“Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD.”
In the early years of my ministry, I worked for a pastor who made an older man whom very few people knew a known name in his influence of Christianity. He made a statement that stuck with me and that I have tried to follow throughout my ministry. He said, “Find an old man, and make him great.” I don’t know where this pastor got that philosophy, but the verse above teaches it. God said that we should “rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man.” I fear that we live in a generation that looks at the older generation as a burden. The older generation may not be as energetic or exciting as the younger generation, but they have something to offer you, and they deserve your respect.
Several years ago, I took a tour group for a college to Chattanooga, Tennessee. This group of young men wanted to go by and see Dr. Lee Roberson, the man whom God used to build Highland Park Baptist Church. When we saw a man walking around the buildings, we asked him if he knew where Dr. Roberson’s office was. This man said about Dr. Roberson, “Oh, you mean that old man who sits in an office.” That statement was truly tragic because Dr. Roberson should have been honored instead of forgotten. Three lessons can be learned from this story and the verse above.
First, the older generation has done something you have not done. Much of what we enjoy today is because of the previous generation. Younger preachers would be wise to honor the older generation instead of criticizing them. Many preachers preach in buildings they never built, yet they want to cast stones at the older generation. Many children, even though they are now adults, owe their parents honor because they are where they are today because of the way they forged for them. We can be critical of our parents and think they should have done more, but our criticism is baseless because we don’t know the circumstances they lived in that paved the way for us to get what we have. You would be wise to honor the previous generation because they have paved the way for you, and you would not have what you have today without them.
Second, the older generation knows something that you do not know. One of the reasons you should honor the older generation is because they have wisdom about life’s circumstances that you have not yet faced. My grandfather died at 100 years of age. There were many times I would call my grandfather for advice because I knew he had faced things in life about which I had not even thought. Instead of picking at the weaknesses of the past or older generation, you would be wise to glean from their wisdom so you can avoid making the same mistakes they had to work through. Don’t be so haughty as to think that you don’t need the older generation; God gave them to you to give you the wisdom to avoid making mistakes that will hinder your potential.
Third, the older generation needs to feel wanted by the younger generation. The older generation fears being pushed aside because they know they don’t have the energy and polish of a younger generation. My friend, find an older person and make them great. Remember that one day you will get old, and how you treat them is probably how others will treat you when you get old. Be the type of Christian who honors the older generation, especially those who have served God their entire lives.