Here’s what I’ve discovered about life stages. Every 20 years, we go through the “reimaging your life” process.
- Stage one is focused on establishing and building a career. This stage occurs right after college.
- Stage two pivots to meaning. This occurs in the late 30s to early 40s. Like stage one, it is marked by achievement and recognition.
- Stage three is focused on sharing wisdom with the market God provides. The third stage starts around age 60.
Exploring Stage Three
God is escorting me down a new path in life. I know he has been with me all my life. As I look back at each stage, I see the hand of God. I’m sure this is true with you, too. There were times, specifically twenty years of my life (18-38), when I wanted nothing to do with God. But looking back, it is clear God was always there with me.
I knew I was on a new path when my work became unfulfilling. The work I had been doing for the past 20 plus years provided for my family, provided future financial security, and helped leaders achieve their dream of starting and owning their own company. The work was meaningful and fulfilling. Then one day it wasn’t.
At age 40, I had set a goal. I wanted to help 20 entrepreneurs start 20 new companies over the next 20 years. I thought to myself, “Now wouldn’t that make for a fulfilling life and second half professional career?” And that is what I did. Some of those companies succeeded. Some are still in business. Some of them failed. But each of the entrepreneurs who started these companies chased their dream. And that is what counts. The dream doesn’t always have the ending we would like, but chasing it is all about living a life of no regrets. This included my dream.
But now I’ve lived that dream.
So I find myself searching for the new dream. In fact, I need a new dream. I want to be on purpose. I want to make a difference. I want to be relevant. I want to influence. I want to be fulfilled. I want to be doing what God planned for me to do long before He launched me into this world. I may be confused, but God is not confused. He knows. I just need to ask Him. But I also need to be ready to receive His answer.
That’s why he put Bruce Wilkinson in my life.
I wrote about how I happened upon Bruce Wilkinson. It was December 2018. We met at some friends’ 50th anniversary party. I didn’t know he would be there. I wasn’t looking for him. I was just attending a party. As I was looking over the hors d’oeuvres selection, I looked up and there he was. He had no idea who I was, but I recognized him.
I gave him a bit of background on how we were in each other’s universe in the past. Then I told him about my confusion.
He said, “You are right on time. God has you on a path to convergence.”
“What does that mean?” I asked.
He said, “This is not the time or place to discuss this. Send me an email, and we’ll set a time to meet when I come to Atlanta in February.”
It took me over a month to send that email. I wanted to know what he had to say. But then again, I really didn’t want to know what he had to say. I know Bruce well enough to know whatever he was going to share with me would be challenging. And the challenge would be a test of faith. Can you blame me for waiting?
The path of convergence
We met in late February. He asked me questions to make sure he understood where I was. It wasn’t long before he got to the root of my confusion. I told him, “I feel like I am 22 years old again. That’s when I graduated from college. My college career was over. I knew I had to find my first professional job and work for a living. I had to build some kind of career. I wanted to get married, have a family, buy a home. And I had no idea how any of it would happen.”
In short, I feel now like I felt then. The career I pursued over the last 20 years is over. The whole world is my oyster, and I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. Who I’m supposed to do it with. And how it will all work out. But I know in my heart, God has something big out there for me. He has something big out there for all of us at this stage of life. Look at the investment my creator made in me thus far.
Multiple graduate degrees
For the last five years, Kathy and I have traveled to Uganda to speak at the Youth Ablaze Conference on how to become a Kingdom Minded Entrepreneur. Kathy and I will be leaving for this conference at the end of August. There will be over 12,000 of the nation’s poor attending this year.
The first time I was to speak, Pastor Elijah Sebuchu introduced me by saying:
“Professor Charlie Paparelli was prepared by God all his life to be our speaker. Over his 60-plus years, he has multiple degrees from the University of Life. These degrees include employee, husband, father, grandfather, entrepreneur, investor, friend, family, church member, community leader, teacher, student, mentor, mentee, and many, many more. He is here to share with us what he learned so we might become Kingdom Minded Entrepreneurs and leaders of our African nations.”
I remember sitting there thinking, “Did God do all that in my life? I guess I do have something to share.” And with that thought in mind, I got up from my seat and walked to the podium for the very first time.
Bruce explains the path of convergence
He said, “Once you start down this path, it will take 18 to 36 months to complete. Not all people who start down this path will complete it and achieve convergence. Most will retreat because it is too difficult, too demanding, and too challenging to continue.”
This is why I didn’t want to send Bruce the email to set up the meeting. Yet, here I was. Here is what Bruce told me.
There are four steps to convergence:
Step 1: Looking backward – You enter this stage as a result of your career confusion. The work is not fulfilling anymore or is without the meaning it once provided. This stage is marked by regret, mourning, and depression.
Step 2: Looking inward – This stage is all about self-reflection. It is marked by God revealing your character to you. It is all about who you are and what needs to change for you to be prepared for where God is taking you. This stage is marked by a recognition of your lack of fulfillment from your work. Also, you become convicted that you are leading a life of “ought.” In other words, you clearly see you are simply doing the things you ought to do. You lack the passion you once had while doing them.
Step 3: Looking upward – This stage is where you begin to truly commune with God. It is the surrender stage. You’ve given up fighting with yourself and God and the people around you who are giving you advice. You are now looking only to God for direction. This stage is marked by your core motives being revealed to you. The “why” of your life becomes clear.
Step 4: Looking forward – This stage reveals God’s purpose for your life. It is marked by confidence through a never before experienced faith. The questioning is gone. The confusion is gone. In fact, you disappear, and God becomes the center of your life. At the completion of this step, there is only God and none of you.
So this is the path to convergence.
I am walking the path with God. I am making my way past step one. I am entering step two. I am in the midst of the mourning and depression, which comes from the loss of fulfillment from the work I’ve done for the last 20 years. I am proceeding, not knowing where God is taking me.
Now God is revealing my character. He is showing me who I am and where the rough edges exist.
I’ll get into what I am experiencing in future articles. But know this. This process is taking time, which means I’ll only write when there is something for me to share. Then I have to work up the courage to share it. This is not easy for me to write about. It is hard.
But I will be writing more about the path I am following as I enter this third stage.