I had a unique opportunity this week. I spent time with a group of senior adults chaperoning a field trip. Yes, chaperoning is the correct term to use here. This bunch is a bit wild and crazy . . . and I love it!
We carpooled for about two and half hours to the Creation Museum. I found myself in a vehicle with a young man (not a Senior adult) who is a brand new Christian and two octogenarian ladies who had not previously met each other. After the obligatory chit chat and a game of “who do you know that I know” these ladies settled into a conversation that blew me away. With a sharpness of wit that would be envied by any person, they emotionally wrapped themselves around my young friend. You see, his life is sort of a mess. He is scarred by a lot of heart ache, abuse, disappointment, and personal mistakes. I’m thrilled to say that the trajectory of his life is now headed in a more positive direction. Jesus will do that, you know! As these ladies learned about my young friend’s past and his newfound faith, they transformed themselves into the grandmothers my friend had never known. They offered words of encouragement, challenge, and love. Their challenges were firm, but their words were soft. They painted a picture of a life this young man could not even envision for himself. They talked with him about steps to that destination. They spoke of things like hard work, prayer, diligence, and faith. Like I said, I was blown away!
In the course of this conversation I said very little. I didn’t need to. They said everything I wanted to say to my friend, only they said it better than I ever could. After five hours of being in the car with these precious ladies, my buddy left on Cloud Nine. And I left with a lot of questions.
Why is our culture so enamored with youth? Why do we disregard the aged? If we don’t soak in the wisdom of experience from those that have traveled life’s road, what are we losing? What can we learn from precious saints who have served Jesus faithfully for decades and decades?
Job 12:12 tells us, “Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.” In Titus 2, Paul instructs the older women to teach the younger women in the church. It is obvious that Scripture admonishes us to respect the elderly and to learn from their godly experience. If we are going to accomplish that, we need to take a counter-cultural stance. Culture has taught the young to disregard the old and the old that they have no value. Both positions are lies. To the young, I set forth a challenge to foster an attitude of respect towards the elderly. But don’t stop at common courtesy. Invest in them. Learn from them. Ask them questions. Listen to them. Your life will be richer for it. To the senior adults, I challenge you to engage. You are not worthless in the church or society. Your time has not passed. When you share your life experience, it makes us richer. Invest in those that come behind you. Mold them into leaders. Steer them away from pitfalls. Encourage them to be diligent. Your church and your world will be better for it. If we don’t embrace the wisdom of the aged, we will undoubtedly duplicate their mistakes and probably invent a few of our own along the way. The generations need each other!
And if you ever get a chance to chaperone a bunch of eighty year olds, don’t pass it up. Trust me. It’ll be a hoot!