Lately, I’ve heard a number of people talking about their ‘prime’. As far as I can tell, someone’s prime is the place they reach where they are the best at any given thing. Some athletes reach their prime and then usually try to hang in and play any given sport for a number of years before retiring to something else. Some songwriters reach their prime and usually struggle to put out more hit songs until they realize that their best bet for a career is playing their old hits for casino crowds.
I’ve heard more people talking about their career prime’s lately – and in a ministry context. I don’t know how I feel about that. In one way, I think it’s true – God seems to use us more and more the longer we faithfully serve until our frail bodies can no longer take it and we have to slow down. That seems like a decent way to go for me. There’s one thing that I’ve started to question though – do we unintentionally treat people (in the church in particular, but also elsewhere) like they’re not truly useful until they’ve had enough experience to be in their prime? Consequently, do some of us suffer from not accomplishing as much as we could because we feel like the people around us don’t expect greatness until later in life?
I’m not assuming that we’ll all do great things at a young age, but I wonder how the church would look if we expected more of that. For instance, most churches treat young adults the same way which they treat youth – they’re a demographic that is part of the church, but they really need their own programming and don’t offer much to the body at large as far as leadership or ideas. There are plenty of valid reasons for having age specific programming, but I wonder what churches expect back from young adults. Could they expect more and then be surprised at how much some people suceed for God when expected to from their elders? I don’t think any of us can know when we really hit our prime – and more importantly, I think we should be looking to the expectations of God and not those around us.