Leadership,  Living as a Leader,  Marriage and Family

A Needed Perspective Adjustment

079On New Year’s Eve I talk on the phone with a long time mentor and friend, Neil Atkinson. When I was in high school, Neil was my Young Life leader and was instrumental in my becoming a Christian. After college, Neil prepared Denise and I to become Young Life leaders. Later when Neil left Grand Rapids to become a regional director for Young Life in Kansas City, he and I continued to stay connected.

Throughout my life, in every context my relationship with Neil took, he’s always said something that I’ve needed to hear, often when it’s been unlooked-for, as it was on New Year’s Eve.

As we were sharing with each other how 2012 had gone, Neil mentioned that he turned 70 and I responded by telling him I turned 50. As we marveled at how old we’ve become I told Neil that turning 50 was harder than I expected because I felt that I had crossed the half-way point in my productive life.

That’s when he delivered one of his unexpected perspective adjustments that I needed.

Neil said

“Let me tell you something that’s absolutely true, the next 10 years of your life will be your very best. You see you’ve come to a place where you possess the highest combination of both energy and wisdom that you’ll ever have. The next 10 years will be your most productive yet.”

So, though it may be true that I’m over half-way through my life, I realized, to great joy, that I may not have yet reached the half-way point in my potential contribution to this world and to Christ’s Kingdom. So once again Neil, thank you.


  • Terie Vickery

    How cool you are still in touch with Neil, I too became a Christian, thanks in no small part to Neil and Marge!

  • P Weiman

    Mike thank you for your post. Neil is a special man; I owe him much from his passionate involvement in YL during my EKHS years. Rich and I were recently talking about Neil at our HS reunion, so I’m glad he forwarded me your post. I’ve signed on to your blog and look forward to more nuggets!

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