Never Too Old to Be Faithful Example

Never Too Old to Be Faithful Example

Jim Stinson, Former Consultant on Older Adult Ministries


She is 89 years old and is the secretary of the church. I had no idea of her age when I arrived there as the interim pastor about a month ago. All I knew of her was that the Staff Parish Relations Committee had told me, “If you need to know anything we have not told you about the church, ask Lois.” Obviously they have a great deal of love and respect for her wisdom and ability. In just the month I’ve worked with her it is clear why they feel this way. How I discovered her age was when she told me she was thinking of cutting back from four half days a week to three. She was certain it might save the church a little bit of money. Besides, she said, “I am 89 years old.” Wow! Good for you Lois.

Good for anyone who knows that aging may bring limitations, but does not necessarily bring an end to contributing to life. I’ve been thinking of so many older adults who defy the notion that it is necessary to stop doing so because a certain birthday has been reached. My years spent as director of spiritual life at United Methodist Homes has allowed me the privilege of meeting so many who “just keep going”—living life fully and meaningfully.

What really got these thoughts going was the arrival of Pope Francis in the United States. Here is a 78-year-old speaking words of truth to power, moving his flock and so many others to see from a different vantage point. Do I agree with every position he takes? No, I do not. But he unequivocally demonstrates ways of putting flesh on the commandment to love our neighbor. He pointedly says the immigrant is our neighbor and God’s gift to us. He directly challenges us to be aware that Jesus’ teaching about peace making is still the way. He shows a vitality of faith that is unwavering. He is inspirational and we can hope, transformational. And he is 78 years old.

Now most of us might never be able to influence so many, no matter our age. But all of us, regardless our age, can influence some, because of our faith-inspired life and attitudes. We, the church, too often forget this truth and fail to challenge everyone of every age to speak and live the truth we find in Jesus. We can do better!