One of the things that people of my age think about a lot is retirement and when we can stop working. I know, it’s pretty crazy.
But it goes beyond the realms or work, and beyond the demographic of my own generation.
Many people in the church are asking the question ‘when am I old enough to stop serving?’ Often people ask this question after years of actively serving in a church and the motive behind it is not laziness but largely it’s because they want to see new people serving. This is a great thing, but I think the focus is slightly off.
Yes, there definitely is a time for someone to stop serving in a public and up front way in a church; reasons for this may include, but not always, age or ill health. However, just because the ‘up front’ service stops that does not mean that the serving does!
Serving in church is not a young persons’s game, even though based on those active in churches across the world on a Sunday you might think it is. Serving in church is for each and every person whether you’re 9 or 99. Service will look different for people of different ages and stages, but it shouldn’t stop once we hit retirement age.
The truth is that us younger folk need, and I mean NEED, the knowledge, wisdom, experience and advice of older saints. It’s so easy in church to speak to people of our own age and stage, to sit with people who we naturally get on with and find conversation easy with. But if we do this then we are seriously missing out!
Two weeks ago I sat next to two older gentlemen in the church where I serve, both well into their 80’s, and I asked them how I could be praying for them that week. Their response floored me! Instead of complaints about health and aches and pains, they asked me to pray that they would have energy to keep on serving! I was blown away and humbled by their answer and I though “God, give me their desires and make me like them when I’m their age”.
Although the way in which we serve might change with age, the act of servicing doesn’t. From experience, the best way to grow in your understanding and knowledge of a church is to speak to its oldest member. The best way to learn how to deal with particular situations is to speak to someone who has been there and lived to tell the tale.
Those who have taken the time to sit and pray with older saints, those who have listened to and been mentored by much older people are some of the best people I’ve come across.
So my plea to the older saints in the church is this; keep on serving, younger people need you!
In Titus 2 Paul is telling Titus to teach what is right and how to interact with people in the church (old, young, male and female), essentially Paul calls Titus to disciple people and to encourage discipleship.
That is what I encourage you to do; if you are older and you’ve stepped back from serving the church, why not grab a student or young person and have them over for coffee and read the Bible with them? Tell them your stories and your experiences so that you will help them become better believers, better servers, and better mentors when they become your age.
Church is not a young person’s game, there is no such thing as retirement in the service of God’s Kingdom, all you do is change the way you serve by training and passing on your knowledge to the next generation.
When is too old to serve? Never! If you’re old, the church needs you. If you’re old, the younger saints need you! If you’re old, please teach us how to grow, how to serve, and how to best glorify God in all areas of our life. The church across the world is full of older more seasoned saints who have laboured for years, we need to tap into that experience and use it to equip the next generation of believers.
You’re never too old to serve the Lord and you’re never too young to learn from others.
Keep serving, keep being an example and keep pointing people to the beauty of Christ and His gospel.