February 3, 2023 • Third Third Journal
In my leadership of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative, I’m always looking for excellent resources that speak to the issues and experiences of folks in the third third of life. (Of course, I am one of these, so I have my own ideas about this.) In the last four years, I’ve read dozens of books and hundreds of articles related to this topic and I keep on adding more books and articles each month.
Second Half of Life Study
I’d like to let you know about a rather new resource I discovered recently. It’s the Second Half of Life Study that was done through a partnership between AARP and National Geographic. It was published just a few months ago so it reflects recent research. AARP and National Geographic produced an extremely helpful Executive Summary that is available for free online. The summary itself is 56 pages long, so can get an idea of just how much information has been included.
If you are looking for a handy but trustworthy introduction to what’s going on with older adults in the U.S., this will serve you well. Some of the insights you’ll anticipate, like: “Optimists expect and want to live longer than pessimists.” Now that makes sense! Many others will surprise you, such as: “Fear of dying is low and drops as you age; feeling prepared grows as you age.” Really?!
As I have studied the summary, I’ve found it interesting to ask a couple of questions:
- Does what this study reports represent the third third people I know?
- Does this study represent what I think and feel? Where might I be different from my peers?
- What do the findings of this study suggest about my own flourishing?
- What do the findings of this study suggest about what the church might be doing to help folks in the thrid of life live fully and fruitfully?
Helpful Third Third Books
My Kindle has 77 books in the Third Third category of my Kindle library. I’ve read many of these carefully and scanned most of them. Plus, I own at least a dozen physical books about aging. I have many favorites among my third third books but will discipline myself to mention only four of them here. These are books I have found both fascinating and most helpful. They would certainly help you in your effort to flourish in the third third of life.
Aging Matters: Finding your calling for the rest of your life, by R. Paul Stevens. This is my favorite Christian book on aging. It’s full of wisdom, biblical truth, and compelling stories. It’s written for someone in the third third of life, but even young pastors could learn a lot from Aging Matters, both for their third third ministry and for their own lives. (Plus, the Kindle edition is only $1.99 right now. Such a deal!)
Aging Faithfully: The Holy Invitation of Growing Older, by Alice Fryling. This book focuses on how we can go deeper in our relationship with God as we grow older. Though relevant to everyone in the third third of life, this book speaks with particular relevance to those who are experiencing some of the losses that come with aging. You might also enjoy a webinar conversation I had with Alice about her book.
Brain Rules for Aging Well: 10 Principles for Staying Vital, Happy, and Sharp, by John Medina. This book, written by a brain scientist, is a popular and delightful presentation of ways that contemporary neuroscience helps us to be healthier and happier as we get older. There is so much to learn here! This is not a “Christian book” in the obvious sense, though the content is certainly compatible with Christian faith. John Medina in addition to being a leading scientist is also an articulate Christian.
EMERGING! Boomers Speak Out About Life in and Beyond the Pandemic by Richard and Leona Bergstrom. This book gives voice to the diverse experiences of people in the third third of life as they reflect on ways that COVID-19 affected their lives for bad, for good, and for much that’s a little of both.
Stay tuned . . .
Every now and then I’ll add another edition to the “Some Helpful Resources for Third Third Flourishing” collection.
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.