Thoughts on Age for Pastors and Everyone

The other day my wife and I watched a particularly enjoyable film called ‘Midnight in Paris’. One major theme was the ubiquitous desire to live in another era- in the movie in question it was some past golden era. Similarly most of us have at some time or another felt that desire in a different way. If its summer, we complain it’s too hot, if its winter, we whine that it’s too cold, yet all these times have been given to us for a reason. I am also sure that you can relate to the desire to be a different age than you are. If you are on the older side of the ‘line’ you envy those who are younger, and if on the younger side, you envy those who are ‘older’.

I don’t think pastors are immune to this either, those on the younger side of the ‘line’ see its weaknesses (hopefully) and long for that remedy that age brings. Perhaps those on the ‘older’ side look at the capacity of the ‘younger’ to engage tirelessly is such a variety of activities.

I came across this scripture that speaks, I believe, to this issue, “The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendour of the old.” (Proverbs 20:29). I see in this,God’s encouragement that different phases of life brings with it different strengths. As a man on the younger side of the ‘line’ (whatever that means) I have energy levels, a “longer candle” now than I will have in the future… this is strength to glory in, as opposed to moping about because of my lack of gray hair. In the same way, when I do hit that ‘older side’ then my experience, wisdom and insight which should make for far more effective ministry will not be something to bemoan. I should not have envy in my heart at a hyper-active doing-everything younger pastor, but rejoice that God’s army has a variety of strengths.

What I have found to be helpful in my ‘strength’ phase  (rather than despising my  youthful flowing brown hair), is to rejoice in my ability to do much, and surround myself with as many who appropriate the lack of hair/grey hair to help guide me. We younglings must learn from the mistake of Rehoboam in 1 Kings 12, who ignored the advice of the older men and suffered for it. I try to make it a practice to surround myself with those older than me in the ministry and seek their counsel as often as I can.

Likewise, when I am ‘older’ I pray that I would learn from Moses’ father-in-law in Exodus 13. Moses the wise-old-one knew that his glory was his grey hair and not his strength anymore, thus he took his father-in-law’s advice and appointed helpers. Instead of decrying my lack of strength, I pray that when I am old I would surround myself with many young, strong and active soldiers for the kingdom; just maybe my grey hair will guide their action to more efficiency and usefulness.

Believer! Fellow pastor! Whoever! Rejoice in the glory of the time God has brought you to. Use the strengths of those in other stages to most resourcefully build the Kingdom that God Himself is building.

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