By Gary W. Dewhirst

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’” (Matthew 25:23)

Maybe it was a class I took in college. Maybe it was the wonderful example my own grandfather was to me. Somehow I fell into a longtime (35 years and counting) love affair working with, for and alongside our senior population.

I’ve seen all aspects. I’ve witnessed immeasurable joys, pains, laughter, tears, triumphs, and defeats. I can’t tell you there is a magic pill or a fountain of youth to keep the clock from ticking. I can tell you there is a “secret sauce” that when used, without exception, separates those who have “lived well” versus those who have just lived.

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“No matter who you are, what you have, or the state of your health, God has a purpose for you to live until the day He takes you home.”

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Missional Living

The secret is (drum roll, please) missional living and believing you have purpose. I am very fortunate to work for a faith-based community that truly exhibits this concept in all facets of life.

In the consumer-driven, fast-paced, secular world we live in, we are told that success is accumulation of wealth and toys, so you can then quit, golf, and travel. While those are certainly not bad things, is that what Christ has told us to do? Is that the reason He made us?

Through the years, I have known many who met the world’s criteria for having “made it,” but they have ended their days alone and miserable. Conversely, I have learned from those who have comparatively little but have been used to transform innumerable lives for His kingdom.

No matter who you are, what you have, or the state of your health, God has a purpose for you to live until the day He takes you home. A great number of the saints I get to work for lived their careers in missional service to others (retired pastors, missionaries, and Christian lay workers). Those who “live well” understand that their true worth is not tied to what they “did for a living” but what they can accomplish with their lives now.

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“What can you do that ‘no one thought you could do’ with the years you have left?”

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Living With Purpose

I have been amazed by a legally blind friend who spends her days making dresses for children. I have listened to the heaven-shaking prayers lifted up from those who can no longer walk. I’ve also jumped out of airplanes with 83-year-olds who wanted to prove that they “could do something that no one thought they could do.”

Who can you touch? Into whom can you pour your life to make a forever difference? What can you do that “no one thought you could do” with the years you have left? That’s missional living. That’s living with purpose. That’s why any of us are still here. Don’t miss it.

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Gary W. Dewhirst is the chief executive officer of Warm Beach Senior Community in Stanwood, Washington. He lives on the community campus with his wife, Erin, and their two English shepherds. They are proud of the family they have raised together (although long distance grandparenting is a bummer). When not engaged with his adopted resident family at Warm Beach, you can find him and his wife on a trail somewhere, or on the hunt of finding great live music to soak in.

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