The Powerful Act of Honoring Your Seniors
I recently took on a new position leading worship in a small church on the outskirts of Nashville. They are good people and there are a lot of great things happening in those church walls. However, they are feeling the same stress that many of our churches feel today, and that is staying relevant with our ever changing culture in music worship and not leaving our senior population in the background feeling marginalized. Let’s be honest, if it were not for their lives, traditions and heritage we would not be in those walls today. So what is the answer for young worship leaders today trying to navigate this tug of war? One word. Love. You have to love your senior people.
I worked for 13 years in a health and wellness center spending much of my days working alongside senior adult participants. One of the most important things I learned in that job was that when an older adult begins to lose their independence, they often begin to lose hope. And when people lose hope, they often grasp onto anything that is known and trusted in their lives. Change is difficult and people naturally want what is familiar. But I also found as I validated their giftedness and encouraged them to reach out to the people around them, they were willing to rise to the challenge and hope would begin to return in their lives.
My fellow worship leader friends, can I encourage you to validate your people? Honor your seniors with a genuine love and respect. You will be amazed at the things that you will learn from them!
My current worship leading position is part time and I don’t have the luxury of spending hours in the office for drop in appointments and lunch dates. So, this week I hosted a luncheon for around 50 seniors who attend our church so that I could get to know them a little bit and let them hear from my heart. I sent them an invitation stating that I wanted to meet with them and explain to them why they are the most important key to growth in our local church. Let me say right off, we never once discussed music worship in the church. Maybe someday...but not this day.
Instead, I validated them with a message that I have shared before. Here’s the message.
“You are valuable.”
Isaiah 46:4 - "Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.’
“This was a promise to the people of Israel. But our God is the same God that spoke those words to His people. We are also His people. I believe today that God MADE you, he will SUSTAIN you EVEN TO YOUR OLD AGE. Why would God do this? Why would He make this promise to us if our lives are no longer valuable here on earth? You may be retired from a job...but God has not retired you!”
I shared with them Hebrews 12:7 - “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?” I went on to tell them this.
“Your history and heritage in Jesus is unlike anyone else’s. No one else can effect the world around you like you can. The lessons you have been taught and the hardships you have faced have made you who you are. And hopefully, we have all learned to allow those life lessons draw us closer to Christ and to become more like Him.”
We then dove into this scripture:
Eph. 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
I reminded them that “God still has work for you to do... work that He has prepared in advance for you! That’s exciting! He has specific assignments just for you!!!!”
I went on to explain “God Assignments” as a way of life to listen to the Spirit throughout your day and be willing to act on His assignments when He speaks. Perhaps it will be paying for someone’s gas or spending time with a teen in the church. I challenged them to be faithful to ask the Lord daily and be willing to share with each other what God is doing in their midst. I asked them to speak out their faith because a younger generation is starving and thirsty to know that God is real. Young people can see fake a mile away and they are not interested in just “doing church.” I reminded them that no one else in these walls can testify to the reality of God in their lives the way they could.
I left them with this challenge:
“Young people hunger to know God...but they can detect fake and they don’t like it. How can YOU help them to see the reality of God? You can offer them love and acceptance. You can invest in them. You can offer God Talk. God talk is sharing what God is doing in your life TODAY... answered prayer, sharing hope, sharing the Joy of the Lord.
Let’s face it...when you and I are gone... when Jesus takes us home... the future of this church remains in the hands of those coming after us. And if we don’t foster right relationship, testimony and genuine love of God with the younger generation, this church will not grow...it will die. It’s a heavy assignment. But I believe it is the assignment God is calling us to step into.”
We closed with this scripture and very few dry eyes in the room. The Spirit of God was near and there was a new sense of awareness that we are called with a purpose...even to our old age.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
When the Spirit leads and we have another luncheon (as they have already requested that we do this again!) we will begin to discuss the importance of letting change happen in our music so that the same message of God is delivered in a relevant way that younger generations can understand. But not this day...this day was all about love.
Submitted by: Shelly Head
Worship Pastor at Gallatin Church of the Nazarene
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