Newsletter #558 – Taking Stock–of This Year and the Future


Unlike most of my posts, thus one is more personal but hopefully relevant to all of us. As a college freshman sixty years ago I took my first course in psychology. Fifty years ago I got a PhD and started my teaching, speaking and writing career. Much later, in June 2002, I sent out the first of these newsletters and they have come out regularly ever since. Thanks to the grace of God my health is good. I still write, teach graduate students, and speak at conferences. I am grateful for a supportive, loving family and group of friends. So as long as I continue to interact with interesting people (including you who read these posts), think creatively, and keep learning about new publications and new trends there are no plans to stop any of this or to retire. Often there are valid reasons for slowing down, but it seems that too many people stop learning and growing, lose their relevance and fizzle out as they approach the end of life. This process can start at any age. Clearly I don’t want this to happen to me—or to you.

Taking Stock 4About this time every year I take stock of where I am and where God may be leading. This is of special importance now that I’m approaching 80 and am in the concluding, but potentially the most productive years of my life. Perhaps like you, at times I’ve sought to find my calling or niche. But I have discovered that more often than finding a niche, the niche finds us. And sometimes this changes as we grow older. Lord willing, I will continue to teach, write this newsletter and produce some new books. Even so, as I step back to look at where I am, it is becoming clear that my greater focus should be on investing in smaller numbers of emerging leaders. 

It seems that I work best with developing young professionals, with experienced counselors or ministry leaders, and with others who are taking stock of their lives and wanting to finish strong whatever their age now. I love speaking at conferences, teaching, and writing that could have a broad impact. But even more I want to increase my work with individuals and more focused groups. I’ll tell you more in the next newsletter.

In the meantime, during this special end-of-the-year season, please consider taking time to reflect on your life, your calling, your potential direction. Most of us will stay on the same course because it’s neither possible nor wise to make changes at this point. What about you? Please comment and tell us what you think of these ideas. What are you doing to take stock of your life as a New Year approaches?

I send my warmest best wishes to all of you for a fulfilling and Christ-honoring holiday season.

  1. Your newsletters have been and continue to be a great inspiration to me as I teach and write for and counsel family business teams. I am 65 and can’t believe my age nor can I even fathom ever retiring. I love my experience with families. I too believe I am just coming to the best years of my productive life …I knew little before, but now its starting to make sense. God Bless you and keep putting in reference to the Lord Jesus Christ all through your messages.

    • Thanks Jim. In my posts I try to reflect my beliefs and scriptural principles even when I do not make them as prominent as I might if all of the readers were believers.

  2. Thanks for the thoughts, so relevant at this time of year. You’ve challenged me to ensure I get a time of reflection — will do the first week of January. I’ve followed you for many years via books and articles, since I’m 70 now and appreciate your thoughts on retirement. Once I’m done writing on issues of “The Case for Missionary Care” on my blog,, I want to think about missionaries and retirement issues.
    Your thought here underscores the truth of the joke, “When one retires, they get re-tired — new tires — and keep on going. And when they are ‘over the hill’ they simply pick up speed.”
    My wife, Sheri, and I are still in full-time work leading a staff of 34 who are providing missionary and pastor care through hosted centers, we call, Oases. Glad, also, to have the ‘niche’ that found us in 2003. Merry Christmas and a very meaningful and successful New Year in 2014!

    • Keep moving forward David and Sheri. And don’t forget what all people at our age need to remember (in my opinion): we finish strong when we focus at least some of our attention on encouraging and engaging with next-generation, emerging leaders. I suspect you would agree that for people like us, our legacies are less in our books, articles, speaking or blog posts, but most in the people God has allowed us to impact.

    • Donna Davis
    • December 19th, 2013

    Gary, seems appropriate to say “thank you” for not ignoring God’s leading in your life. Many, including me, have been blessed, inspired and instructed through your work. Hope I will be as active and relevant as you are when I am almost 80!! A goal I will work toward–I know it doesn’t “just happen”. May you and your family experiece a Christ filled season.

    • Gary J. Oliver
    • December 19th, 2013

    Thanks for your open heart and your always good insight and the encouragement to reflect.
    You are such a gift to so many people around the world, such a good and godly man, a faithful servent . . . and I am blessed to call you friend . . . really . . . I’m so grateful for your continued impact on my life and on the lives and ministries of so many others. You have no idea . . .
    Know of my love and prayers that you and those you love enjoy an especially meaningful celeberation of our Lord’s birth.

    • Gary, my dear brother and friend. Unlike me, you are a phenomenal example of someone who has kept growing and moving forward despite incredible sorrows, difficulties, and health problems. And, as I have told you before, you are one of the handful of people who stood by me and encouraged me when I left AACC and, in so many ways, felt alone and directionless. God’s blessings on you and your family as you continue on during 2014.

  3. Dr. C … thank you for continuing to teach/train/mentor/coach so many of us who are glad to be connected by this learning community. Joyous Christmas to all (which I hope includes at least a brief time of stillness and prayerful reflection)

    • Rich Gathro
    • December 19th, 2013

    Dr. C. I agree with Phil. You are such an encouragement to me!

