Reflections on Turning 55

candles55.

A speed limit. Five years past half a century. LV. Double nickels.

And today, my age. I finally qualify for the 10% senior discount at Jiffy Lube.

I remember when 55 seemed really old. Right now it feels like the prime of life.  What does a 55 year old worship leader think about? Here’s a sample…

1. The years I have left for fruitful ministry are dwindling.
Used to be I never thought much about death. Now I think about it at least weekly. Life is short, and it keeps getting shorter. I estimate I have between 10-20 more years of fruitful ministry, Lord willing. Then again, I may not live to see 2011. A lot to accomplish before I’m done, though. Songs to write, messages to preach, albums to produce. Maybe another book or two. And then I get to see the face of my Redeemer. So I keep running the race.

2. Now’s the time to influence the next generation.
These years aren’t about me (were they ever?). I want to spend more time helping younger musicians and leaders grow in their godliness, gifts, and influence. I’m hoping to offer an study/internship next fall for a few guys, and in the mean time trying to spend more regular time with twenty-something potential leaders. I don’t want to act like I have nothing to learn from the next generation, and I want to do everything I can to help them avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made. So I mentor.

3. Relationships and the local church matter.
It’s never just about “my ministry.” It’s always about what part of the body I am, how I fit in with the rest of the body, and how I do my part to make the body function well. That means I make sure I have close friends at every stage of life who I’m walking out life with, who will encourage, counsel, challenge, support, correct, and pray for me. So I sink my roots deep in the church.

4. God has often used books (or sentences in those books) to change my life.
I can trace much of my thinking about life and worship to individual sentences in books I’ve read over the years, starting of course, with Scripture. Other books have included Music Through the Eyes of Faith by Harold Best, Desiring God by John Piper, Engaging with God by David Peterson, and Valley of Vision. There are many more. If I get one perspective-altering thought from a book, that’s time well invested. So I read.

5. Music can become boring—Jesus can’t.
It’s not the latest songs, creative arrangements, or unique sounds that make corporate worship amazing and awe-inspiring. It’s a clear and compelling picture of Jesus Christ, the only Savior of the world. As long as I have that understanding, leading songs will never become routine or banal, and my worship of God will never be dependent on musical innovation. So I value truth over tunes.

6. Worship leaders can be cool. Biblical worship can’t be.
By nature, “cool” describes something that the world esteems as hip, desirable, elitist, and perhaps elusive. Biblical worship is very un-hip, hated by the world’s value system, and a gracious gift from God to those he has redeemed. It involves magnifying the glory of Christ and minimizing our own glory. It means acknowledging our sinfulness before a holy God, expressing gratefulness for the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ for our sins, and responding in humble obedience to his commands. All very uncool activities. So, no need to worry that I’m twice as old as a lot of the people I lead corporate worship with.

7. Experience, planning, and skill are no substitute for the Holy Spirit.
Experiences have taught me a lot over the years. Planning ahead is a way of serving the people I lead. Skill is a vital component to leading worship effectively. But ultimately, only God’s Spirit can give people a knowledge of his glory in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6). It doesn’t matter whether I’m leading 5 people or 5,000, my need for God’s empowering presence is the same. So I pray.

8. God isn’t seeking worship leaders; he’s seeking worshipers.
Since “worship leader” isn’t even a biblical term, I don’t want to find my identity in being one. I’m happy to use my musical gifts to draw people’s attention to the greatness of Christ, but there are plenty of other ways I can do that, too. Loving my wife, speaking kindly, being generous, sharing the gospel, caring for the poor, to name a few. In At the end of it all, the only ones worshiping God are bondservants (Rev. 22:3). So I seek to serve for the glory of God.

9. God only has redeemed sinners to work with.
None of the hype is to be believed. Everyone sins. There are no perfect leaders. No one, except Jesus, is worthy of emulation in every way. That includes me. When I was younger I thought I was a lot more godly than I think I am now. Maybe I’ve been backsliding all these years. Or maybe I just have a more realistic view of myself. And in spite of it all, God has mercifully given his Son to pay for all my sins, and graciously brought fruit through my life for his glory. Amazing grace.

