As I look back over my years of ministry, I think I’ve spent more time with people who are older than me than those that are younger than me. AT 51, that might start to change, but the aged still seem to garner more of my time.
I’m not unhappy about it or complaining, only wondering what it all means. Sometimes I forget that I too am growing older. A recent read from Calvin Miller about his life, before, during and after pastoring, is a great reminder that the pastor’s life is over all too soon. He too spent a lot of his time with older folks, I’m sure.
Maybe older folks just have more problems, at least that they will admit or talk about. I know enough young people to know that they too have a lot of challenges. Maybe their youth leads them to think that they need less help and encouragment along the way. They are more self sufficient. Yea, I remember feeling that way myself.
But sometimes, others, young and old is all you’ve got. And we ought to protect that and cherish it.
Quite a few years ago, a retired pastor’s wife asked me to visit her husband at home. He was ill, even a little tired of life itself. He had served his churches with every ounce of breath in him. Few pastors could keep up with him. His members knew that he worked as hard as anyone in the church.
As I visited with him, tears, even sobs filled his bedroom. He told me how much he did with his churches, how he visited at all hours of the day and night, how hard he worked and then he told me how he regretted that he did not really care for his own family. His own son had rebelled against him and the church.
I was kind of stunned. I had little to comfort him, could say little to get him to stop recriminating. One thing I did though was to take a deeper interest in his son. And I’m glad to say that his son had the chance to reclaim his faith.
Another thing I did was to begin to correct my own failures as a father and husband. I began to think of my family as a gift, not a tool to use in ministry. I still rely on them to help me serve our church, but now they set the pace and direction of their service, not me. The truth is, my ministry depends on God, not my family. I’m so glad for their help, but I’m more glad for their love.
I get to grow old with them. I am fortunate indeed.