The Well-Played (Senior) Life
Despite my forthcoming addition to the Medicare ranks in 2016, I don’t want to spend my golden years as a grumpy old man. I’ve seen it happen to friends and others—advancing age stirs a litany of complaints about: the younger generation, one’s aches and pains, or the gripe, “In my day (blah, blah, blah)…”
A couple months ago, on the verge of leaving for college, the 18-year-old son of a friend accidentally hit another vehicle. The mishap shook him up (mentally, not physically.)
But when he went to check on the other driver, the elderly woman started blasting him, asking if he wasn’t paying any attention or was on his cell phone “like people your age.”
Good grief. No wonder older folks get a bad reputation.
A Positive Outlook
I have experienced a turnaround in my work and spiritual life that has left me more enthusiastic than ever, at a time when many friends are retiring. So, I am determined to maintain an optimistic outlook. No rocking chair plans in my future, nor grumbling along the way.
I also want to step into the next two decades with a positive attitude and a cheerful demeanor. That is probably one reason I connect so strongly with The Well-Played Life, a book by Leonard Sweet that released earlier this year.
I had previously read several articles about the prolific author, who has written such bestsellers as Jesus Manifesto and The Gospel According to Starbucks. However, it wasn’t until I saw an interview earlier this year about his latest book that I felt inspired to actually read one of them.
Several chapters into it, I recommended that our men’s group review it when we completed another book study. Then I put my copy on the shelf, knowing I would return to it when we launched our discussion.
Striking a Chord
We are now five chapters into The Well-Played Life and it has also struck a chord with the men in our group, most who fall in the middle-aged or senior category.
Put simply, its thesis is: How did we get the idea that serving God means working ourselves to the bone with frowns on our faces, all the while thinking that workaholism is a desirable trait?
As Sweet observes in the introduction, 500 years of the Protestant work ethic has not made us better disciples—only weary and cranky human beings struggling in vain to snag an unattainable, dangling carrot.
“When I hear people talk about, with an almost pharisaic pride, the merits of hard work and the desire to be better disciples by adhering to laws and labors rather than grace and quiet, it is like chewing on barbed wire,” Sweet writes.
Even if you don’t agree with him, gotta love that image.
I sometimes wonder if unhappy seniors—at least those who still attend church—realize that they represent Jesus to the world. Those who go around looking like they have been baptized in pickle juice need to lighten up.
We serve a God who is not surprised by terrorist attacks, increasing unwed pregnancy rates, increasing violence, or any of the other social chaos and calamity in the world.
If we believe He has everything under control, then we should relax and move forward with joy, determined to show the world God is a God of love, laughter and a good time.