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30 Apr '14

Spiritual maturity and its responsibility. For those 50 years old and older

Posted by T.J. Addington in maturity
Congregations can be messy places. They are a constant challenge of relational issues, diverse points of view, differences in the "way we should do things" and the list goes on. Things can get messy! Oh, and there is that issue of change and people who mess with the way things were or should be. 

I have been around the church for a long time now, some 58 years and my observation would be that some of the most difficult people in the church are those like me who have been around a long time. We have opinions. We may have influence from our long tenure and, well, as we age, we can become less tolerant of change and get cranky about it.

Before I say what I really want to say, I would add this caveat. What irritates me personally is not change or the way we do things but young pastors who think that those who are over 50 are irrelevant to their plans, dreams and future of the church. And who because of this ignore them or marginalize them. I have seen it happen all too often and it is plain wrong. It is also stupid (did I just say that?). These are the folks who for the most part pay the bills and who have been faithful through the years. The church is not about the young, it is about all people which some people would be surprised includes those over fifty.

Having said that, those of us who are older and who have been in the faith for a long time have a special responsibility. We need to model relationships, behavior, responses to change that are Godly, loving, conciliatory, and mature. It is true we may not like everything we see but it is also true that we need to live up to the maturity to which we have (hopefully) come. 

I am sad when I see cranky seniors (I am technically one so I think I can say this) who seek to keep the church from moving forward because it violates the way things have been done in the past. I see them on church boards and they cause conflict and often bring more disunity than unity. Differences of opinion are not the issue but the way they are expressed and the way people are treated can be. Those of us who have a history in the faith ought to be the best at loving, accepting, graciousness and peace making. 

I have watched former denominational officials threaten to sue church boards because they didn't agree with their direction (it had nothing to do with theology). Former pastors who were divisive when the church didn't look any more like the church they were used to. Threats by folks to withhold funding when things did not go their way and just plain bad attitudes. It is sad and it does not reflect the character of mature believers. And this in the church, the Bride of Jesus! Sometimes it has taken the "blessed subtraction" of a home going to bring peace to a congregation.

As a young senior, I don't want to be a barrier to the church moving forward as I age (hopefully with grace). There are far more important things than the things that often divide congregations and as a believer of many years I (and many reading this) have a special responsibility to model the very best behavior of Jesus - for the sake of His church. 

(Posted from High Point, NC)