After reflecting on Father’s Day this past June, I could not help but notice that something more is missing. We pay tribute to mother’s on Mother’s Day, Veteran’s on Veteran’s Day, and even doughnuts have their day. But when do we honor and celebrate our elders? When do we pay tribute to those who have come before us? When do we thank those who have paved the way for us? Sadly, we don’t. At least, not enough. And it is a tragic testimony to our culture that we ignore our most valuable population and richest resource.
Scripture calls us to honor our mothers and fathers. Our parents are our first teachers and our finest elders. They teach us how to love, how to care, how to give and to forgive, how to accept, and most of all they support us tirelessly and with great dedication. Without their endless sacrifice during our early years, where would we be? Honestly, even those who are not parents have still helped to parent our generations. The old saying that it takes a village to raise children is both wise and true. Every elder deserves our utmost respect and appreciation. Honoring our elders begins with honoring our parents and those who have contributed to our upbringing.
Our culture places a great emphasis on education and rewards those who go off to college and excel academically. However, our elders possess more knowledge and wisdom than any one of us—regardless of the degrees we may hold. You can’t find a degree that includes more know-how than the years of trial and error, success and failure that our elders have experienced. By living through the storms of life our elders have been granted wisdom that we can only hope to attain—wisdom that we need, need to learn from, and wisdom that we are called upon to pass on to future generations. Our job is to simply listen and to absorb everything that they have to teach. It is our elders that we should apprentice. We should all be mentored by an elder. That would be a real education. We would be wise to seek first an elder and only afterward see what Google has to say. There is no “App” for gaining the wisdom of our elders. Our failure to listen and to learn from the wisdom of our elders demonstrates perfectly our ignorance and our arrogance.
Part of the wisdom of our elders comes from the morals, values and principles that they possess and the traditions and history that they keep. They were raised well and taught to give of themselves. They belong to a time that is much different than our own. They are of a culture that knew more of modesty and less of narcissism. One that knew to focus on the bigger picture and believed in the validity of a handshake and the importance of treating others as they themselves expected to be treated. The golden rule we learned as children, carried meaning to our parents and grandparents. They held tight to work ethic, honesty, integrity, faith, and dignity. Again, we can learn much from or elders and they deserve our care, honor and respect.
We don’t necessarily need a “day” to honor our elders–we just need the heart and the habit of doing so—something that has somehow been forgotten in the hustle and bustle of our technology-driven, youth-centered society. Everyday can be Elder Day if we set our heart and mind in the right direction.
How does God view the elderly?
Proverbs 16:31 — “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life” (NLT).
Worthy of honor :
Exodus 20:12 — “Honor your father and your mother.”
Leviticus 19:32 — “Thou shalt rise up [in respect] before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man.”
Job 32:4-6 — “Elihu had waited till Job [and the others] had spoken, because they were elder than he.”
Proverbs 23:22 — “Hearken unto thy father…and despise not (respect) thy mother when she is old.”
A source of wisdom:
Titus 1:9 — “Elders are to teach sound doctrine to others.”
Titus 2:3 — Older women are to teach what is good, be mentors for young women; many prophets were old men/women, still actively declaring God’s word.
2 Timothy 1:5 — Lois diligently taught Timothy.
1 Timothy 5:5-10 — Prayer, a special ministry for women over 60.
Titus 1:9 — Elders are to teach sound doctrine to others.
Job 12:12 — “With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding.”
Job 32:7 — “Days should speak, and multitude of years…teaches wisdom.”
1 Kings12:1-16 — King Rehoboam’s folly in not following the wise advice of the old men.