    • Carol McGowan – Sydney Australia
    • December 19th, 2013

    Gary my message is simple. Thank you for so eruditely stating how I feel. I took a significant career turn at 50 and now almost 10 years on cannot imagine not continuing with it for many years to come. I just celebrated 40 years in the workforce and have never felt so alive. Its examples like you that keep me inspired all the way over here in Australia. Thank you very much.

    • Carol, Thanks so much for your message from Australia (following messages from Pedro in Peru, Edmund in Singapore, and Sergio in Guatemala). What an honor it has been for me to visit each of your countries. I especially remember the vastness of Australia. Julie and I have visited every state except Tasmania. Some people have told us we haven’t missed much; some Tasmanian friends have said we missed the best part 🙂 As a coach I especially appreciate the research and coaching leadership that comes from University of Sydney. I love your city with its magnificent harbor.

    • Pedro
    • December 19th, 2013

    thanks Gary for your friendship and example! I am in a crossroads now, I would like to talk to you. Hope we can skype soon. God bless and Merry Christmas!

    • Edmund Chan
    • December 19th, 2013

    You’ve been a blessing to SO MANY, Gary…!!!

    • Thanks Edmund (and Ann too). Among other times, you were a special encouragement to me in our post AACC discussions.

  4. Thank you for your thoughts and your investment in the lives of so many people around the world. I am planning to continue serving in the same roles I have been playing in the last years. All these advances in the field of counseling for the Spanish speaking world are the result of your vision and investment in your students from many years ago. Merry Christmas and I am looking forward for what you will teach us through your Newsletter in 2014.

    • I am so proud of you for your significant work in Guatemala and throughout the Spanish speaking world of counseling. Now you need to teach your students how to coach.

    • Donald Lichi
    • December 20th, 2013

    Dear Gary
    80 years? Not possible. I thank you for your friendship. My cancer is in remission and have been able to resume a full counseling speaking writing and preaching ministry. You have been such a powerful role model. I used one of your books as a text this fall while teaching an intensive at the AOG seminary in Malawi Africa
    Best to you my friend and praying for you for many years of productive work for Christ
    Don Lichi

    • Don,
      What wonderful, wonderful news about your health and ability to move forward after that painful time when we all prayed, but wondered if you would be with us much longer. Thanks be to God! It is so refreshing to hear from you. You trigger great memories of my visit to Emerge.

  5. I am so inspired by your leadership – “About this time every year I take stock of where I am and where God may be leading. This is of special importance now that I’m approaching 80 and am in the concluding, but potentially the most productive years of my life.” What an encouragement you are Dr. Collins!

  6. I am in the same age bracket as you Dr. Collins. Some years ago I experienced one of the most discouraging happenings in my life (a divorce after 50 years and 3 weeks of marriage). This happened after I, upon my wife´s suggestion, finally became Roman Catholic. The longing to do so had been there for a long time, but as she strongly opposed it, I didn´t. Then returning home after becoming RC, she insisted on a divorce. The Lord didn´t leave me though and made it possible to be one of the oldest seminarians in history at age 74. Now I function as a deacon in the RC church in Austria, working in a team with 3 other priests. I marvel at God´s Grace, His abiding love and for the Blessings He still allows to flow as I serve Him as part of a team. This past weekend, just before Christmas, I preached 3 times… Thank you for your courage as you continue to serve the Lord, your postings especially in the last years, have been a such blessing to me.

    • Father Teo. What a sad but heartwarming story (at the same time), I was so encouraged as I read of how God has been leading in your life. This is not anywhere on the same level as completing a seminary program, but this month I completed all of the requirements for the Professional Certified Coach (PCC) credential with the International Coach Federation. I am not sure I really need it but it was a goal I wanted to accomplish so I could be a better and more-credentialed coach.
      Perhaps we will get to meet some day. I have a student who lives in Austria and he has promised to take me again for Viennese coffee in one of those wonderful coffee shops in Vienna. Maybe it will happen and you can join us.

  7. I WOULD LIKE TO RESPOND TO ALL OF YOU WHO LEFT POSTS, including those who sent private email messages. My open letter newsletter (#558) was to describe where I seem to be moving in my career and to stimulate others in their thinking. I was not at all expecting the many expressions of appreciation that the newsletter generated. “Thank you” is too weak of a response for your messages. I was especially glad to read about others who are about where I am in life and seem to be going strong, moving forward, and leading the way. In the new year, I look forward to sharing more of what I keep reading and learning. Then finding out what so many of you are doing. I think that the best stage in life is where each of us is right now.

  8. Greetings Gary from winter in Dubai (all 70F of cold, ha!) and many congratulations on being awarded the PCC credential! That’s not an easy or quick journey; I admire your grit and determination!

    I was rereading your blog #500 today – Five Hundred Newsletters and Still Going – as I attempted to pen my first newsletter and was looking for inspiration and help. I love message #500 and reading how impacting others and persevering is important to you regardless of whether people are reading and responding to your comments. Your focus on keeping up to date and growing hit home for me when I first read it October 2012 and continues to motivate me. Anyway after rereading #500 I decided to write a” thank you” and as I was about to do so I read peoples’ comments on your latest posting #558. I’m delighted you received wonderful affirmations of how God has and is using you so positively in the lives of many people across the globe! God has a way of using us in the best possible way usually when we don’t even know about it!

    Thank you for being a faithful servant and for sharing your observations in such an encouraging and winsome manner.

    Have a great and productive 2014!

    Thanks and blessings


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