On any given Sunday, I will speak to three generations of the same family. Throughout the week, I’ll spend time with millennials, children, families, and senior adults. Because of this, I find myself living and working in a lot of different worlds, yet during weeks like this, it’s more apparent than most.
On Tuesday nights, I’m the primary Bible teacher for Kairos—a young adult worship experience. I’m also the executive editor for Mature Living, a LifeWay publication for Senior Adults. Go figure.
Some days these extreme differences collide. As most physicists will tell you, it’s when things run into each other that you make exciting discoveries. This week, the collision is happening. I’m getting ready to write a column for Mature Living while also getting ready for Kairos worship.
Here are four things I want to say to my friends who also claim the senior discount for movies and coffee.
- Remember that senior adults are vital to the life of a healthy church. Without seniors, who can tell the stories of the church’s life? Who has testimony of how God has worked? The church suffers from amnesia. Senior adults are the memory of the church. Without their involvement, the church will simply repeat past mistakes and totally miss essential moments of life and congregational transformation.
- Remember that young adults crave time with senior adults. They don’t know how to start the conversation, but they love any time they can get with their older friends. Can you imagine trying to be a husband when you’ve never seen a husband? A wife when you’ve never seen a wife? A dad or mom when you didn’t have one present in your life? These young adults love hearing about how to hold a marriage together for 40 or 50 years. They love counsel from a retired executive about how to negotiate a successful career. Look around. Is there a young adult sitting next to you? Take them for a cup of coffee. You might be surprised at their response.
- Remember that we are commanded as mature believers to teach and instruct younger believers. There is nothing as powerful as biblical truth that has been proven through the fires of life. Join a young adult Sunday School class. Pray for them and let them know you do. God uses such moments to recreate family structures that have been broken or lost. You may be called (and privileged) to be a young adult’s grandparent or parent. Sometimes, there’s a hole in this young adult’s life God will use you to fill. Once, when we were rethinking Kairos, I suggested it might be time for a new teacher. Several of them pushed back on the idea, “Mike,” they said, “we don’t have anyone your age speaking truth into our lives.” (Polite, aren’t they?)
- Remember that there’s a reason for every season. Age has its privileges. Wrinkles are earned. We’ve lived long enough to see through all of the hype and smoke of the world around us. We know what matters and we’re not wasting a minute on what doesn’t. The lessons we’ve learned the hard way are pure gold to young adults who can receive our wisdom without the scars. Sit down with a young executive and remind him that life’s greatest trophy isn’t the corner office, but a child who grows into adulthood fully formed into the person Christ created them to be. That kind of trophy only happens when you spend less time at the office and more time at home. How long did it take for us to learn this one? Don’t make the next generation pay for the same mistakes. Get close to them. Earn the right to lovingly speak truth into their lives.
Some people call senior adulthood a second childhood. Maybe…maybe not. But I do know this—it is a second chance for some of us. God is up to something. Get up, find out what it is, and then get engaged in His work.