69 and 70. That’s the ages of our current United States of America presidential candidates. That’s retirement territory. That’s well within the AARP range. I have to step back in a bit of amazement that one of these two older people will hold the highest office in the land with ALL of its responsibilities and expectations.
That brings me to an interesting set of comparisons between a man chosen for the presidency of America and a man chosen for the pastorate of a local church. It all begins with this thought—
- For a man to be president, he must have years of experience; but for a church seeking a new pastor, they usually want a man who is young, energetic, educated, and full of new ideas. By the time a pastor reaches his middle fifties, most churches seeking a pastor are not interested because he is too old, and the pastor is not interested because he is too tired.
- For a presidential candidate, he is not even thinking of retirement. He is, in his sixties and seventies, crisscrossing the United States with “guns blazing” ready to win the election. An older pastor is slowing down with an eye on retirement.
- For the presidential candidate, he has fresh ideas of how to “make America great again.” For the older pastor, he tends to just want to hold on to tradition, to what’s comfortable and just bide his time.
This also has application to the members of the local church. I have never understood the mentality of when you reach your 60’s and start attending the Senior Saints class that it is time to stop serving and “let the younger folks do it.” Oh, how wrong! Look at the following passage:
But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: 2 that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; 3 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— 4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed. 6 Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, 7 in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, 8 sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you. 9 Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things. (Titus 2:1-9)
I do not see anything here that even gives the impression that when a believer reaches a certain age he is entitled to come to church and just sit. Very clearly, though, we see that the older are to teach the younger. And that is precisely the biblical model . . . older individuals training, discipling the younger. Sure, many folks in their 60’s-90’s cannot keep the pace of a younger individual, but they have much wisdom to impart. Therefore, invite a younger man or woman to your home to disciple and train in
- Teaching a Sunday School class
- Cooking and hospitality
- Serving as a deacon
- Ministering to children
- Wood-working or some other skill
- Being a godly husband or wife
So, my encouragement is, older pastors, keep on keeping on! Stay fresh in the Word and on your knees! Don’t grow old and stiff and “stuff-shirted.” Find a young man and pour your life into him. Love him and show him the blessings of ministries. My dad always said he like to have younger people around him because they made him feel younger.
Aged believers in Christ, “be like a presidential candidate.” Invest in the lives others rather than believing you are entitled to retirement in your “rocking pew.”
So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. (Psalm 71:18)
The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him. (Psalm 92:12-15)
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16)