Why the Older Grow Wiser? For the Younger!
by Walker Moore
founder, president of AweStar Ministries
Walker Moore has for decades trained and led thousands of teens on international missions trips, thus changing their lives as disciples and changing the eternities for others who became disciples as a result.
Walker is gifted by God in preaching and leadership. Having spoken at state Baptist conventions, local associations, major churches and missions conferences across the SBC, he remains an influential voice for missions among pastors, church staff and members, and teens.
To book Walker as a speaker in your church or conference, click HERE.
Sometimes I feel like I’ve been working with young people way too long. These days, I find myself in an unusual position. When I hang out with people my age, I hear them talking about retirement plans, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, moving to a warmer climate and meeting at various homes for something called “Bunko.” I’m not sure what that is, but if it has to be done outside of the church, I suspect money, dice or playing cards must be involved.
If the conversation doesn’t move toward why Miley Cyrus is going bonkers, or why twerking breaks all 10 commandments, then I don’t seem to fit in. While my peers are talking about Medicare, Medicaid and medication, I’m engaged in conversations about skinny jeans, photo bombing and the legalization of marijuana.
It seems the older I get, the greater the impact I can make on this generation. For one thing, I’ve earned the right to be the old man. Many of these students don’t have a full set of parents, let alone a grandparent. And even if they do, most teens feel their family members aren’t interested in listening or trying to understand their perspectives.
One of this generation’s greatest needs is more senior adults who will walk alongside them, listen to them and remind them of their worth. Yes, we send missionaries to different countries; but what we lack is a mission agency that sends senior adults to the youth department.
When I was youth pastor at First Baptist Church of Tulsa, I saw the need for these cross-generational relationships. Our young people need to hang out with the saints of old. Grandma or Grandpa, you may not know how to tweet, Facebook, hashtag or play video games, but you have the grace, kindness, compassion and wisdom this generation desperately needs.
Once a year, I would send our youth to visit with our senior adults. I gave the students a list of questions to ask, including, “What attracted you to your mate?” One group posed this question to a couple that had been married for 49 years. The husband answered, “Her ankles.” When the students burst out laughing, he explained that back in the day, the girls wore long skirts. Because of the conservative dress, all he could see of her body were what he called her “sexy ankles.”
The elderly couple told story after story about their lives, and the students were enthralled. Their planned 30-minute visit lasted almost three hours.
When the teens returned, I asked them about their visit with this particular couple. “They rocked,” came the answer. In my world, that’s a good thing.
Later, I asked the same senior adult couple how it went with the young people. “If those students ever need anything, let us know,” they said.
Today’s students, who live in such a fast-paced, transitional world, need to have a relationship with someone who has been tempered by time, tried by fire and honed by the Creator. Inside those sometimes frail and feeble bodies resides the Rock of Gibraltar. These seniors walk with an unflappable faith and a wisdom that comes from years of studying God’s Word. This generation of senior adults has seen it all, from horse-drawn carriages to outhouses, from landing on the moon to mastering a smart phone.
One year — while all the other youth pastors were looking for the latest and hottest young evangelist since Jaun the Baptist — I asked a man nearing 80 years old to be our camp pastor. Small in stature, Dr. Chester E. Swor walked with a limp – the result of a baseball hitting him in the hip when he was young.
Sitting in a chair and leaning his frail body forward, Dr. Swor began to speak. Our students had never seen anyone like him. He wasn’t wearing the latest designer fashions. He didn’t have on neon orange tennis shoes, put his cap on backwards or walk with a gangster limp. But with generations of experience, he poured into the lives of these young believers. Like the cry of the fiercest lion, the truth came roaring out of him, and lives were changed.
Just a few years later, this beloved saint went home to be with the Lord. And to this day, my students tell me he was one of the most influential speakers we ever had.
I thank God for people like Chester Swor. Because of people like him, I realize that even in my older years, I can have an impact on another generation. That’s got to be better than Bunko—no matter what it is.