Home » Christ vs. Church, Discipleship, My Life, The Best Life » Moving in to Elderhood

Moving in to Elderhood

I’m making up a word for this piece. My automatic spellcheck has it underlined in red each time I type it, but I need it.

One of the tragedies of youth is that we receive truckloads and truckloads of good advice, truth, and wisdom that never makes it into our character. It seems that in our energetic youthfulness (most of which has come to us naturally) and our lack of attentiveness (most of which has been developed in us culturally), much of it is lost.

But more tragic is when these youthful qualities are never overcome, unlearned, and transcended as we age. I know far too many grown men and women who move far too frantically, ever-running after that elusive ‘something’ that is considered worthwhile, absolutely necessary, or required.

Now I admit that a big part (the biggest, I think) of growing up from childhood to adulthood is learning how to ‘take responsibility,’ and this quite rightly leads us in pursuits that are genuinely worthwhile, necessary, or required.

But should there not be another growing up? Should there not be a move from adulthood to, let’s say, elderhood?

In our culture these days, there seems to be a powerful lack of adulthood. Oh, there are plenty of folks who have passed their teenage years chronologically, but not socially or personally. I know plenty of chronological adults who have lived off their parents well into their 30s and only stopped once they could move on to living of their spouses, or their government, or the charity of good people.

But worse still, and I think far more problematic, is the powerful lack of elderhood. True elders seem to move more slowly, speak less often, control fewer things, and instead, contemplate more, notice people more deeply, and only walk into things if invited (and are not shy about letting others know that they are willing to be invited).

This lack of elderhood may actually be the real problem behind the lack of adulthood. Adults aren’t really that focused on the patient and painstaking formation of children into adults, and simply can not be in the business of forming adults into elders. It takes a unique depth of character, deliberation of thought, and real experiences of transitioning from “hood” to “hood” to focus on any kind of people development. And these skills and abilities are earned, and uniquely present in true elders. 

And there just are not that many. And the ones there are, we adults don’t have or make time to access, and we children don’t even know that we need to.

I was late to the game, but sometime in my 20s I think I finally made the full move, taking my child hood off and putting on my adult hood. I can look back and see clearly this lack of mentors. I remember as a youth minister in Houston, sitting in the shade at Astroworld between rides with a student that I was mentoring and pouring into, sharing about and eventually tearing up at my own lack of mentors pouring into me.

But looking back, I can also see clearly how God fathered me through all this, filling the gaps in my life with multitudes of unfinished men and women, all with different pieces of the puzzle, offered to me by God without most of them even knowing it.

But now I’m eager and hungry to fully and definitely, even if fearfully, lay down my adult hood and pick up the hood of an elder.

I mean nothing magnificent or honor-bringing about this. As a matter of fact, by all the worlds standards, this seems to be a “step down” in the social and institutional hierarchy of who we deem important these days. Less (but more powerfully) seen, fewer (but more intimate) relationships, smaller (but more impactful) work.

I want to move into a reality where I know the peaceful depths of what Jesus called the Gospel, living within what Jesus called the Kingdom of God, and proclaim it all to those who invite me into their lives as the Truth that will set them free.

Would it not be great if you were as surrounded by these interested and wise “elders” as you are by older people? Wouldn’t it be neat if, whenever you see anyone older than you, could could assume that they are more mature than you in every human way? Would it not be cool to have these kinds of sage-like “elders” to choose between for President and other offices?

I think that this “elderhood” is such a lost art, and goes so unacknowledged by our culture, that those few among us who find themselves in it don’t even know that they are. And don’t know how to enjoy it, let alone share it with others.

We need childhood. And we need adulthood. But, God please, bring to us elderhood.

Christ vs. Church, Discipleship, My Life, The Best Life

8 Comments to “Moving in to Elderhood”

  1. The apostle Paul writes about elders. He figures there are some available in most communities of faith, and he urges that the community recognize and honor and learn from the elders.

  2. Great thoughts Brian! May God bless you as you begin to embrace and wear a new hood.

  3. Very good, Brian. Very thoughtful and insightful. A mirror into your spirit. What blessings every day keep pouring forth into and out of your heart and spirit. I am thankful.

    Love you, Son.

  4. An intriguing insight Brian. Your thoughts mirror what I have been thinking, that we stress over “qualifications” and labels, and even perceptions. Elderhood does, or at least should, provide for deeper contemplation of Life, and speaks of roles and mentors rather than status or title. The challenge comes to be accessible to those seeking sage wisdom without being overbearing and full of pride. The challenge from the younger is to seek whatever wisdom God has bestowed and to know that even those in elderhood can also learn from and be sharpened by those still on that journey.

  5. Well done Bian. Your wisdom is beyond your age. Keep on keeping on your desire to influence us to be more Christ like. We miss your words of wisdom. LL

  6. […] & spiritual maturity: Moving in to Elderhood by Brian […]

  7. At some point, a few years ago, I realized I am an adult. I think it may have been around the time that I began babysitting for you and I realized I could be trusted with someone else’s children (which was terrifying to me then because I was so nervous I would get in a wreck or something horrible would happen). Looking back, I’m so glad I never did have anything bad happen because it was so validating of my adulthood and now I see how insecure I was in that time and stage. Now, I realize how much you validated me as an adult and mentored me while I was a child. Thank you for helping me to grow from my first “hood” to my current “hood” and hopefully we will all be around to see me breach the final “hood” (if there isn’t another beyond elderhood). I truly appreciate your mentoring through so many years of my life. Your family has had so much value to me and the many callings on my life.

  8. Very good Brian, a lot of insight, and deep understanding, maybe if we learn to conquer “time”, and the art of listening, we can mentor more.

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