Part of what makes the church so glorious is the fact that, at her best, she brings people together. Rich and poor. Haves and have-nots. Men and women. Black and white. And, young and old. The church suffers when it is homogeneous. She flourishes when she is diverse.
Each of the generations needs the other generations. And each generation has a vital role to play. Today, we’ll talk about senior adults, men and women who are 65 and older.
I’m a senior adult. What’s my role?
In our culture, for a multitude of reasons, we don’t place a heavy emphasis on honoring the aged. Maybe we consider ourselves to be too busy doing things that are too important to allow us to slow down and hear older, wiser voices. The Bible never marginalizes the people that our culture tends to pass by. This is especially the case with senior adults. The Bible advises us to hear the wisdom of the aged, to learn from their experience, and to honor them in our attitudes and actions. If you’re a senior adult, you have blessings to share with the younger generations.
So, what type of role can you play in the church during this season of life? Here’s what I would say to a senior adult friend if she were to ask me this question.
Share your wisdom
Wisdom comes from the benefit of hindsight. As an elderly saint, you have more life behind you than younger generations of men and women. Lovingly, consistently, and gently share your wisdom. Tell stories. Talk about how and why you can relate to the situations your younger friends are experiencing. Be candid about what you did right as well as how you messed up without failing to demonstrate how God doesn’t waste any experience as he transforms hearts and minds. Sure, on occasion, people may be tempted to write off your words. But, as long as you’re sharing with the right spirit and intentions, you can trust God to tend to the seeds you’re planting.
You have learned too much to bottle it up. Share.
An elderly Christian woman owned our house before we bought it. And, according to our neighbors, in addition to regularly blessing them with homemade cinnamon rolls, she would sit in the living room and pray for all the kids (and their parents) as she watched them play in the cul de sac. When we moved into the house, although she had passed, we could sense her legacy in our house and in the lives of our new neighbors.
There is nothing more powerful you can do for the people in your life than to pray for them. And, your prayers—seasoned by the wisdom and faith accumulated from years of faithfulness—will be extremely powerful and effective at influencing their lives for Christ.
Encourage and bless liberally
Remember how stressful life was when you were cultivating your marriage, raising kids, and building a career? On a daily basis, you’re surrounded by people who are sprinting through life. They’re experiencing great victories and defeats regularly. And, since you’ve been there, you have the potential to be a huge blessing and encouragement to them.
Never underestimate the power of a encouraging greeting card, a plate of cookies, a hug, or a friendly comment. Watch people closely. And, when you see an opportunity to encourage or bless someone with a word or an act of kindness, be sure to follow through.
Avoid common pitfalls
Whatever you do, don’t allow yourself to fall into the trap of isolation, believing that you have nothing to offer or that your presence wouldn’t be welcomed. Carve out a community of peers with whom you can enjoy closeness and be sure to locate younger individuals to spend time with as well.
Sure, by the time you’re a senior adult, there will be a number of things that just didn’t work out the way you had planned. Granted, the world seems as if it’s more chaotic, violent, and ungodly than ever. But, refuse to let bitterness take root in your heart. Remain hopeful, trusting that God is still on his throne and that he is working all things out for the good of those who love him.
Finally, understand that the world is changing. And, because change is happening, young and godly men and women are doing the best they can to make necessary changes to help the church remain healthy, to continue growing, and to be full of love. Resist the urge to demonstrate inflexibility and rigidity. Rather, continue to provide your strength and wisdom while remaining open and affirming of change.
If you’ll focus, in your senior adult years, on lovingly sharing wisdom, praying continually, and blessing and encouraging liberally, you’ll find that God will continue to use you to make an impact upon the church, filling you with joy, hope, and peace in the process.