I’m often asked how I’ve been able to contribute consistently over the years as a “One Dollar Apologist” (a term I coined to describe our calling as Christian Case Makers), while simultaneously involved as church leader and Cold Case Detective. I’m definitely a “Type A” over-achiever (I’ve been struggling to find balance my entire life) but much of my game plan at this point in life was formed many years ago when a man named Bob Buford came to the church I was attending and talked about his book, Half Time: Moving from Success to Significance. Buford planted an idea I’ve been watering over the past 17 years: God can use the second half of my life in an even greater way than He’s used the first, if I am willing to position myself accordingly. Buford’s talk encouraged me to see this side of 50 as the best time to impact the Kingdom, and I’ve taken that encouragement seriously ever since. I’ve repeatedly asked myself, “How can I position myself financially, educationally, experientially and influentially to have the most Kingdom impact possible once I’m done with my career as a homicide detective? What can I do now to make my opportunities in the second half of life even greater?” My goal has been to prepare myself for a season of Christian Case Making in the second half of my life, built on everything I’ve learned and achieved in the first half of my life. If you’re interested in Christian apologetics (Christian Case Making) and are still a bit younger than I am, my experience may be helpful to you. Here’s how I approached this season of ministry:
You’ll be most effective as a Christian Case Maker when you are financially disconnected from your passion as an apologist. When you’re able to make decisions independent of financial considerations, you’ll have the most freedom and flexibility as Case Maker. Live modestly, save your money, and plan for your second half. Be in a position to offer you services as a labor of love, without financial need, then use what you do earn to reinvest in your ministry. These “second half” years are about building the Kingdom, not your income.
It’s impossible to pour from an empty bucket, so start looking for ways to supplement your knowledge in preparation for a season of teaching. Become a lifelong learner. When I first enrolled in seminary and projected how long it would take to finish, I remember thinking I might not live long enough to see the end. Hear me on this: ten years are going to go by whether you get that education or not, so you might as well get the education. Look for creative opportunities to learn and start as early as possible. Think about your end goals before selecting a program, and get going.
It’s easy to think of our college or seminary experiences as the only preparation we’ll need to be good “One Dollar Apologists”, but most of what I’ve been able to teach in this second half of life, I learned from my career in the first half. Don’t underestimate your life and employment experiences. In fact, start looking now for opportunities to learn something you can teach later. I made career choices at the police department (denying promotional prospects) to put myself in the best place to learn something I could later teach. I also made choices allowing me the kind of schedule necessary to serve in churches throughout my career. Look around; make career and recreational decisions with the “second half” in mind.
It’s difficult to teach without students, speak without listeners, or write without readers. If you want to have an effective second half, you’re going to need to understand the role of leadership and the necessity of influence. While still employed full time, I started a website (PleaseConvinceMe.com) and did what I could to establish a platform (by the way, the one book I recommend more than any other to budding “One Dollar Apologists” is Michael Hyatt’s, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World). Start thinking now about how you will serve and impact the Kingdom later. By the time I was ready to leave my “day job” at the department, I had a book published and my schedule was jammed with opportunities. Build your foundation now by establishing a presence online and feeding it daily.
I am proud to be a “One Dollar Apologist”, because I truly believe all of us are called to be Christian Case Makers. Most of us, when we think of retirement, see it as an opportunity to finally do what we want without the restrictions of our employment obligations. I saw it the same way. In this second half of life, I’m trying to use what I’ve learned so far to contribute in some small way to the Church I love. This isn’t work, it’s passionate play. If you’re already in the second half, I challenge you to get up and make a difference. If you’re still in the first half, I challenge to get ready for an even better second half.
J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, Christian Case Maker, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity, Cold-Case Christianity for Kids, God’s Crime Scene, God’s Crime Scene for Kids, and Forensic Faith.