Steve Addison doesn’t seem like the kind of man who’d have to wonder if he’s made an impact. For more than 25 years, Addison has followed his calling to “spark church planting movements,” first as a church-planter himself in Melbourne, Australia, then as a trainer and author, and now as the leader of MOVE, a mission agency dedicated to “multiplying disciples and churches everywhere.” With decades of ministry experience under his belt, he’s got a resume that would make many church leaders green with envy.
Eight years ago, however, Addison felt the wheels coming off the wagon. He’d struggled with depression throughout his life and had learned to manage it well, but as he reached his fifties, he began to feel like he’d undershot the vision he’d once had for his life:
It really was the fruit of unfilled dreams. We can call it a “midlife crisis,” but that doesn’t make it any easier. . . . I had to go to my board, and I said, “Look, I’m just not functioning. I need some help, but I’m still in the game.” And they graciously said, “Steve, take the time you need.” It took six months.
A turning point for me was a few months into this. . . . I’m saying to [my psychiatrist, Rod Smith], “In terms of legacy and purpose, I feel like my life’s over.” Now, a thousand people who know me could’ve said to me, “That’s ridiculous,” but that wouldn’t have made any difference, because that was my reality. I’m looking for a bit of sympathy here. . . . I’m saying, “I’m not going to do anything silly, but my worst fear is I could live another 30 years and have no purpose, have no legacy. I don’t need success; I just need to achieve what God put on my heart and to see his will done personally in the ministry.”
Rod just looked at me and said, “Who guarantees you a legacy? Who guarantees you a purpose? Where did you get that from?” I’m the missionary, right? But he reaches into the drawer of his desk and pulls out a pocket New Testament and starts reading me verses about the love of God. He said, “This is all you got. This is all you can claim.”
And that was a turning point where I realized, “This is my Job experience. I don’t have answers.” Everyone would have said, “Steve, you will have a legacy.” It wouldn’t have mattered to me. I wouldn’t have heard it. But here I am confronted with feeling like my life will achieve no lasting purpose as far as I can understand, so what have I got left? I’ve got the love of God.
On this week’s episode of The Calling, join Addison as he chats with CT managing editor Richard Clark about being an introvert, why he likes Queen Elizabeth II, and why he no longer worries about leaving a legacy.