In one field we served in, the college students we worked with developed trust and more openly shared with us than their own culture permitted, creating opportunities for Kingdom conversations.
2. Time to Make a Bigger Impact
As an empty-nester, you may no longer be constrained by a schedule packed with school projects, sports schedules, birthday parties, or many of the things busy parents are committed to.
Like many of us, maybe you have a tendency to fill these sudden gaps in your schedule with just about anything that is offered. However, applying a God-honoring purpose to your empty-nester years is a vital consideration.
As Gandalf told Frodo in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
Now there is a take-home truth no matter what season of life you may be in!
Whether you are called to missions or not, if you approach the empty nest life with a focus on Kingdom impact, your time could be strategically used to serve in ways or in places that you may not have even considered.
3. Strengthens (and Challenges) Your Marriage
If you’ve reached the empty nest years with your marriage intact, congratulations: you’re a minority, even in the church.
While one big challenge may lie in rediscovering who you are as a married couple, the marriage-strength gains are incalculable!
No doubt, entering the mission field at any stage in life will give you a reliance upon the Lord you may not find elsewhere. Being an empty-nester on the mission field carries the added benefit of drawing a couple together within that reliance on Christ.
The closeness and the companionship of navigating the unknown in a new culture surrounded by a new language will without a doubt stress a relationship, yet it will strengthen a marriage immensely.
4. It’s Fun!
Experiencing new places, meeting new and different people, and seeing things others will never see is a blast!
Imagine daring one another to be the first to try some unique new food or taking in a vista from an ancient viewpoint. Envision an engaging conversation with someone who has never met anyone from your home country.
Honouring God with the experience, wisdom, and time that He has given you is rewarding, and the rewards are transferable to eternity. Being an empty-nester on the mission field is fun!
Are you considering a redeployment to missions? Has the Lord placed any people group, place, or cause on your heart?
Would you like Him to?
There are many different paths you could take to investigate the Lord’s calling as empty-nesters. Here are a few:
· Be involved in local causes. This allows you immediate access to what God is doing right where you are.
· Serve with the missions team at your church. This exposes you to missionaries that your church supports, the places they live, and the people they serve.
· Engage missions in short-term projects, allowing God to expand your knowledge and experience in what He is doing in different places.
· Connect with one of our team members. GEM has been serving the people and nations of Europe for more than 70 years. If the Lord is calling you, there’s a place for you to serve.
About the author:
Gene is a missionary with Greater Europe Mission. Gene and his wife Inga joined GEM in 2007 and they have served in Eastern Europe, from the U.K., and in Northern Sweden. Gene and Inga now serve with GEM from North America and you can learn more or connect with them here.