What is it about older men that causes me to gravitate towards them to listen and learn? The more I hear an older man share his insight, thoughts, perceptions, advice, and stories the more I feel I've just been taken to school. Now don't get me wrong, it's not that they intend to make me feel schooled, it's just... they know a lot more about life than I could ever think to know. So when an older man says, "this is what a successful, healthy, biblical ministry looks like," well, I'm all ears.
I know I said this about a week ago, but it seems the spirit of the age has contempt for the old, experienced, aged paths. We value the lure of the young, hip, cool, and trendy. It bothers me, deeply bothers me, that churches seem to discard from leadership older men rather quickly. Once a pastor turns sixty it seems that his expiration date of relevance and wisdom has passed and so he should be put out to pasture in order to bring a young buck in who can bring "sexy" back to the church. What a farce!
I sat under the teaching of a man in his seventies this weekend that showed me he was far from expired. His wealth of wisdom and insight and direction was profound and unmatched. No pastor in his thirties (including me) could level the same amount of insight and clarity that he did about marriage, ministry, raising children, preaching the Bible, working hard and just about every issue of life.
I worry for the church in the United Stated that we're losing our seasoned, wise veteran pastors for the sake of young, flashy, bold (even brash) men who don't have a clue how to live with wisdom. Sure, there might need to be a good succession plan, a wise hand-off, and a retooling of direction for the church and its leadership to keep it on mission and moving forward with the gospel. The church needs the energy and enthusiasm and physical man-power of younger pastors. But the day a local church pushes out its older leader for less than biblical reasons (meaning disqualification) is the day it's capitulated to the spirit of the age and lost all anchoring direction for the next generation. I long for more older men in the church. I desire to hear their voice, their wisdom and their insight. I want the church to grow up, be wise and lead in the midst of the world well.
Why do I respect the old guys? Simple. Track record. They've been there, done that, seen it all, and came through the fire well. Why do I respect guys like Chris Bauer, Ray Ortlund, John MacArthur, John Piper, Kent Hughes and others with gray hair and decades of life and ministry under their belt? They've been faithful to the call of God on their life through the duration and they continue to be so. They've walked wisely, humbly in the world and have proclaimed Christ and him crucified. They remind me that I too can run the race of ministry as a faithful man. That I don't have to buy the cultural kool-aid of the trendy ministry and the trendy church. I need more older men for the race before me. They've done it well, so why wouldn't I want to learn from them?
We need the older men. Heaven help us when we discard them for the young and trendy. Heaven will help us when we close our mouths, humble ourselves and listen to the wisdom of those who walk before us. "He who walks with the wise will become wise" (Proverbs 13:20).