To my shock I am nearly 40. How did that happen? I don't feel 40!
One of the things this makes me think about is that the number of people who have actively fed me as a Christian over the years and have had a regular concern for my growth in Christ is going down. Some have died, others are serving God in distant countries. The older we get, the fewer people are likely to participate in our growth, and that is especially true for Christian leaders. I am starting to suspect this is true for everyone.
So, what can be done about it? I don't want to go stale, I want to keep growing, keep being pushed and encouraged to grow. Where might that come from. I can think of the following sources:
- Older belivers who are still around. But I might need to actively invite them to teach me and lead me
- Older believers who have died, but whose coat tales I can still ride by reading their wisdom and biblical teaching. This will require me to make some decisions about areas in which I want to grow and make deliberate plans to search out the people who can teach me. The temptation to not do so is everywhere - mostly busyness. Busyness is the ultimate spiritual growth killer for me. I can be tempted to believe that I simply don't have the luxury of time for extending reading, thinking, study, chewing the cud with others. After all I am nearly 40, didn't I get through that years ago?!
- Getting peers around me who have an active involvement. With the passing of time this needs to be done more and more intentionally with people who stick for the long term. Developing spiritual friendships with people we have a history of openness, honesty and mutual encouragement to grow is something we need to do early in life
- Getting younger believers and leaders to teach and lead me. Paul told Timothy to teach the older men. I am sure there must have been some leaders included in that. It's easy to assume that all the teaching goes one way, from me to the younger. But the older we get, the more godly teachers and leaders will be younger by definition. And it isn't easy to offer to help your olders, so they need to be invited too. A student friend recently dropped me a quick email with his news. And penned at the end "what is God doing in your life at the moment?" Well done Joe Greenhalgh - keep at it. We old guys need people your age to keep us pursuing God and running hard after him.