When You Are Old And Think You Have Nothing Left To Offer
“Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life”
A senior citizen, eyeing a parking spot that had just been vacated at a mall, was slowly backing up his aging luxury car, to get room to maneuver into the spot when a teenager in a small, red sportscar came from the other direction and zipped into the spot. Jumping over the side of his little car, the youth called out, “That’s ’cause I’m young and fast.” The old man revved up his engine and plowed ahead—straight into the little sportscar folding it up like an accordion. Then, turning to the horror-stricken youth, he said, “That’s ’cause I’m old and rich.”
Why is there a gap between the young and old? I did a study of what Scripture says about the elderly. First, I noticed that many directives are found in the Old Testament, most of them written by Moses, ensuring not only that the elders among us be given respect, but that their needs be provided for. About all that Paul adds is that widows are properly taken care of by the family of God.
I’ve also noticed that the farther we as a society move from God’s norm and plan, the more we shuttle our elders to “warehouses for the aged,” as Margaret Mead described them, checking on their health only to determine how long it will be until the will is executed and we can get our hands on their money.
“Grandma,” asked a little boy, “where do you keep your bucket?” Somewhat puzzled, the elderly lady asked, “What do mean, ‘my bucket’?” “Well,” replied the little boy of about five, “daddy says that when you kick the bucket, we get a lot of money.”
What do seniors have which younger generations need besides money? Plenty! Try these for a living inheritance.
Gift #1: Give the benefit of your experience. No, your children and grandchildren don’t always want advice on how to handle things. They, like you did a generation before, want to live their own lives and make their own mistakes. But your experience is a valuable asset. Shared judiciously and kindly, it can be a tremendous help. Nobody can live long enough to make all the mistakes so we can learn much from the experience of our elders.
Gift #2: Share your wisdom. “Old so soon; smart so late,” we sometimes quip, yet the reluctance to sue, or to tell off your boss, or to file for divorce which an older generation has is often not a weakness, but a reflection of their greater wisdom—something which can be acquired only with time. Frankly, wisdom is something that is transmitted by being there, by caring, by listening, not by a recitation of, “Here’s what I would do if I were you” counsel.
Gift #3: Provide connectivity. And what’s that? If you are the senior generation—whether you are 60 or 90, you are the bridge to the past, and there is tremendous strength in being connected to the family tree. It’s the difference between a sapling blowing in the wind and a branch being attached to an Oak or Banyan tree. Talk about your youth, your family, and your memories as a child. These memories form a valuable tapestry.
Gift #4: Perspective. “One of the reasons young people take their lives,” commented a funeral director, “is that they lack perspective. They don’t understand that you can work through problems.” You seniors have been there. You’ve lived through wars and depressions and you know that God will take you through tough times. Pass that on.
Gift #5: Godliness. This, of course, you can’t pass on unless you have it yourself. Timothy was the product of his godly mother and grandmother. Though God has no grandchildren, godly parents can make a tremendous difference to the third and forth generation. Never forget it.