APEX: a process for ending well
“In our 20s and 30s, we wrestle with call; in our 40s, it’s role; but from our 60s on, our questions surround contribution,” says Dave Jackson. “Baby boomers are retiring, and they have no clue what to do with themselves,” says the Canadian conference (CCMBC) church health specialist – but he’s got something to help.
Jackson worked with Terry Walling of Leader Breakthru on development of APEX: a tool to clarify contribution and affirm God’s call. APEX asks critical questions, providing a grid to assess and prioritize as the participant looks back over his or her story to identify top 6 or 7 turning points – events, circumstances, or encounters with people after which “things were different” – that end up shaping paradigms.
As maturing occurs, “you realize you can only go so far on guts and gusto,” says Jackson. “We start to run into circumstances we can no longer control” – loved ones die, children go wayward, careers derail – and a person must choose to “lean into the hurts and the pain and meet God there,” recognizing that ministry occurs “out of brokenness instead of only competence.”
Like ReFocusing, APEX is a discovery process, one “most effectively worked through with others,” says Jackson, who recommends it for middle-aged or older leaders who have done previous calling or role discernment. He facilitates two-and-a-half day retreats where 5–10 peers share their own stories and speak into each other’s.
“APEX is best suited to folks born in the 1940s and 50s; people who’ve lived long enough to have had spiritual victories and likely defeats, gained insight and wisdom, and who now want to devote the remainder of their lives to serving God’s kingdom purposes,” says Ron Toews, CCMBC director of leadership development.
Holistic legacy planning
Canadian conference stewardship representative David Leung, also trained to facilitate APEX, found the process personally affirming and professionally useful. At the front end of financial consultations, he doesn’t talk about money but asks purpose and legacy-driven questions from APEX and ReFocusing.
“Money is not main issue of retirement,” he says. “It’s emotional and spiritual health that makes a big difference in one’s golden years.”
Once the questions of legacy, contribution, life-calling have been sorted out, Leung says, “retirement planning becomes crystal clear.” He advocates a holistic approach: applying the life contribution insights of APEX to relationships and financial circumstances for a complete picture.
Leung, who took early retirement from his career as a chartered accountant before coming to CCMBC, says: “I minister with a lot of conviction and passion because God is using my ‘sweet spot’ to lead my remaining life.”
“It won’t help you fulfill your ambitions,” Jackson warns; “It’s not about what I want, or how I want to retire – it’s about getting honest with God about what he wants, and ‘Am I prepared to listen?’”
[Pearls of wisdom from the Faith & Life pamphlet series]
“God expects faithfulness from his children in all seasons of life…
“Whether done in a church setting or within the wider society, by our work we glorify God…. In it, we find fulfillment, learn obedience, and acquire eternal values…
“While the biblical mandate to rest involves taking a break from our labours, it does not imply that all work should cease whenever an adequate pension enables us to do so…. Indeed, Christians are repeatedly exhorted to keep on leading productive lives as members of the body of Christ.”
Written by Herbert J. Brandt and John H. Redekop, who both continue to contribute their gifts and experience to the work of the kingdom after they ended their formal careers in pastoral ministry and education.
Updated: BFL pamphlet information and link added May 23, 2013.