How Old Are You?

A few years ago when my oldest was studying for a history test she asked me, “Mom, did you ride in a horse and buggy to school?” My jaw-dropped, “Just how old do you think I am?!?” Of course on the other hand, I answered the door one day to find a salesman who asked if my mom was home. To which I had to reply, “I am the mom.”

So, I guess how old you are is a matter of perspective. It also seems to be more about how old you are on the inside rather than how old your body is. Many times in ministry I’ve heard younger people complain about how the old people don’t want to try anything new, and I’ve heard older people complain about the lack of commitment they see in those younger than themselves. At the Kentucky Baptist Convention this year it was suggested that younger pastors tend to be more globally focussed while older pastors are more community minded. And of course, there are the “worship wars” that are still being fought over “old” and “young” types of music in church. I know that stereotypes often have specks of truth in them (comparing my life in KY with the plethora of redneck jokes on the market is proof enough of that). However, I’ve found that often some of the most bold and inventive people in the church have been retired for years, and some of those who are making the deepest sacrifices for their faith are just babies in comparison. (I’ve also seen young energetic church members commit to everything BUT church and older members dig in their heels and complain about change…but that’s a whole ‘nuther blog…)

I like to think of myself as flexible and open to new ideas, but just the other day I found myself digging in my heels and saying those dreaded words: “We’ve never done it that way before.” Exactly how old am I, again? Sorry, Lord. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t want be “too young” to be faithful to God’s calling, but I also don’t want to get “too old” to be obedient.

My husband always says that he wants to be like Caleb in the Old Testament who, when he was in his 80’s he asked Joshua to give him the mountain to conquer because God was not finished with him yet.

I think I want to be a lot like my Nanny who, while she is in her…ahem…later years, continues to love worship music of all kinds, support her pastor no matter how outlandish his ideas, and love the church no matter how different it becomes. (I had to leave out her age because even though she doesn’t use the internet she would somehow know and not appreciate me posting her age for the world to see…)


So, what do you think? Are the stereotypes true or do people just use them to excuse their wrong behavior (i.e. “I’m old so I can be ornery” or “I’m too young to be expected to do anything”) What has been your experience?

In thinking about life & ministry how old are you really?


2 thoughts on “How Old Are You?

  1. Thanks to Shane, David now has a shirt that says, “If my music is too loud, you’re too old!” It’s one of his favorites, but he doesnt wear it very often. I asked him about that the other day. He said it was a little too “in your face” for most places he goes. It makes me happy that he loves his music, but he loves people more. He’s young at heart, but mature enough to care for others. Pretty cool.


  2. Ageism definitely exists, and it always catches me off guard when I fall into it. Whenever I find myself saying things like “You’ll understand when you’re older,” I know I need to look in the mirror and recognize that I’m both too old and too young, that I’ve grown tremendously in the past year but that I’ve also got a looong way to go…and I hope that even when I’m in my 40’s, 50’s, even in my 80’s that I’ll still have a long way to go.

    That being said, here are some of the other “dangerous” catch-phrases that pop up in my church community:

    When younger/ newer members come up with an idea that someone else already had: “We’ve tried that and it didn’t work.”
    When newer people start to talk about how much needs to be done: “You should have seen what things were like a year (or 5, or 10 years) ago.”
    When a younger person complains about the way things are: “Well, I never had this or that, you should be grateful.”

    We need to stop discrediting each others’ experiences, and begin to allow one another the room to grow. Sometimes I’ll be like a spiritual toddler. And the very next day I might get to be the sagely grandmother.

    Good food for thought, and btw, thanks for your comment over on my blog!


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