Welcome to Episode 2 of the Passionate Purpose podcast where we interview people over 50 who are pursuing new direction for their lives. It’s an opportunity for people to tell their stories, their way in their own words.
Today’s episode features an interview with Jim Akers. He worked as a senior corporate executive for a major paper company in Washington State for 25 years where he oversaw 23 locations that employed 1,200 people.
After another outstanding year of growth and profitability, he was celebrating with his sales staff on Thursday afternoon, then called into the office and fired the following Monday. Without warning, the company was downsizing and changing strategies. Jim and all of the other group vice presidents were being eliminated.
He went from being on top of the world, to out of work – with one son still in law school and another in college.
The period that followed was one of intense personal reflection in which he sought advice from his closest friends who helped Jim realize that God had fired him from the job so he could pursue a different direction with his life. He also knew he had to get his spiritual grounding back.
Jim had published one book a few years before losing his job, which he later described as being very worldly based. After being fired, Jim invested more time in studying God’s word and meditating on its passages.
Soon, he felt called to write another book encouraging people to maximize their impact on others. Yet, God continued to sift and refine Jim. During his studies, he realized that of the 2,930 people mentioned by name in the Bible, there was enough data on 100 of them to know how they finished. A majority of them failed later in life.
That prompted Jim to write a third book titled “Godfidence: Reliable Confidence for Navigating an Unreliable World.” In the interview, he describes how the book project impacted his life and the lives of others who have read it.
Jim has a really compelling story with which a lot of people over the age of 50 can relate. They are chugging along almost on autopilot as they go from one event to the other. Then, something happens to derail their lives.
Perhaps it is a major illness, the death of a close friend or relative, or a job loss. Maybe everything they worked hard to achieve for so long suddenly disappeared through no fault of their own. They are forced into a transition they didn’t ask to make.
Like Jim noted, when that happens, we have a choice on how to respond. We can sulk, withdraw into our little comfort zones and blame God and everyone else for our predicament. Or we can pivot and realize that as long as we’re still breathing, there is a purpose for our lives.
Rather than looking within ourselves or to others for answers to our questions, we need to turn to our creator to discover the purpose he has for our lives going forward. There is a reason we have the skills, talent and abilities we do. There is a reason why we have had experiences that are unique to our lives – both good and bad. All of it makes us uniquely qualified to do something to make a difference in the world and the lives of others.
After turning 50, life is no longer a game to see what we can get for ourselves. Rather, life becomes a mission devoted to what we can give to others. It’s not complicated because it doesn’t really require a lot of effort to mentor someone else who is facing a similar struggle you did at some point in your life. For people struggling with a sense of purpose, the magic of mentoring can be an easy solution.
In the interview, Jim encouraged listeners to “Ask yourself if I took all my life experience, both good and bad, and poured that into one person, like a single mother or a young athlete, could it be a life-changing experience for both of us.”
We often think impact has to be grandiose, but God often wants us to impact just one life at a time. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself which people had the most positive impact on our own life. Chances are it was probably someone who just provided a little extra time and attention.
Today, Jim selects five people to provide one-on-one coaching services every year. He works with people to strengthen their businesses, but more importantly, to develop their faith.
For anyone wanting to find and pursue their God-given purpose, Jim offered some advice. “When you get up in the morning, simply ask God, ‘What’s my next best right step that would bring you glory today?’ Then get busy doing that,” Jim explained. “Also, look for ways to serve others without thinking about what you can get in return. Even if it’s the humblest of circumstances, figure out a place to serve.
“Finally, identify who you want to remember you and what you want to be remembered for,” Jim said. “People will remember us more for things we did near the end of our lives than they will for what we did when we were younger. Answer those questions, and your purpose will produce itself.”
To connect with Jim, visit www.jimdakers.com.
If you’d like help in identifying a purpose for your life or to get help planning your next steps, I’m offering a complimentary brainstorming session to members of the Forward From 50 Facebook community. For details, connect with me on Facebook or visit www.forwardfrom50.com.
That’s all for this week’s show. Next week, I’ll be talking to a woman who faced a serious medical challenge in her life that baffled doctors. It caused her to do some research on her own to find answers. Today, she helps others to live longer through a healthy diet and better lifestyle choices. I’ll have that interview on the next episode of the Passionate Purpose podcast. Thank you for listening!
After closing his business and enduring several painful years of uncertainty regarding what to do with his life, Greg founded Forward From 50 to help men and women over 50 to live more purposeful lives by pursuing things they are passionate about. A Wisconsin native, Greg currently lives in Arizona.