1196) On Not Becoming a Cranky Old Church Member

“Five Things I Pray I Will Not Do as a Senior Adult in the Church”

by Thom Rainer, July 18, 2016 at:  www.ThomRanier.com

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     I received my first AARP material in the mail six years ago.  I turned 61 years old two days ago.  I am a senior adult.
     Have I noticed any differences in my life at this age?  Certainly.  I move more slowly.  My idea of a mini-marathon is running to the kitchen from the family room.  I see things differently.  I don’t know if I am wiser, but I certainly have different perspectives.
     And I have to admit I view church life differently.  In fact, I sometimes scare myself with my rigid attitude.
     I have five specific prayers.  They are for me.  They are for my attitude about my church.  They are reminders I will need to review constantly.
#1)  I pray I will not feel entitled because I am a key financial supporter in the church.  This attitude means I consider the money my money rather than God’s money.  That means I am giving with a begrudging heart.
#2)  I pray I will not say “I’ve done my time” in the church.  Ministry through the local church is not doing your time, like serving a prison sentence.  It is an outpouring of joy and thanksgiving to God.  I love those churches where senior adults are the most represented among the nursery workers.  I need to be among them.
#3)  I pray I will not be more enthused about recreational trips than ministry and service.  There is nothing wrong about me getting on a bus and going to Branson, Missouri, or Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  But there is something wrong when that is my dominant involvement in ministry in the church.
#4)  I pray I will not be more concerned about my preferences than serving others.  I’ve already blown it on this one.  I did not like the volume of the music in the service at my church a few weeks ago.  I complained about it to my wife.  And then I was reminded of all the young people in the church that Sunday worshiping and praising God during the music.  I was more concerned about my preference than seeing others worship God.
#5)  I pray I will not have a critical spirit.  I attended a business meeting of a large church some time ago.  The total attendance at the meeting represented fewer than five percent of the worship attendance.  One of the men who recognized me approached me before the meeting, “We come together at these business meetings to keep the pastor straight,” he told me.  In reality, they came together to criticize the pastor and staff.  I pray I will not become a perpetual critic.  I don’t want to grow old and cranky; I want to grow old and more sanctified.
     Now that I am a senior adult in my own right, I need to make certain I am not a stumbling block or a hindrance to health and growth in my church.  May the Lord grant me wisdom and service all the days of my life, including my senior years.
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Psalm 71:17-18  —  Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.  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.
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Ephesians 4:29  —  Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
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I Thessalonians 5:10-13  —  He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.  Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.  Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you.  Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work.  Live in peace with each other.
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O Lord, without whom our labor is lost, and with whom thy little ones go forth as the mighty; be present in all the works in thy church which are undertaken according to thy will (especially…); and grant to thy workers a pure intention, patient faith, sufficient success upon earth, and the bliss of serving thee in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.
–William Bright  (1824-1901)
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O God, deliver us from all sloth in thy work and all coldness in thy cause; and grant us, by looking unto thee, to rekindle our love, and by waiting upon thee, to renew our strength; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.
–Lutheran Service Book and Hymnal, Augsburg Publishing House, 1958.