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.
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?