"Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding" (Job 12:12)? "Gray hair is a
crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life" (Psalm 16:31).
The influence of older men in the Bible is obvious. How about women? Naomi, a near-ancestress of Jesus, is an
example of an older woman and her influence over her daughters-in-law, especially Ruth. Had it not been for her wise
guidance of the young lady, Ruth might not have attracted the attention she did from Boaz who later became her
husband (Ruth 1-4).
We think also of Anna who was still living and serving in the temple in her eighties at the time Jesus was born.
We are not sure whether Mary and Joseph looked for Anna specifically or if Anna found them. But she indeed took an
interest in that little baby who she immediately knew was destined to be the savior of the world (Luke 2:36-38).
Too, we recall Lois, grandmother of the early disciple Timothy. Paul mentioned how he remembered that sincere
faith which first lived in your grandmother and then his mother. Paul believed that such faith "now lives in you" based
on what he knew of Lois (2 Timothy 1:5).
The older Christians are really and truly needed. Perhaps some are sitting at home most of the time alone
because they no longer feel needed. Their children are all grown, and perhaps they no longer have a companion.
But Jesus said, "Go into all the world." He did not say when to stop. Sure it is hard and discouraging getting out and
doing anything if one does not have transportation. But there are things the older Christians can still do.
Titus 2:3-7 explains, Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or
addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and
children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no
one will malign the word of God. Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an
example by doing what is good.
The first half of this chapter will offer suggestions on how to get older people (men and women) to "rejoin the
world." You can do this whether you are young or older. Then we will discuss what older ladies can do for their
special service. You probably know some who are sitting home right now doing nothing much more than being lonely
and getting out of touch with the world. Try to get them out of themselves.
Call them and see if there is anything in town that you could pick up for them. Encourage them to call you when
they need to go to the doctor or the drug store or grocery store. If they send out for everything and stay indoors all
the time, make regular visits to see them for awhile and get them started talking about themselves. Talk about their
family, look at their photos, talk about the places they've lived, and things they've done.
If they live close enough, ask them if one of the children (yours?) can come over and see them sometimes after
school. Or bring the children over to meet them. Most older people can tell a story of "the old days" and fascinate
children. If they play checkers or dominoes, this is a good game for you or the children either to play with them.
Next, try to get them out of their house, which is the second step in getting them out of themselves and into
others. Older people find it easier and easier to just stay home. There are actually some people who eventually have
not stepped out of their own houses for literally years. If it is sunny but cold, ask them if they would please go with you
in the car to have a cup of coffee and a donut at a nearby cafe because you don't like to go out alone. If it is sunny
and warm, ask them to walk with you down the street to get an ice cream cone or something. If they decline, ask them
if they would do it just once for you.
Then hopefully the next time the occasion arises, they will remember how enjoyable it was for them, and do it for
themselves (and indirectly for you). If they cannot walk, help them into their wheel chair and go out on the lawn or
porch to sit. If they don't have a wheel chair, try to get one for them. The March of Dimes is one possible source for a
If they have not been going to worship services, tell them you will pick them up every Sunday, and it will brighten
your day to do so. Tell them you feel guilty going to worship with a half-empty car. If they are not too tired after
services, invite them to eat with you in your home. Or perhaps invite them some other day of the week for lunch or an
It seems that among older people there is a stronger desire to maintain self-respect and dignity, perhaps
because they know with their age they may not be able to do for themselves much longer. Therefore, older people
seem to want to pay for having things done for them. If this arises, here are some suggestions.
If you learn they can bake a special kind of bread, hint sometime how much you love homemade bread. Or if
they make woodworking items, tell them you need some of those things sometimes and would like to buy them from
them from time to time. If they have a rock or stamp or some other kind of collection, ask if your child or you can come
see it sometime and get some advice. They probably will not allow you to buy anything from them, but instead surprise
you with a little gift, a little labor of love. Accept it graciously. Never deny them the privilege of giving. Enjoy it. And
they'll feel blessed.
