When You Begin to Feel Old and Irrelevant

Every so often, the strange thought overcomes me that I’m too old and irrelevant to work with college students. This semester, I know I’m not imagining things. I grow older; they seem younger. I’ve already heard a few “OK, Boomer” comments (and I patiently remind them I’m actually Generation X, but that’s beside the point). I also sense a distrust and a cynicism I’ve never before experienced with younger students until this semester. I understand. I’ve heard comments that younger students blame the older generation for everything from climate change to institutional racism. With every problem they experience, they blame their elders. Perhaps they blame me. And I do understand this. So I feel this weight when I enter a college classroom.

But a few things held me tight this morning as I prayed about it. If I’m still here–and if you’re still here (in your 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and beyond)–it’s because there’s still fruit to bear. God still has good works prepared in advance for you to do (Ephesians 2:10). So press on! Press on to love others and pass on what you know. Press on to advance mercy and blessing in every community in which you find yourself. Stand firm and endure the anger and cynicism. I picture myself pressing forward with a patient, listening heart. I press on.

And remember Psalm 92:12-13 and this beautiful promise:

12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
    they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
13 planted in the house of the Lord,
    they will flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They will still bear fruit in old age,
    they will stay fresh and green,
15 proclaiming, “The Lord is upright;
    he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.

In our “older age” we proclaim about the Lord. Consider the cry of the psalmist in Psalm 71: “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.” In fact, if you read about aging in the Psalms, you’ll learn the primary role of elders: to tell the next generation about the Lord.

So if you’re reading this and you have begun to feel old and irrelevant, remember the truth: you’re here because God still has plans for you to love and bless others and to complete the good works He’s designed for you to do.

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