My doctor started it. Medical charts don't lie. He knows how old I am. I've tried all of the tricks: Photoshop edits, neck-covering, and youthful clothes. But, truth be told, I'm old. Not really old, but semi-old.
Age happens. It chaps my hide when people treat me differently because of it. All of us have unique challenges, so why don’t we make it easier on each other?
A little understanding goes a long way. With that in mind, here are three ways ‘spring chickens’ can love ‘old people,’ and three ways elders should love those younger.
To those who are still young, my senior heart wishes that you would:
1. Keep loving me.
Assure me that you will still care when I get wrinkly and gray (and possibly pudgy). God still loves me, old or young, warts and all. I fear being rejected or forgotten.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with loving-kindness I have drawn you and continued My faithfulness to you.” – Jeremiah 31:3 AMP
2. Listen respectfully.
I’m smart (occasionally). I can teach you a lot.
No one cares if I earned a Doctor’s degree. The IRS just wants to know if I paid my taxes on time. The reason older people want to share what they have learned is because they want to save you the grief of making the stupid mistakes they made when they were younger.
We really have been around the block. We know what's on the other side of the hill because we are over the hill.
The Apostle Paul writes: “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” – Ephesians 5:15-16 KJV
The basic meaning of Latin circumspicere is "to look around." It implies a careful consideration of all circumstances and a desire to avoid mistakes and bad consequences.
However, I must not infer that the "good old days" are better than the present. Untrue.
“Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances.” – Proverbs 11:14 MSG
3. Connect with me.
I have many dear Facebook friends who used to hate me. Some left our church for one reason or another. When you are old, the little stuff in the past doesn’t matter anymore. (At least it shouldn’t). Friends are important. They are worth keeping.
King Solomon aptly wrote, “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity.” – Ecclesiastes 1:1. KJV
This phrase does not mean life is a waste. Vanity simply means mist. Time flies. You don’t get it back.
Now is the time to show appreciation, affection and affirmation to the elders in your life. They won’t be around forever.
When you are seven, your birthday seems like a century away. When you are old, you rack up birthdays like poker chips. Make every moment count. Love deeply…like Christ loves you.
Now, let’s preach to the choir. Here's my advice to elders on how to love ‘spring chickens.’ As an old person, I need to step up to the plate for those who are still in the game. How should I honor those who are wrinkle-free? Here are three ways:
1. Let go.
Little birdies need to fly.
Animals are smarter than people. They push their young out of the nest or into the wild to grow and flourish. Old people want to hang on rather than release control to their successors.
Sagely, Paul advises:
Paul encouraged Timothy. Some church deacon told Timothy he was too young and inexperienced to be the pastor. Timothy was more than capable.
Use your influence to empower and encourage the young.
2. Keep up.
Since we were here first, old people assume that a younger generation’s culture and technology should adapt to them. Not true. Take the time and energy to relate. Be relevant.
I took my new iPhone to the Verizon guy to fix a glitch. Thirty minutes later, the guy was still mystified by my issue. He reluctantly handed the phone to his manager. The manager chuckled and confessed a four-year-old kid taught him how to fix the problem last week!
If you want to relate to your kids and/or grandkids, use their technology. Go to their soccer games and recitals.
Be involved in the activities they love. Be passionately engaged in their world.
Paul referred to the importance of relating to others in his letter to the Corinthians:
“Yes, whatever a person is like, I try to find common ground with him so that he will let me tell him about Christ.” – I Corinthians 9:22 LB
Entering someone’s world builds trust. Be the hands and feet of Jesus to the next generation.
3. Grow wise.
Seniors have a reputation for being childish and set in their ways. Shame on us!
Spiritual maturity implies that we walk more closely with God. I love the fact that Moses was so intimate with Jehovah, he was buried by God’s own hand.
Old Paul knew the secret of aging God’s way:
“This is the reason why we never collapse. The outward man does indeed suffer wear and tear, but every day the inward man receives fresh strength. These little troubles (which are really so transitory) are winning for us a permanent, glorious and solid reward out of all proportion to our pain. For we are looking all the time not at the visible things but at the invisible. The visible things are transitory: it is the invisible things that are really permanent.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 J.B. Phillips New Testament
My husband Roger had a spiritual mentor. Albert Fox was his Sunday School teacher and friend. Mr. Fox walked alongside Roger every day, loving him, praying for him, and teaching him how to be a dynamic follower of Jesus.
Roger visited his spiritual father in the hospital. Albert had an inoperable brain tumor and was near death. He quietly whispered into Roger's ear, "Son, I want you to see how a Christian dies."
Roger was never the same. He was imprinted for life by his spiritual father.
Less of me, more of Jesus. That’s what spring chickens need to see from us elders!
Dr. Julie Barrier is an author, international conference speaker and minister of Casas Church for three decades. She now serves as CEO of Preach It, Teach It, providing free resources for pastors, missionaries and Bible students.
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