I recently talked with Gary Fenton, pastor of Dawson Memorial Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. He has observed, as he says, "effective pastors bumping against age 50 and even some in smiling distance of 60. There is still fire in their bones. They are not just surviving; they're thriving." He visited with several and discovered nine common traits:
- They believe in the church. Most fire-in-the-bones pastors have experienced a conversion; they genuinely believe the local church is the body of Christ. They really believe the church is their ministry—not just the place their ministry happens.
- They'd rather be respected than liked. They are not mean-spirited. But their need to be liked is less than their desire to be respected.
- They see humor in things. It is not that these leaders tell jokes; they see humor in what they do and in their ministry settings.
- Their focus is local. Successful mid-lifers are often isolated from others in their denomination; they often take more interest in the work God has given them in their locale.