Home > Ramblings > The Wisdom of Age

The Wisdom of Age

One of our older missionaries lamented the other day how in one Asian country younger believers were not reluctant to give their opinion and even advice to him rather than seeking out the wisdom from his 30 plus years of ministry. In fact, I remember a few years ago when I was told that at age 51, I was considered too old for a pastoral position of spiritual formation. They were looking for someone younger to reach the younger crowd. I know I try to intentionally elicit and listen to the stories of those older than me and at the same time respect the life journey of the younger crowd. We had an older Swiss couple join us here as missionaries recently, filling in for 6 months to run our vacation home, listening to folk, making video for people and Herbert is going strong at close to 70. One pair of a Welsh couple on the field is over 70! Thank you my friends for continuing the race!

John Frye over at Jesus the Radical Preacher wrote the following wise words

When old people speak

listen for the ages in their words.

They say “I remember” and we skip

back over Viet Nam, over Churchill and World War II,

landing somewhere in the Great Depression,

feeling the hot dust and deprivation.

When old people speak

honor the silences that carry time,

fragile yet weighted with life;

the silences from which startling,

future-shaping words embrace the soul.

When old people speak

don’t confuse the wispy, airy sounds

with lack of strength or depth of soul.

Imagine life so full, so hard, with pain and peace,

that words are too flimsy to bear it.

When old people speak

sit and watch, listen and listen well,

for their frail, soft utterances

define, refine meaning in your journey,

saving you from all that’s hollow.

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  1. Charlie
    August 7, 2008 at 7:48 pm


    Another excellent post. Don’t know how it is in the east, but as you know in the west we tend to idolize youth, and good-looking youth at that. What a treasured resource and relationship we lose in our older folks when we fail to appreciate them.

    Press on.


  2. August 7, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    Thanks for the affirmation and the link to “Jesus the Radical Pastor.” God bless you.

  3. Andrew
    August 8, 2008 at 12:04 am

    The young underestimate the wisdom of the old; the old underestimate the wisdom of the young. Thus it has always been and thus it always will be.

    Can’t we just learn to appreciate wisdom wherever it may be? For every story about Rheoboam and his old versus his young advisors, there is a story about Job’s old versus his young friends.

    I’ve met far too many foolish condescending old people and far too many foolish arrogant young people to think otherwise. There is no wisdom in physical age, only in conformity to the mind of Christ.

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