The following post is contributed by Rhonda Abbott Blevins, associate pastor with the Tellico Village Community Church and an associate with Pinnacle Leadership Associates. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Getting old ain’t for sissies!” At my church this cliché gets thrown around more than pop flies at a Little League game. In my congregation of mostly senior adults, many face declining health, and most meet those challenges with great strength. “Sissies” they are not. I’ve learned amazing life lessons by being their pastor. These lessons aren’t new—I simply didn’t pay adequate attention to them until serving a congregation of seniors. Here are five lessons I’ve learned from serving “senior church.”
Lesson #1: Live Fully Today
Make the most out of the time that’s been given. I don’t know what tomorrow holds, or even if I’ll see tomorrow. I must cherish each moment with the people I hold dear. I must remain open to new sources of love and friendship throughout life. Live life to the fullest today, because today is all I’ve got.
Lesson #2: Nurture the Soul
Everything external fades away. If I build my life on career or marriage or family or abilities to speak or write, I’m building a house of cards. The only thing I can count on is God’s presence in my life. If I neglect that primary relationship, my world will fall apart if I lose my job, if my spouse dies or divorces me, if my kid grows up and wants nothing to do with me, or if illness diminishes my cognitive ability. If I nurture my inner world, I can stand strong in the face of this constantly changing life.
Lesson #3: Laugh!
I’ve got to quit taking myself so seriously. Life is too short. Celebrate whenever possible—there will be sadness enough for the living of many lives. Seek out cheerful people, not complainers or “glass-half-empty” people. There will be time for tears. There will be time to “take up the good fight.” But whenever possible, laugh one of those belly laughs that make your stomach muscles tired.
Lesson #4: Take Care
I must take care of me. I’ve got this one body; I’ll never get another one. God cares how I treat my body, about my rest, exercise, and nutrition. Probably most people aren’t happy with some part of the body they’ve been given because it doesn’t meet society’s benchmark for beautiful. Our bodies are a gift of God. I wonder how God feels when we dishonor or reject that good gift?
Lesson #5: Give Generously
It’s futile to try to hold on to money or possessions—there’s no such thing as ownership. No matter how much I accumulate, I can’t take it with me to the grave. I may think I own land, but before my death certificate is printed, someone else will lay claim to that land. Jesus knew this profound truth, and every time we pray “give us this day our daily bread” we are called to remember that most of us have enough bread for today. To keep more for ourselves is not only greedy, but futile.
These are just a few of the lessons I’m learning from my congregation of seniors. I’ve found that when I’m open, the lives of senior adults are rich treasure houses of insight. I thank God for my senior adult friends and the invaluable life lessons they’re teaching me.
At age 92 and counting, We do the gym thing three times a week. I’ve found that setting goals is a
thing to keep me going, also. I’m writing my third book–two are already published. Autobiography keeps the memory sharp. See Trafford.com under Orey and the Gold Cross Rev. Orice F. Gracey