No one wants to be that grumpy old person who is always complaining and who no one wants to be around. We want to age well. We want to age gracefully. Aging well is not something that just happens. It is something we must commit to, preferably at a young age. It is something we desire because we want to be helpful to our children and grandchildren. We don’t want to be a burden or an embarrassment to the people we love. We hope that when we grow old we will be known for our maturity and wisdom. We hope that we will be able to shepherd younger individuals in our churches and our communities. For this to become a reality, we need to be heading in a certain direction. We need to know what we want to become, and we need to be working on achieving these goals. Whether you are a millennial or a golden-ager, it is never too early nor too late to think about how we want to age. Here are seven keys to aging well for the old and young alike.
Be Tender Hearted
In Scripture we are warned against becoming hard-hearted and allowing our consciences to become calloused (Matt. 13:15; 1 Tim. 4:2). If we are not careful, we can become so calloused that nothing can penetrate our heart. It is possible for us to become so set in our ways that we no longer even listen to Scripture. We can become so hard hearted that God’s grace no longer touches us. God’s desire is for us to have a tender heart (1 Pet. 3:8). A hard heart does not allow anything to pierce it, but a tender heart is affectionate. It listens and seeks to understand. A tender heart is full of grace and mercy. It is kind and compassionate. If we are going to age well, then we must choose to have a tender heart like our Father above.
Some people assume that maturity comes naturally with age. This is not true. I have known immature people who have lived many years and mature people who are young adults. Maturity should increase with age, but this is not always the case. We must commit ourselves to becoming a mature person. We must become emotionally mature in our dealings with other people. Do we handle difficult situations in a grown-up way? Do we display maturity in the conversations we have with others? We must also become spiritually mature in matters of faith. Do people seek spiritual advice from us? Do we make a distinction between matters of faith and opinion? Maturity is often something we learn from experience, but we have to be working towards this goal. Maturity will not happen on its own. We must be seeking to grow into mature Christians.
One of the biggest turn-offs, whether you are old or young, is to have your generation dismissed by someone else. We tend to think highly of our own generation while looking down on other generations. We think we can do things better than our parents generation, and we think our children’s generation is completely off track. We must learn to be realistic. There are probably some things your generation does well, and there are probably some other things that it needs to work on. When another generation chooses to do things a different way this does not mean it is wrong. If we want to keep an open and healthy dialogue going with people who are of different ages, then we will learn not to dismiss their generation. We may offer helpful critiques, but we will refrain from criticizing the generation as a whole. If people can sense we are being realistic and offering sage advice, then they will listen to what we have to say.
Be a Lifelong Learner
We should never get to a point in our life where we quit learning. Learning keeps our mind fresh and active, but it also lets people know we are committed to understanding our world better. We respect teachers and educators who continue to learn. We want to sit at the feet of people who are studying and learning, not someone who thinks they know it all. We want to study the Bible with someone who refuses to stop studying. Being a lifelong learner shows maturity and wisdom. It shows that we are always willing to better ourselves by continuing to drink from the well of knowledge. As we continue to learn people will continue to seek us out for advice, and they will understand that we are mature enough to tell them that we do not know an answer, but we will find out.
Be Aware but Not Afraid of Death
We should not ignore death. We should not pretend like death will never happen. Death is a reality, but Jesus was victorious over death. People need to see that our faith conquers all. This does not mean we should be happy about death. Death is the result of sin. It was introduced after the fall, and it will be no more in the new heavens and new earth. Death is something we all face, and we need to face it as mature Christians who fully trust in Jesus Christ. Imagine the impact one generation could have on another because of the way they approach death. The early Christians had a tremendous influence on others because of how they faced martyrdom. We are not likely to face martyrdom anytime soon but death is still an agent of Satan, and it is important that we remain faithful as Satan lifts his ugly head one last time. Part of the process of aging is death, and we must be ready to faithfully face it knowing we have victory in Christ!
Be Prepared for Memory Loss
Perhaps more frightening than death is the fact that we could lose our memories. Most of us will experience some kind of memory loss. We may only forget little things, but there is always the possibility that we will forget nearly everything. How do we deal with memory loss? Most people who experience full-fledged memory loss retain little things like their favorite hymns or prayers that they have prayed for years. We need to create healthy habits of saying the Lord’s Prayer on a regular basis. We need to fill our mind with beautiful hymns that speak of God’s glory. My grandfather suffered severe memory loss, but he never lost the ability to pray. Prayer was such an essential part of his life that it never went away. What are you doing in your life to prepare for possible memory loss?
It is interesting to me that retirement is such a huge part of our culture, and yet the Bible never says one word about it. We think once we retire we are free to do whatever we want, even if that includes nothing at all. Certainly we have the right to give up our day job and accept a pension, but we are never to cease from laboring for the Lord. Part of aging well is always having something in front of us. We need a goal to reach, a challenge to face, or a hill to climb. We need to keep pressing forward until we receive our ultimate reward.
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