Friday, October 2, 2015

The wisdom of elderly Christians

He had grown up during the depression and served in World War II. After returning home and becoming a Christian he and his wife began attending the church I would later pastor. He had been a deacon in that church for decades. When we began taking communion to our shut-ins he would go with me since he had known these folks for years.

We didn't always agree, especially when I would introduce a new idea that would cost the church money. The church had been on the verge of closing and struggled keeping their bills paid when I came there as pastor. This farmer remembered those days very well, so he was reluctant to spend money on things he didn't think was necessary.

Eventually, we grew enough so we could rotate our deacons as our constitution required. Any time he would rotate off he would be re-elected as an active deacon a year later when he became eligible. It was about a year after his second re-election that he came to me saying he thought he would resign as deacon. Our church was experiencing some good growth and doing new things. His concern was that due to his life experiences he would be a hindrance to all the things the church was doing. He enjoyed the new life in the church and didn't want to do anything that might hinder that.

I urged him to not resign from his leadership position. I told him the church needs to hear from those with his experiences, and we needed to hear his concerns when he felt we were going too fast or in directions that might not be wise. Fortunately, I was able to convince him and he remained serving as a leader in our church until health issues forced him to step aside.

Too many pastors, especially younger ones, don't want to hear from the older members. I certainly didn't, especially when I felt they were hindering the forward movement of the church. I especially didn't want to hear from them when they were opposing my latest, greatest idea. Looking back, I realized that their concerns often prevented us from making unwise decisions. I learned to appreciate their wisdom.

Another thing I learned to do was to talk to them when they opposed some new thing. Several area pastors told me when I went to that church that I wouldn't last there six months due to the people who ran that church. Fortunately, I learned that these were not evil people. They were people who were concerned about the future of that church in which they had invested their lives. Sometimes when I explained to them why I wanted to do certain things they became my greatest supporters, and much of our success was due to their support.

Appreciate the wisdom that your older members have. Yes, some of them are church controllers who will do all within their power to protect their position in the church, but many of them are people who love both the Lord and the church. They have experiences you may not have so you need to listen to them. Many of them have given much to your church, and they still have a lot to offer if you'll allow it.

No comments: