Stand up in the presence of the elderly and show respect for the aged. Fear your God, I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:32
I have two confessions. Number 1 is I don’t ever remember reading this verse until this past week. Number 2 is this – I am about to get on my soapbox J
Most of you are aware that I have started thinking through a succession plan since I will be 67 in May. I have had the privilege of serving at America’s Keswick for 24 years, and in March, I will start my 25th year.
For the past six years, I have been reading everything I can on succession, and I have interviewed several Christian leaders who have been through the succession process. I asked them questions like:
- What did you do right?
- What did you do that if you could redo it, you’d do it differently?
- How has the succession played out?
I have learned so much through this process. I wish I could tell you that I heard many good stories and successful outcomes. Unfortunately, there are more disasters than successes.
Now aren’t you glad you engaged with me on today’s Freedom Fighter blog?
One of the things that I have seen way too often is how we don’t honor and respect our elders. Early on in my life, I was blessed to watch men and women who really knew how to do it well. Most of it was in the church setting where I observed how men in leadership cared for people who were senior saints and supported a pastor who had been the senior pastor for fifty years. There was great unity when it came to passing the baton to the pastors who followed him, and that I believe was because there was a culture of honoring and respecting older leaders in the church.
There is a considerable movement of disrespect for older leaders and senior saints written by today’s hipster bloggers and experts in reaching the next generation. One blogger continues to bash anyone over 50 who is in a leadership role suggesting that they need to step down and turn the reigns over to the next generation.
Quite frankly, we have done a disservice to the church because of this kind of thinking. We have allowed it to divide us rather than unite us. When we forget and fail to honor those who have come before us, we cause great harm to the church.
I am thankful that I learned early on in my ministry the value of respecting older leaders. I have been blessed to have dozens of men in leadership who are well into their 80’s. Their wisdom is invaluable.
You have heard me talk about my lifelong friend, Neil Fichthorn, who is 86. Several years ago, he was facing some major physical challenges and could not do some of the ministry things he has done for so many years. I challenged him that he had so much wisdom to offer people of all ages in his head, and I encouraged him to write – to put his thoughts on paper and share those thoughts with his family, friends, and key leaders.
He started writing for our Freedom Fighter blog, and now it has blossomed into a weekly ministry of writing emails to help Christians think biblically. Every week I talk with someone who says, “I love Neil’s emails. He makes me think.”
Young leaders need to love on and get their senior friends on board with their vision. You don’t do that by ignoring them or making them feel unwanted. And if young leaders are smart, they will discover that these are the folks who will not only pray for you – they will fund your vision with their giving NOW and their “after-living” giving.
Moses’ counsel was wise. Let’s stand up and show respect for the aged. And you know what? They’ll end up respecting you as well because they will feel valued.
Living in light of the Gospel,
Bill Welte, President/CEO
Bill would love to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Bill Welte, President/CEO of America’s Keswick: Bill has been married to his childhood sweetheart for 40+ years and has four married kids and 12 amazing grandkids. He loves music and is an avid reader.
Think About This: “There are many of us that are willing to do great things for the Lord, but few of us are willing to do little things.” – D.L. Moody