David A. English

I was in my early 40’s and something was happening to me emotionally. For twenty years I had been involved in Christian ministry and loved what I was doing. College students were a joy to me and I had worked with them in various positions of responsibility locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. I had a wonderful wife and four beautiful children. Outwardly everything seemed to be going great. But inwardly something was wrong. Something was missing. It was the same feeling that I had before I had become a Christian at age 19.

Emotionally life was not making sense and I felt that it should because, after all, I had committed my life to Christ and I was serving Him with all my heart.

There were two circumstances that I was faced with that added to my confusion. Campus Crusade was in the midst of an organizational change in which my present position would no longer exist. There were very good options available to me during this transition and I was in the midst of evaluating what my future role would be.

And during the last year and a half, Beth had mentioned to me on several occasions how much I was needed at home with our four young children during this formative time in their lives. My scope of ministry was a 12 state region and over the years I had been traveling a lot.  I came to the realization that she was right and I should no longer travel to the extent that I had.

I am a very intuitive person and sometimes it is difficult for me to articulate exactly how I feel. I began to process my emotions by simply writing down in my planner specific thoughts that would come to me:

  • I want to be a person of integrity.
  • I want my walk to match my talk.
  • I want to be a great husband and father.
  • I want Christ to have all of me.
  • I want to be available to do whatever God has for me.
  • I want Beth to fully experience the person and the destiny God has for her.

It was as if I wanted to start at ground zero in my life and allow God to lead and direct me in the desires of His heart.

Several months later I was visiting a church in Little Rock, AR that financially supported us in our ministry. Two of the pastors, Bill Parkinson and Robert Lewis, were good personal friends. When I met with Bill one afternoon I shared that I was faced with a future position change, increased need for greater time with my family, and I expressed some of the emotions that I was feeling. Bill shared a simple statement that grabbed me. He said, “David, three years ago I felt the same way that you feel today.” I asked him to describe what was going on inside of him three years earlier and I discovered that it was very similar to what I was presently feeling.

The next morning I had breakfast with Robert and shared about the discussion I had with Bill. He confirmed that there were emotional / developmental phases that men go through in life that are very predictable. They had studied this and to an extent had organized the small groups in their church around this concept.

I began to read and study about these phases and discovered that what I was emotional experiencing was not necessarily related to a position change or even our family dynamics. I was going through a very predictable
emotional / developmental phase of life that all men my age experience. And there were very significant spiritual implications.

Over the years I have written 8 age appropriate phases of life studies for men. These studies help men to navigate through life and to be able to finish strongly as a sage. The emotional isolation, independent spirit of self-determination, wounding, need for covenant relationships, and the prioritization of a relational value base that all men feel are themes that characterize our lives. These studies address those issues and many others.

As I have studied and written about theses phases it is the centrality of intimacy with God and the development of a covenant team of peers that has captured my person and destiny.

  • Who I am is more important than what I do!
  • Seeking God with all my person and trusting Him fully is His design for my life!
  • Life with God is all grace.
  • God’s value is my person and not what I do for Him.
  • Purpose in life has to transcend self.

As you study your phase of life my prayer is that you will process the emotional struggles that all men your age are experiencing, that you will choose to commit to your age appropriate defining decisions, that your need for the richness of intimacy with God will capture your person, and that God would give you men with whom you can process life personally and spiritually for a lifetime!