Jeffrey O. Brown, PhD, is the associate editor of Ministry and an associate ministerial secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States

Winter. The end of the year in the northern hemisphere of the world. Some call it the epilogue. There is even a term, the dead of winter. But winter is not the end. Solomon said,

“Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away,
for behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land”
(Song of Solomon 2:10–12, ESV).

No wonder the poet Shelley cried, “O, Wind, If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”1 Winter is the time for investing in the next generation. We can rightly call it a springboard.

Overview

Let us summarize our seasons. Spring ministry (approximate ages 20–35) is characterized by five words of Jesus: “Give ye them to eat” (Luke 9:13, KJV). Spring zeal is epitomized in the words of the prophet, “Here am I; send me” (Isa. 6:8, KJV).

Summer ministry (approximate ages 35–50) is characterized by five words of Jesus: “How many loaves have ye?” (Mark 6:38, KJV). Confronted by the insufficiency of our resources, we choose the One who said, “My grace is sufficient for you”
(2 Cor. 12:9, NKJV).

Autumn ministry (approximate ages 50–65) is characterized by five words of Jesus: “Bring them hither to me” (Matt. 14:18, KJV). Leaves are falling and hopes are fading. We are not where we want to be. Take your broken pieces to Jesus.

Winter ministry (approximate ages 65+) is characterized by five words of Jesus: “Gather up the leftover fragments” (John 6:12, ESV). Do not let this experience go to waste. Church administrator, do not cast aside retired pastors. They have proved their value. Treat them with the dignity and respect they deserve. Winter pastor, there are a great many spring pastors just waiting for you to bless them with what God has blessed you. This keeps your heart beating with excitement and anticipation. The joy of winter is the hope of spring.

Christian author Joyce Landorf states, “Of all the multitude of tragedies in growing old, the forfeiting of a dream, the losing of hope, and the failure to look forward to spring are the greatest.”2 Be a part of a child’s life. Mentor a young pastor. Pass on ministry and family life counsel to the next genera­tion. Winter, far from being irrevocably tied with death, must be irresistibly linked to life. The story of Abraham and Sarah demonstrates that you can “still bring forth fruit in old age” (Psalm 92:14, KJV).

Go around again

On her way to the hospital for the birth of their first son, a lady in Bermuda told her husband to circle the roundabout. She refused to have her baby until she had seen Johnny Barnes give his signature Christian wave of love that assured her that all would go well. Like many in Bermuda, she was enamored by the heartwarming love this retiree exuded from his post at the roundabout outside of Bermuda’s capital city, Hamilton. When Johnny did not notice them the first time, she told her husband, “Go around again!”3

Whatever you did or did not get right the first time around, winter allows you to go around again. Go out of your way. Help somebody. Surprise somebody. Bless somebody. Finish well. Author Miriam Wood said, “[I have an] overwhelming thankfulness for my life as the wife of a Seventh-day Adventist minister. I am firmly convinced that, for me, no other life could have been so meaningful, so rewarding, and so worthwhile. The doctrines of my church, the principles for which it stands, the hope that it holds for the future—all of these are more important to me each day I live. . . . I would like to go back to the beginning and live it all again.”4

Let us go back to the beginning.

“While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
Cold and heat,
Winter and summer,
And day and night
Shall not cease” (Gen. 8:22, NKJV).

In other words, go around again.

  1. Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Ode to the West Wind,” poets.org, https://poets.org/poem/ode-west-wind.
  2. Joyce Landorf, Changepoints: When We Need Him Most (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell,1981), 186.
  3. Jeffrey and Pattiejean Brown, The Love Seasons (Grantham, UK: Stanborough Press, 2014), 127–129.
  4. Miriam Wood, Two Hands—No Wings (Washington, DC: Review and Herald, 1968), 121.

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Jeffrey O. Brown, PhD, is the associate editor of Ministry and an associate ministerial secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States

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