There is a massive danger in us thinking only in terms of being relevant in regard to age. Our culture teaches us that the older you are, the less relevant you become to society and, especially, to those who are younger. But this is only a cultural idea. You won’t find such a notion in the Asian or African cultures, and you certainly won’t find it in the Bible.
Rather, there is a respect that is demonstrated for the elderly. Those with more experience at life – those who have lived for multiple decades – have learned lessons that the younger generation needs to hear.
As the Church, we – first and foremost – should embrace the wisdom of the gray hair. If we shift them to a position of being irrelevant, we have made a grave mistake. When we refuse to learn from those who have walked before us, we are destined to make errors that could be prevented by their wisdom.
Some time ago, I read a story about a missionary who was ministering among a Native American tribe. One day, one of the Native American tribal leaders posed a scenario. “If you knew there was some horrendous catastrophic event coming, and there was one last flight out, you, in your culture, would take the younger people and leave the elderly behind. We, from our cultural perspective, would do just the opposite; we would take the elderly and leave the younger ones.”
The missionary admitted that the tribal leader was likely correct in his assessment, but asked why they would do it that way.
The tribal leader responded, “Because we know it only takes nine months to make a baby. It takes sixty years to make an elder.” Then, the tribal leader added another thought: “In your culture, you only have senior citizens. We have elders.”