Why Senior Adults Matter Now More than Ever

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.

Happy senior cuople.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?)
  4. 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.

5 Things a Real Man Knows

From time to time, a young man will walk up to me, point across the room to a young lady, and ask me if I know her. I’ll say, “Yes, I do.” When the young man hears that, he’ll ask me if I’ll make an introduction. I usually decline. The young man will be surprised and ask why not? My answer is simply, “I have credibility with her and if I introduce you, I’ll lose all of my credibility.”

Once more, he’ll be shocked and want to know why I said that. “Because,” I’ll say, “she’s looking for a man to share the journey, not a boy to raise.” If I hear anything from young women, it’s this: Where are the men? OK, I know all of the jokes about a man-eating lion starving to death, but honestly, the women have a point.

We seem to be raising a nation of boys. What’s the difference between a man and a boy? Here are a few thoughts off the top of my head.

  1. A man knows who he is. Outward trends or pressures do not define him. He’s made his own choices about what matters to him and he has the courage to live out his values—even when they are contrary to culture.
  1. A man knows where he’s going. A man has a plan and the perseverance to work that plan, even when the work becomes difficult. A man can achieve a goal that takes years to complete.
  1. A man knows how to handle money. He’s not over-extended or addicted to bling. He has long-term financial goals and the self-discipline to accomplish them.
  1. A man knows how to treat a lady. He’s not a chauvinist; he is her champion. He’s not threatened by a woman’s success. In fact, he celebrates it. His manhood is secure enough that it cannot be covered up by an apron or a diaper bag.
  1. A man invests in the lives of others. People become more of who they are because of his friendship. People like being around him because they like who they are when they are with him. A man has a way to make you believe.

I tell young men, “If you can walk up to a young lady and say, “This is who I am and this is where I’m going. I’d love to have you along for the journey,” young ladies will listen to that.

If you’re a young man and you can’t answer these questions, you’re not ready for a relationship—not a serious one, anyway. Don’t look for a young lady who can get your stuff together for you. That’s not fair to her. She doesn’t want to be your mom.

Trust me, guys, if you find the guts to man up, you won’t have any problem getting dates…or more importantly, finding the young lady you want to share the journey with.

Getting to Class

Most schools have attendance requirements. That is, students can only miss so many times and still pass the class. Most of my classes, however, had an implied attendance requirement—students would never pass the class if they didn’t attend class.

Funny, isn’t it? We would never expect to pass chemistry if we never attended the classes or labs. Passing English would be impossible if you never read the material. All of us understand this. You can’t do well in your studies if you never attend class. You’ll never learn the subject if you don’t engage in an active learning environment.

Why is it, then, that we expect to grow as Christ-followers if we never attend class? For three years, the disciples stayed with Jesus. They were with Him 24/7. Throughout the Gospels, we’re told people would sit at the feet of Jesus. That’s the way rabbis taught in the days of Jesus—seated with their students on the floor around them. Jesus was a rabbi—a teacher. Yes, He was more than a rabbi, but He was still a teacher.

A good teacher loves nothing more than an eager student—someone who is as passionate to learn, as the teacher is to teach. If you’re eager to learn from Jesus, He’s eager to teach you everything He knows. In fact, you’ve been accepted to His school. Your tuition’s paid. Now, all you have to do is show up for class, pay attention, and take good notes.

And one more thing, be sure to bring your textbook…He refers to it a lot.

Four Steps to a Transforming Bible Study

Four Steps to a Transforming Bible Study

The Bible has always been part of my life, so it’s easy for me to assume that it’s been part of everyone’s life. Obviously, this is not true. Some people are total strangers to the Bible and getting started in Bible Study can be intimidating. So, here are my “helpful hints” in getting started.

First, get a Bible.

No, I’m not being funny, just honest. By this I mean get a Bible you feel comfortable reading.

There are several good translations. I use the Holman Bible. It’s easy to read and understand. Find a Bible that feels good in your hands, the print is easy on your eyes, and one that you can carry around with you easily. If you get a “study Bible”—a Bible with a lot of study aids added to the text—you’ll end up carrying around a book that weighs about 5 pounds.

Yes, you can get the Bible in a digital format. I use Bible software that is very rich. Most pastors do.

For everyday reading, however, I prefer a paper version of the Bible. Studies are now showing that we remember reading words on paper better than reading words on a screen. One reason for this is that reading words on paper involves more of our senses than reading words on a screen. We turn the pages, we trace the words with our fingers, we underline the text—we’re totally engaged with the text. As a result, we remember more.

Second, establish a time and place to study the Bible.

We are creatures of habit and forming a habit of time and place will reinforce your study. It can be early in the morning or late at night. Just find the time and place that works for you.

Third, use some kind of system in reading.

Jumping from verse to verse won’t allow you to grasp the full meaning of the verses you’re reading. Read through a book of the Bible. Read the Bible all the way through. There are several plans available. Again, find one that fits your needs.

Now, let’s get started with the text. Read slowly. There’s no race or finish line. The goal is to know God better, not to be the fastest reader. Read until something causes you to think…and then…think about the passage. Keep a notebook handy and write down your thoughts and how the verse impacts your life. Think about the verses you read throughout the day. Apply what you’re learning to your daily choices. Remember, some things are learned only in obedience.

Fourth, stick with it.

Even on those days when you don’t think you’re getting a lot out of your study, you’re getting more than you think. We want the Word of God to be in our thoughts and conversations enough so that what we’re learning becomes who we are.

Remember, becoming more like Christ—the transformative process called “sanctification,” is a life-long journey. Speed isn’t as important as pace and persistence. Day-by-day and step-by-step is how the long journey from who we are to who we can be in Christ is accomplished. But, trust me, the journey is worth it.

Now, go get your Bible and get started. You’ll never get there at all until you start.