Growing up my Mom and Dad use to tell me to respect my elders. I was raised to say yes ma'am/sir, no ma'am/sir, etc. My parents instilled in me a love for the older generations and for our history and heritage. They didn't know it but they were actually following the Scriptures.
"Show respect to the elderly, and honor older people. In this way you show respect for your God. I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:32)
I look at the world around us and sadly I don't see much respect for the elderly, or honor for that matter. 20 years ago euthanasia was a word I only heard about in conjunction with Hitler and Nazi Germany. Yet today 5 nations and 2 US states allow some forms of "legal" euthanasia. How long before the elderly will consider themselves "lucky" to be put into a nursing home?
Then there is the polite respect and honor we show older believers in the church. Some pastors, if they are lucky, are promoted to "senior" pastor, allowed to preach occasionally and brought back for anniversary services.
Seniors are encouraged to rest in their older years and let the younger generation take over the youth groups, the Sunday school classes, etc. Even chances to teach become minimized over time.
Why is that?
My heart aches when I talk to older believers who no longer are made to feel useful or valid. Believers who feel they have been put on a shelf, like an antique, nice to look at and take down occasionally but quickly put back before they "break".
I remember traveling with an older minister, in his late 70's, whom I could not keep up with. He has passed now, but I remember vividly one conversation we had in which I asked him about retirement. He said, "My retirement is eternity. Until then I must be about the Lord's business."
"We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you" (1 Thessalonians 5:12)
We can learn a lot from our elders. I guarantee they have been in our shoes before. They've dealt with sickness, financial struggles, doubt, etc and have come through the other side. We can learn from them the ways of the Lord. We can hear God's heartbeat for each generation in their testimonies of God's moving in their lifetimes.
It is time for the church to stand up for those who have come before and to sit down at their feet and listen to the Godly lessons they can share with us.
Don't let the testimonies fade. Be a receiver. Listen. Learn. Love.