Young believers can have a tendency to not seek out older ones for advice, counsel, wisdom and general assistance. But it should not be this way. In Proverbs we read words like this:-
- Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. (Prov. 4:1)
- Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many. (Prov. 4:10).
Implicit in both of these statements is the truth that older ones generally have experience of life and experience of God. Through this they have developed wisdom. This is particularly so for those with “grey hairs”. These sit there in our churches and are reservoirs of assistance for all and in particular to younger ones. So why do younger ones so often just ignore older believers?
- PRIDE. There is the pride of youth. Younger ones think that they have sufficient knowledge to handle life. Such pride is dangerous. Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall (Prov. 16:18) is what the Word of God says.
- NO RESPECT. Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord is the command in Leviticus 19:32. Old people are not respected as they should be in our society and in our churches. As a result they are so often ignored.
- OUT-OF-DATE. Old people are seen as out-of-touch with the modern world and modern ways. The spirit of those youngsters who dismissed Elisha prevails. We read of them: From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. ‘Get out of here, baldy!’ they said. ‘Get out of here, baldy!’ (2 Kings 2:23).
However, we do have to say that the problem is not just one-sided. There are ways in which the older saints can deter the younger ones from coming to them.
- CARE. Older believers do not take an interest in younger ones. Scripture shows examples of older ones mentoring younger ones. Moses and Joshua and Paul with Timothy would be examples. When younger ones feel that the older ones are not interested in them they will not seek their counsel.
- DISMISSIVE. Older ones can be dismissive of younger ones, perceiving that they will not be able to contribute much to the kingdom of God. Eli, for example, seems to have been somewhat dismissive of what Samuel was experiencing. we read in 1 Samuel 3:4-5 Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, ‘Here I am.’And he ran to Eli and said, ‘Here I am; you called me.’ But Eli said, ‘I did not call; go back and lie down.’ So he went and lay down. If young believers are treated n a dismissive way by older believers they are not inclined to respect those older ones.
Finally, I observe that there is often not enough done in the church to cultivate oneness among the people of God. When old and young are regularly sharing their lives then there will be more of a tendency for the younger ones to seek help from older ones.
So both young and old need to work at making sure that we are drawing together for mutual benefit. This will mitigate against there being divisions among us.