Now you are ready for the big step, that of getting that person to want to serve others. Try to get this person to
go with you to visit another older person in town. Choose someone who will be enjoyable to visit. When you arrive,
don't do all the talking. Kind of moderate and keep them talking to each other with comments about, "Tell Mrs. Smith
about such-and-such," especially if it is some place, event, or thing with which Mrs. Smith is familiar. This visit will then
provide a possible friendship with another older person who has continued to be active and would be a good
Try, if possible, to get your friend to come with you to Bible classes. Tell them how the younger ones would
appreciate their sharing their experiences, wisdom and knowledge. If they will go with you just once, maybe they will
want to return. If they don't have a Bible with large print, try to get one for them, or perhaps some non-prescription
glasses from a variety or drug store that magnify print. Make sure they are able to sit by sufficient light to see and in a
chair that is easy to sit down in and get out of and is soft.
Now to address the older Christians directly. There are so many things you are needed for. Perhaps when you
were younger you felt you were too busy raising your children, going to jobs, etc. and never really got involved in
active church work ~ Christian works. Okay, that was yesterday. Remember the phrase we often run in to now,
"Today is the first day of the rest of your life." First indicates a beginning. We could change this a little to read,
"Today is the beginning of the rest of your life," or "Today is the first day of your new Christian life."
Perhaps you used to try to do Christian works when younger, but for some reason were criticized or ran into
some kind of trouble and got discourage and finally gave up. This happens to everyone who works at some time or
another. But you are not the same person you were then. Times change, and other people do too. You now have
more experience in things to look for to serve your Lord through others. You are older and wiser now too.
Do not give up and say, I just can't do it any more. You ~ all of us ~ have to stick it out to the very end of our
lives. We cannot expect to work for the Master the first ten hours and then walk off the job and not be there for pay
the twelfth hour. The hour of your reward is at hand. Don't lose it now. There is something you can do. Wouldn't it
be wonderful for you to leave this world while doing some Christian work? What a welcomed sight God would be.
Then you will be home for good. Then, and only then, will you be able to rest.
One of the last messages to Christians in the Bible is this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now
on. "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them" (Revelation 14:13). Do not
say there is nothing you can do, for there is something if you search for it. Remember, I can do everything through
him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13).
One thing that does not require a whole lot of physical effort is using pen and paper. By now you have read the
chapter full of suggestions on letter writing and how you can do your Christian works through the mail. This alone
could keep you busy full time. However, if you have arthritis and cannot use a typewriter or computer, you can use the
telephone. Just refer to the chapter on that.
When you go to worship, are there men or women there without spouses who have more than one child with
them? This can be such a burden. Help one of them by inviting one or two of their older children to sit with you. This
will help her keep away the temptation just to give up and quit. They will rise up and call you blessed time and again.
Something else you can do in a special way with your years of experience is to befriend someone in your
congregation who attends services alone. If you are not presently aware of such a one, look around your
congregation. You can bet that person either has no family or has family that is not Christian. Either way, they are
fighting a hard battle alone.
They need help, for they are not receiving encouragement at home. If they cannot get family members to come
to services, perhaps you can help by inviting them as an outsider. Often times a family member can get nowhere while
an outsider can. Perhaps the teenage children dropped out. Have you ever had a similar experience? Have you ever
known anyone who did? How did they handle it? Was it right or wrong? Did the children eventually come back?
What influenced this?
Do you see how important your years of experience are? You have insight into and wisdom about things that
young or middle-aged people may not have gained yet. Do not waste what you've learned through the years. Do not
throw it down the drain. Pass it on.
Are there any fatherless or motherless children that you know of? (This includes absence of a parent by death
or divorce or military service.) Do they have grandparents nearby? If not, why not become a grandparent to them? If
they are young, perhaps they would like to watch cartoons with you on television. Perhaps you could read stories with
them or sing with them or take walks with them or play games. Children love all these things. Doing them makes us
feel youthful too.
