Old People, New Focus

A few weeks ago I got to teach what we call our "Prime Timers Class." It's one of my favorite classes to teach in, because the class is full of men and women who have been walking with Christ for longer than my parents have been alive. Some of them have been walking with Christ since before my grandparents were born.

It's easy for younger pastors to marginalize an older generation. It's also easy for an older generation to marginalize a younger generation. My heart is to be a part of a church where many generations are actively celebrating the unique perspectives and gifts of other generations, rather than fighting for their own territory.

We talked about Psalm 71, a Psalm that most scholars attribute to David. Many of the scholars who attribute this Psalm to David believe it was written during the time when a younger generation was literally attempting to marginalize the older generation - David's son Absalom was trying to take his father's throne (2 Samuel 14-18).

The whole Psalm is great, but I love the perspective of the Psalmist. He trusts in God to plead his case (71:2-4) and rehearses God's past faithfulness to Him (71:5-8). He begs that God would not cast him away in his old age (71:9-13) and commits to hope and praise no matter what knowing that God wouldn't waste the years God spent developing him (71:14-17). And I love, love, love the Psalmist's  request in 71:18, right before he begins to worship for the rest of the Psalm:

"Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come."

He isn't focused on preserving or protecting the past - he's not concerned with forms. He says "Don't let me die, Lord, until I've made sure the next generation knows how great you are."

We can discuss forms and styles and volume and traditions, but I'm thrilled to serve a church with a huge contingent of older men and women who are more focused on fighting for a chance to build the future than fighting for a chance to preserve the past.


John Hughes said...

Us old folk have been brought up in a culture here that never lets us forget: The Lord works though a yield life; the person does not work for the Lord on his own. There is so much more, but this is an essential starting point. From this point the Lord may move, even old folk, to will to do and to do His good and perfect will. This being done in the knowledge that He will enable us.