Looking forward to whatever the Lord has in store for me in my remaining years, and want to say with Paul:

It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death (Phil. 1:20).

Whatever your age, I pray that’s your desire too.

(And if you’re interested, here’s the post I wrote when I turned 52.)

29 Responses to Reflections on Turning 55

  1. Jeremy Poehls January 7, 2010 at 2:39 AM #

    Happy Birthday, Bob.

    For the sake of the body of Christ, I pray that God keeps you here to continue to encourage and educate the church. Your humility and grace helps to unite the body not only denominationally but generationally. Keep up the good work and enjoy your day. You’ve been a great blessing to me and my team here in AZ.

  2. Luan Els January 7, 2010 at 6:18 AM #

    Hello Bob,

    Happy Birthday really trust that God will bless you this year with more revelation and insight and bless you in every area of your life spiritually, physically, financially and emtionally.

    Thank you for the blog, as young guy of 22 I have learned a lot from your posts.

    Have a good day with your family and friends.

  3. Luan Els January 7, 2010 at 6:40 AM #

    Hello Bob

    Happy birthday trust you have wonderful day

    blessings

    Luan

  4. JackW January 7, 2010 at 7:39 AM #

    Happy Birthday Bob! Being your elder by two years I hear you! Number six was especially meaningful to me as I have been wondering how long people will put up with an old dude on a guitar. That’s a pretty good answer.

    “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

  5. Arlene January 7, 2010 at 8:32 AM #

    I hope you’ll still be posting when I’m the who one who reaches 55 (though that’s gonna be a really looong time :D)

    Though the world exalts youthfulness (where everyone wants to be young and is afraid to grow old), the Scripture holds the elders in high esteem. (Job 12:12; 32:7 among other verses).

    You are a wonderful blessing and an evidence of God’s grace!

    Happy birthday!

  6. Aaron January 7, 2010 at 8:34 AM #

    Happy Birthday, Bob!

    You are a great encouragement, and a vital resource to me @ our church plant!!! I thank God for His wonderful work through you, to equip and bless His Bride.

    A fellow vessel for His praise,
    Aaron

  7. west January 7, 2010 at 9:17 AM #

    My word dude, I thought you were waaay older! Ha-ha! :-) Happy birthday, Bob. And thank you for all that you do. You are a gift to us.

  8. Zach Sprowls January 7, 2010 at 9:27 AM #

    Happy Birthday!

    Thanks for your words. A great exhortation to me as one of the next generation who seeks to serve God as a worship leader too. You’re a great example.

  9. David Bailey January 7, 2010 at 12:04 PM #

    Bob, Happy Birthday!

    Really great reflections. Thanks for cultivating a life of loving Jesus and people. You’ve been a blessing to me and many others.

  10. Holly January 7, 2010 at 12:47 PM #

    Happy Birthday Bob!

    Thanks for giving us such a great present! Your insights are always a blessing to me.

  11. emily January 7, 2010 at 1:09 PM #

    Happy birthday Bob!
    You are a gift and an encouragement to me. Thanks for all you do to help me and my generation in worshiping our great God together!

    Emily

  12. TroyP January 7, 2010 at 2:26 PM #

    Bob,

    What? You’re going to stop, just ’cause you get to be 75? Show a little endurance, will ya?!

    Hey, you’re doing great, and you’ll keep doing great until the day you die. There are many forms of leading worship.

    Happy Birthday

  13. Matt Blick January 7, 2010 at 5:47 PM #

    “A lot to accomplish before I’m done, though. Songs to write, messages to preach, albums to produce. Maybe another book or two.”

    – especially write songs (please)

    Happy Birthday

  14. bondChristian January 7, 2010 at 7:17 PM #

    As one of those young kids you mentioned, I’m very grateful for you sharing this. It’s an excellent reminder of what’s important in worship but also in life in general. Thank you, and happy birthday.

    -Marshall Jones Jr.

  15. Trillia January 7, 2010 at 9:02 PM #

    Happy Birthday Bob! You are a blessing to many. You will surely leave a wonderful legacy- one day!

  16. Eric Rivier January 7, 2010 at 10:49 PM #

    Bob, great to hear this words from you!… it looks like birthday gift was given to us jejeje…

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAN!!
    (I don’t know if you caught my kind of yelled and excited congrats)

    May God keep you full of joy and as energetic as I think you are.

    Eric Rivier

  17. Anthony Pozo January 8, 2010 at 10:44 AM #

    Happy Birthday Bob!, may God give the desires of your heart, that goes according to His good will.

  18. Ramona Doyle January 8, 2010 at 10:45 AM #

    Hope your birthday was soaked with wonderful memories of the Lord’s faithfulness through the years! What meaningful reflections…not yet 55, but close, and not involved in worship ministry, but may the Lord grant exceptional grace and humility for all of us – no matter our age, stage, and ministry – to live this way.

  19. Jam Moore January 8, 2010 at 11:09 AM #

    Happy B-day!!!!

    I can’t tell you how much your blog has helped me worship God. I thank God for you and for what your doing. I’m only fifteen but I believe your helping me see some things that are beyond my years. Thanks again.

  20. Joseph Yu January 8, 2010 at 12:05 PM #

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY MR. KAUFLIN!!!!
    Thank you for being such a role model of Christ to all who love to worship God. 55 years, WOW! Now that is Amazing. May God continue to bless you and continue to train worshippers for the future.

  21. Linda Owen January 9, 2010 at 12:52 PM #

    Happy Birthday! Thank you for your honesty in this post and through all your songs of worship! The Lord, and the rest of us, are grateful recipients!

    When my husband, John, and I turned 55 last year, awoke with the anxious thought that, according to Ps. 90, we may only have 15 more years together! But then the Lord pointed out (as did you), that all we really have is Today! So with that, I endeavour to be more grateful for my loved ones, and more committed to serving and worshipping the Lord each and every day He gives.

    Thank you! Blessings for today and all the days ahead!
    Linda

  22. Kevin DeYoung January 10, 2010 at 9:43 PM #

    Moving, wise, Christ-centered. Thanks Bob. You are one of the good guys. May God be praised. And may he give you many more fruitful years.

  23. Craig Sterling January 14, 2010 at 9:34 AM #

    Bob,

    I hope you had a wonderful birthday with all those you love. Hopefully they love you enough to not fill your cake with 55 candles!

    I’m slightly concerned about your statement about possibly having 10-20 more years of “fruitful” ministry. Adding to Linda’s comment, TODAY is the day God has provided you for “fruitful” ministry – by God’s grace and for his glory alone. Our goal should be to be faithful to God’s call for today. We don’t know if we have a tomorrow.

    Ministry isn’t ours; it’s God’s. By His Grace, His ministry through you will be fruitful today, tomorrow, and long after you are called home. Your family and all those to whom you have shared the Gospel, given insights on worship, and taught to praise are evidence of fruitful ministry which will long endure.

    It is my hope, Bob, that you don’t have just 10-20 more years to minister. It is my hope that you “live long and prosper” and are “fruitful and faithful” to God in what ever ministry He calls you to and for which He fully provides. It is my hope, and I’m pretty confident in this, that your last breath will be in praise (aka fruitful ministry) to our glorious Creator.

    Grace & Peace (so much better than “live long & prosper”!),

    Craig

    • Bob Kauflin January 15, 2010 at 11:34 AM #

      Craig, thanks for the helpful comments. By “possibly” having 10-20 years of fruitful ministry, I’m acknowledging that this may be my last day. And if it is, I want to be fruitful for God’s glory today!

  24. Steve Hotra January 15, 2010 at 2:33 PM #

    Bob;
    Happy Birthday and thank you for this insight.
    Especially #6.
    At 53 years young I realize everyday is a gift from God.
    Steve

  25. Jeff Bourque January 25, 2010 at 4:15 PM #

    I really needed to hear some of these things today. Feeling a little dull in my leading, it was good to remember the meaning of being a worshiper instead of a worship leader with an uncool message and a need for the Spirit every day. Thank you for passing these great reminders along.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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