最後四分之一場的策略

By Jim Langley

從事銷售人壽保險超過30年,我清楚地了解生命的不確定性。在那30年間,我發送了超過100張死亡理賠支票給受益人,而那些客戶中有許多都是在他們還中壯年時期就過世了。

因此,我問許多人這個問題,希望能激發一些思考與討論:「你是否認為自己正處於生命的最後四分之一場?」有趣的是,即使我問的人已過了中壯年,通常他們仍堅決地回答:「不!」

然後我用一項運動來比喻生命的不確定。雖然我成長時最喜歡的比賽是棒球,我也很喜歡大學橄欖球賽,我觀察到最後四分之一場是比賽中最重要的部份。許多時候底子深的球隊在比賽的最後幾分鐘從可能從被擊敗轉變成勝利。他們可以重整旗鼓,反敗為勝,因為他們為逆境作準備,有良好的規劃,所以能夠激起內在的力量去達成最後的勝利。

這些觀察讓我設計出在今日職場中我所謂「最後四分之一場策略」的討論,幫助別人更了解在許多方面生命就像雲霧那麼短暫,而上帝要我們活出我們的日子--不論我們是多年輕或多老--當時間日漸流逝,祂要我們在生命的比賽場中帶來改變。

許多人只喜歡坐在場邊觀賞眼前的比賽。就像有些人讀這篇「週一嗎哪」時,可能認為這對別人是不錯的意見;但這其實是對我們每一個人的警告!上帝在我們的生命中興起各種情況,我們必需了解,祂是要我主動地參與祂特別為我設計的生命比賽,而不是當個逃避的旁觀者。現實中我們參加的許多比賽只是娛樂,但我們如何面對生活,以及如何充分掌握被分配到的時間,對我們的人生有著極大且永恆的重要性。

使徒保羅可能不知道橄欖球,但他非常了解最後四分之一場的隱喻。聖經中常常談到這一點,保羅祂寫道:「那美好的仗我已經打過了,當跑的路我已經跑盡了,所信的道我已經守住了」(提摩太後書4章7節)。保羅也明白時間流逝的迅速,若我們沒有好好把握,機會很容易就失去。他提醒我們「要愛惜光陰,因為現今的世代邪惡」(以弗所書5章16節)。

「最後四分之一場策略」的有效秘訣是,清楚了解我們生命裏的優先順序。對許多人而言,人際關係是在順序清單的最前面,而在種種關係中,最重要的是我與天父的關係,因此我的所做所為都必須以討祂的喜悅為前提。我們沒有一人能保證明天還活著。此刻我們可能正處於生命中的「最後四分之一場」。所以應該如使徒保羅所說「要愛惜光陰」,因為日子過得太快了。

© 2015版權所有。Jim Langley自1983起就是紐約人壽的特約保險員。1987年開始參加美國加州聖塔芭芭拉市CBMC,是一位非常活躍的會員。

省思/討論題目
若有人問你:「你是否正處於生命的最後四分之一場?」你會如何回應?進入生命的最後四分之一場是否讓你覺得恐怖?為什麼? 你認為每個人,不論年齡大小或在生命中的哪個階段,都應該規劃生命的「最後四分之一場策略」嗎?為什麼? 考慮到目前的生命--你認為自己需要作什麼改變,才能確保擁有一個成功的、有生產力的「最後四分之一場策略」? 你覺得「愛惜光陰」是什麼意思?你認為飛逝的時間是我們的敵人或是盟友?註:若你有聖經且想要讀更多有關此主題的經文,請參考以下經節:詩篇90篇01節;路加福音14章28-29節;哥林多前書9章24-27節;雅各書4章13-17節

IMPORTANCE OF A FOURTH-QUARTER STRATEGY
By Jim Langley

In selling life insurance for more than 30 years, I have gained a clear realization about the uncertainties of life. During those three decades, I have delivered more than 100 death claim checks to beneficiaries, and many of those claims were generated by the deaths of clients whom I had considered to be still in the prime of their lives.

As a result, I have asked a number of people this question, hoping to provoke some thinking and discussion: "Do you believe you are in your fourth quarter of life?" Interestingly, even those I ask that are what I would consider beyond their prime years often respond with a definite, resounding, "No!"

Then I follow up that question with my thoughts on life”s uncertainty, using a sports analogy. Although my favorite game while growing up was baseball, I have always enjoyed college football and often observed the fourth quarter is by far the most important part of the game. The teams with the most depth many times come back from possible defeat and salvage victory in the final minutes of the game. They are able to rally to win because they have prepared for adversity, planned well, and were able to draw upon the inner strength needed for a triumphant finish.

These observations have prompted what I call "Fourth Quarter Strategies," discussions about today”s workplace designed to help others better understand that in many ways life is like a vapor, and God wants us to live out our days – no matter how young or old we are – as though time were running out and He is depending on us to get on the field to truly make a difference.

Many people seem content to simply sit along the sidelines and watch the game being played out before their eyes. Someone reading this “Monday Manna” might simply consider it nice sentiments meant for someone else, but this warning is intended for each of us! God engineers circumstances in all our lives and we need to realize He wants us actively involved in the game of life He has presented to us, not to be bystanders. Many of the games we engage in merely entertain, but what we do with our lives and how we use the time we are allotted is of great, even eternal importance.

The Bible speaks of this often. The apostle Paul might not have known about football, but he had a firm grasp of the fourth-quarter metaphor. He wrote, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). Paul also understood how quickly time can pass, and opportunities can too easily be lost if we fail to take advantage of them. He challenged us to be “making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16).

One key to an effective fourth-quarter strategy is to have a clear understanding of our priorities for life. For many of us, relationships are at or near the top of the list. To me, the most important relationship is the one I have with my Heavenly Father, desiring to please Him in all I do and in all I am. Not one of us is guaranteed tomorrow. We might be in our personal “fourth quarter” of life at this moment. It makes sense therefore to do as the apostle Paul said, to “redeem the time,” because the days pass all too quickly.

© 2015, all rights reserved. Jim Langley has been an agent and chartered life underwriter (CLU) with New York Life since 1983 and an active member of CBMC of Santa Barbara, California, U.S.A. since 1987.

Reflection/Discussion Questions
If someone were to ask you, “Are you in the fourth quarter of life?” how would you respond? Does it seem morbid to even consider that you could be in the fourth quarter of your life? Why or why not? Do you think having a “fourth quarter strategy” for life makes sense for anyone, regardless of his or her age or stage of life? Why or why not? Considering your life at present, what changes – if any – do you think might be necessary to ensure an effective, productive fourth quarter strategy? What do you think it means to “redeem the time”? Do you regard the passage of time as an enemy or an ally? Explain your answer.NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Psalm 90:10; Luke 14:28-29; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; James 4:13-17

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