As one who is getting older, by natural reasoning I’ve also questioned how valuable older Christians are to God and His church. After all, we are a spirit (eternal beings), we have a soul (our mind, will, and emotions), and we live in a body (an earth-suit that has a limited, earthly time frame). Generation after generation has pondered the same question of whether God can continue to use us as we age. If He is going to use us, then how?
Let’s establish first of all that as born-again believers, we gave our lives to Him. We declared that our lives were going to be directed by Him and by His Spirit. Therefore, we have to understand that through our lives, He has led us, directed us, and gifted us in ways that only He could do.
Psalm 37:23 says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and He delights in his way.” That means the Lord puts us in the right place at the right time, to minister to whomever He wants. It also says in Romans 11:29 “For God’s gifts and His call can never be withdrawn.” (NLT). This means there is no “time limit” on our usefulness as children of God! Look at what God thinks about our usefulness and purpose in this life as we grow older:
“For I will show you lessons from our history, stories handed down to us from former generations. I will reveal these truths to you so that you can describe these glorious deeds of Jehovah to your children and tell them about the mighty miracles he did. For he gave his laws to Israel and commanded our fathers to teach them to their children, so that they in turn could teach their children too. Thus, his laws pass down from generation to generation. In this way each generation has been able to obey his laws and to set its hope anew on God and not forget his glorious miracles.”
- Psalm 78:2-7 (TLB)
Each generation is important to God as you can see…To keep the Gospel moving, you must find out how to transfer His truths from generation to generation. Yet, as you age, it can be insinuated that you are not as important in the church any longer. Your ways are considered “ancient.” Your music is considered “not cool enough.” Your views on character and how one should live are considered “old school.”
As a result of those feelings, maybe you’ve found yourself criticizing the youth and young adults of today? There seems to be a common concern throughout history that I’d like to share with you. Check out these surprisingly fun quotes:
FAMOUS HISTORICAL QUOTES REGARDING YOUTH CULTURE:
“The young people today are utterly dissolute and disorderly.” Martin Luther (Priest/Reformer) ~ 1520AD
“Young people nowadays love luxury; they have bad manners and contempt for authority. They show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, talk consistently in front of company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.” Socrates (Philosopher) ~ 420BC
“What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders. They disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?” Plato (Philosopher) ~ 400BC
“I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on the frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words… When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise [disrespectful] and impatient of restraint.”
Hesoid (Greek Poet/Philosopher) ~ 650 BC
“We live in a decaying age. Young people no longer respect their parents. They are rude and impatient. They frequently inhabit taverns and have no self-control” Inscription discovered on a 6,000 year-old Egyptian tomb
So, a popular quote for us in 2022 might be: “Today’s youth are all into their tech devices and not doing anything of value; they are defiant, disrespectful, all talk and no work. Kids think they rule the roost and fail to help around the house. Kids have no respect for old people. They argue with their parents, are on their iphones when company is over, live on fast food, burp and fart, and give their teachers headaches.”
As Solomon said, “there is nothing new under the sun,” which includes rebellious teens and adults who grow weary of teaching respect and manners.
Besides, our parents said all of that about us, and look how great we turned out. So, if you are tired, beaten down, or discouraged with the next generation, keep investing, teaching, and training and believe that today’s youth will turn out okay. Actually, as we read above, it is our job as the elder generation to not give up on our children and grandchildren and continue to use the gifts and abilities God endowed us with to continue to minister! Psalm 22:30 (NLT) “Our children will also serve him. Future generations will hear about the wonders of the Lord.”
The next time you think the “modern generation” is going from bad to worse, remember that God always had a rich handful of young heroes ready to change the world: Joseph the Dreamer, Daniel in Babylon, David the giant-killer, and let’s not forget the virgin Mary (still a teen when she became the mother of Jesus). So, Let’s work with God!
As older adults, we have to be careful to not underestimate our usefulness. We may be the smallest group in our church but the wisdom and the experience we carry is essential. So, back to the question of “How can God continue to use us as we get older?” The answer is easy! Continue to be the YOU whom God created! Look for opportunities to encourage those around you. Pray for them. Praise their achievements, and remember you’re in a “CHURCH FAMILY” – Just like our individual families contain the babies, school children, teenagers, college students, parents, grandparents and great grandparents.
On a practical side, look for ways to use your God-given talents and abilities. Follow after your heart’s leading. Some suggestions are as follows: Perhaps you are best at telling stories, then sign on to help teach a kid’s class, or start a small group. If you can play an instrument or sing, join the band or the choir. If you love rocking babies but are short on energy, become a “Lap-Lover” in the Nursery. Maybe volunteer to help distribute food at the FDC or minister in the convalescent homes. Become an Usher or Greeter in the sanctuary. There are many ways you can use your giftings and never forget, “God’s gifts and His call can never be withdrawn.”