The older I get, the more I recognize that accomplishing what this title suggests is not easy. Eventually, we become one of the very old—and the number of faithful Christ-followers older than we are becomes increasingly hard to find. Nevertheless, I think we should try.
My pastoral mentor, Tom, is in his 70s. His long-term mentor died a few years ago at age 101. Still, though, Tom has two other mentors—one who is 88, and the other 97! Tom recently told me he was “trying to pull out of them all I can.” As my mentor, Tom continues to teach me about needing mentors despite increasing age. Here are some reasons why we need older mentors:
1. All of us will have room for growth until the Lord calls us home. None of us will have “arrived,” no matter how old we get. If we think we have, we’ve just provided another reason to have a mentor who keeps us straight—and who most certainly knows more than we know.
2. All of us need someone whose faithfulness challenges us. We need someone we can look to who has already walked before us—and who has remained faithful all the way. Watching someone follow God fully “all the way” is both encouraging and convicting.
3. All of us need someone in our life who’s walked where we’re headed. We still face new things as we age; in fact, we often journey down paths of health problems, retirement issues, etc., that we have not traveled before. Having an older mentor who has already walked these paths is surely beneficial.
4. All of us need someone in our life who is finishing well. Sadly, even some older church leaders have fallen morally. Apparently, no one is immune from strong temptation. We need to see others who’ve walked before us, fought the fight, and run the race well.
5. All of us need a veteran believer praying for us. Actually, we need any prayer warriors we can get on our side – but there’s something special about someone older than we are interceding for us to follow the Lord well. Veteran believers usually know how to pray.
6. It’s good for us to see older believers face death in faith. I realize this reason sounds morbid, but it never hurts us to see undying faith—even in the face of death. In the paraphrased words of New Testament professor Bill Lane to his student, Michael Card, it’s good for us to see “how a Christian man dies.”*
So, no matter how old you are, ask God to give you an older mentor. Keep looking until you find one, and “pull out of him (or her) all you can.” If you have no one who lives near you, contact someone who lives elsewhere. You can still learn from a mentor via electronic means.
*Michael Card. The Walk: A Moment in Time When Two Lives Intersect (Kindle Locations 572-573). Kindle Edition.
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