If the children you have in mind are teenagers, provide someone for them to confide in. You probably will not
have to discipline them, for they have that at home. But do guide them. If they do not like certain home rules, ask
them what rules they would like to have. Perhaps they'll think of some that make as much or more sense; or perhaps
after they've thought about it, they'll decide the old ones are the best after all. Do habits their parents have annoy
them? Help them understand that their parents are human with feelings and needs too. Do they do things that annoy
their parents? Help them think of alternatives.
Do any of these youngsters know how to cook? Boys and girls both like to create by cooking. Show them how to
bake cookies in your kitchen. Or do they know anything about repairing a broken chair? Let them help you. How
about gardening? Do they know anything about it? Let them have a small garden plot and plant their own garden and
care for it. Often such things are left untaught. You have both the time and the knowledge. Use these things. Pass
them on. Help them learn to create. Help them see how well they can do things.
After a few weeks or months with your newly acquired "grandchildren," don't be surprised if you get a phone from
their relatives or guardians thanking you and telling you how school grades have improved and there aren't as many
school-ground fights any more. And they'll probably tell you how their kids talk about you all the time.
Are there several children in your neighborhood? Sit out on your porch or lawn one day with a little plate of
cookies or a liter of coke. Invite the first one you see to come have one or two cookies. Then tell them to go get their
friends. After they've had their cookies, ask them if they'd ever heard about the boy who upset a spy ring (Paul's
nephew, Acts 23:16-22), or the boy who fed 5,000 people with his little lunch (Matthew 14:16-21), or the slave girl who
saved her master's life (2 Kings 5:1-23).
Once you have got their curiosity up, tell them to sit on the porch or lawn, and you'll tell them about it. You can
show them your Bible and tell them it is found in there. Then you can proceed to tell the story from memory, and end
up reading the last few verses of the story directly from the Bible.
Make it sound very mysterious at first, and keep them guessing by the tone in your voice. Then, as the story
progresses, get all excited with them about what's going to happen next. Let your eyes sparkle. Smile broadly.
Then at the end of the story, find some way to apply it to their lives. For instance, you could say, "You can help
grownups get well too by making them get well cards or stopping by a minute to see them," or "You can help Jesus
feed people today by giving food to people in need," or "You can upset Satan's spy ring that goes around trying to get
you and your friends to be bad by going to Bible classes and learning how to be good. "
Try not to make the story last more than around ten minutes, as children's attention spans are not long,
especially while sitting still outdoors. Ask them if they'd like to come back tomorrow after school for some more cookies
and another story. If they do come back, you have begun your very own personal Vacation Bible School ~ or actually
After-School Bible School.
If they continue visiting with you, they probably will want to go to Bible study with you too, if their parents allow
them to. They will do the asking. Then you can contact someone in your congregation for help with transportation if
you cannot provide it.
Do you know people who are sick? Send them cards and phone them. If you can go see them, all the better.
Being older, you probably had the same problem at some time or know someone who has and will be able to
understand what they are going through better than younger people. Tell them you understand and remember what it
was like. Of course, if you know someone who died of it, you do not have to bring that up. You are there to cheer
them up, not depress them. Take them some flowers if you have a little garden, or a magazine, or some little thing you
made if you like. Remember, every time you visit one of these who is sick (by phone or letter or in person), you are
doing it to Jesus (Matthew 25).
If you know of anyone with a terminal illness, go see them or write to them. In this case, do try to get a ride to
see them; for you, being closer to the end of your earthly life than most younger people, will understand things they
are going through better. You can talk to them about how wonderful heaven will be. You can pray with them. You can
give them courage. You can reassure them that God will be with them all the way.
Do you have any friends who are not getting out of their homes and out of themselves? Call them. Go see
them if you can. Invite them to your house. Share with them of your new Christian experiences, and tell them how
happy you are. Try to show them that this is the key to their happiness too. If you get your friends doing these things,
that is a form of multiplying yourself, so you can be truly in a dozen places at once working through those you
encourage and teach.
Yes, as years are added to each Christian lady, she by nature becomes wiser and more sensitive to the needs
of others. And that includes you, dear Christian lady. Because you are special!
Seniors in Service