From Half-Time to Life-Time


Bob Buford’s impactful book, Halftime, written in 1994, challenges the following generations, including myself, to move from success to significance. In the book, he identifies what he calls Life I and Life II. According to the Halftime Institute, Life I is the period of time that lasts into your late 40’s up to age 50 while the remaining balance of life is Life II. Life I is what occurs before halftime and Life II is what occurs after….presumably until death.

Halftime then is that period of “in between”; that tactical pause between Life I and Life II when  most people are unprepared and are searching for meaning in mid-life. I found this idea challenging and it prompted my own search for deeper meaning both in purpose and in relationships. For me, this introspection took place in my 40’s. For some it could come earlier while for others much later.

During the past two decades since 1994, we have experienced those early years of that Life II. Now it is time to consider and perhaps evolve or expand Buford’s thinking a bit more. Because of longevity, living well into our late 80’s or 90’s, our life can be understood more fully as Life I, Life II and Life III which the world calls retirement. It is the time when it is important to rediscover and refine the significance of what we thought about during our younger, Life II years in light of the new reality of a much longer life.

Building relationships with God is our call.

When viewed from a Christian perspective we can continue to expand the ideas and feelings rising out the halftime discussion about vision, purpose, and meaning to include our role as Kingdom Builders. Kingdom building, expanding the world’s relationship with God, is the purpose for which we were created along with the ongoing call to follow Jesus; not simply for a time or a season but for a lifetime. The current expectation of how long we will live is into our late 80’s and perhaps stretching all the way to 100!

Themes of life are consistent, the look and feel changes.

When we include that lifetime aspect and acknowledge that there are at least three stages during retirement, or the Fourth Quarter, the overarching theme of life does not change. The important themes of life remain the same but how they look, act and feel are quite different. That halftime reflection point that occurs around age 49 is then re-introduced and often re-experienced in our 60’s or even later as we look to our retirement. We know this time is culturally referred to as retirement, the 4th Quarter, Life III, 3rd Calling, or simply being “Faithful for a Lifetime”.

All decades of life are significant.

It is interesting to note that the significant time frame lasting between ages 50 and 70 is the same amount of time as that between the ages of 10 and 30 or between 30 and 50. The realities of life during each of these time frames look different, feel different and are different. It is then reasonable to presume that the twenty years between 60 and 80 or even 80 to 100 can be just as different and just as  significant as those prior two decades.

Life III; a lifetime of purpose.

Loyd Reeb, spokesman for the Halftime Institute, says in his Ted Talk about Halftime, “The most productive years in your life may surprise you!” And he was referring to those years after halftime! I’d like to suggest that the Faithful for a Lifetime years can and should be as, or even more productive, than the years immediately post halftime. The Life-Time years typically begin in their mid to late 60’s. As a matter of fact, I’d like to suggest that for many it is time to expand our thinking from Half-Time to Life-Time and to extend them to now include Life III.

Many of the life issues raised in “halftime thinking” and subsequent discussions are simply not addressed by most Christians for a number of reasons. One is that they do not have the financial flexibility or ability to consider much more in their late 40’s or early 50’s then “what’s next?” Some are so caught up in life that their head stays down and elbows keep flying while others simply never thought about the issues of change and personal significance during those early post halftime years.

Our life journey includes our spiritual journey.

Grappling with these issues of meaning, purpose and relevance is also directly related to where we are in our spiritual journey and our relationship with Jesus. While issues of meaning and purpose often cause serious introspection it is also the longing of the Christians’ heart to both be more and do more to build the Kingdom. Both the “why” and the “what” of life are important to living a life of meaning and fulfilling our specific purpose of building the Kingdom.

When explaining “halftime”, they talk about this tactical pause in life’s journey as an unsettling feeling or simply asking the introspective question, “Is this all there is?” But as Christians we know that there really is more. Our lives will explode with purpose when we acknowledge and accept God’s call to personal relationship with him. This is the foundation needed for building the Kingdom.

Whenever we come to realize that reflecting him means that we are both called and able to impact others for the Kingdom we discover our universal call as Christians. And we discover that “serving and helping” others is the initial level of response to that call by God on our lives.

There is also a specific “call”.

The next response to God’s call is the realization that he has something unique in mind for each of us. We can listen and hear his “specific call” on our lives. This is the process for connecting with to that call: 1. He whispers it in your ear. 2. He uniquely prepares you for your role. And 3. He strengthens you for it. Hearing, doing and following through with the action plan associated with the call is the way we demonstrate that we have heard the call and are committed to  him. Not surprisingly this results in a deep level of personal satisfaction.

There is much more to be said about moving from Halftime to Lifetime and this introduction  begins to lay out the essence of what it means to be Faithful for a Lifetime. In both the Halftime pause and Lifetime pause there is an embrace of the need for significance. This feeling of significance is accompanied by finding the content and context that fills the “heart sized hole in your soul” with both meaning and purpose.

Begin to reflect on what Faithful for a Lifetime might mean for you.

Stay tuned as we journey with Trusted Advice along The Way.


Buford, Bob. Halftime. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1994 by The Leadership Network, Inc.

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