In a recent post, I shared several concerns and hopes for young preachers. Here I would like to continue the theme with some thoughts regarding older preachers.
I get concerned when older preachers view all those with a question as “in rebellion.” It encourages me to see older preachers take time with younger preachers.
I get concerned when older preachers won’t admit the shortcomings of our generation of leadership. I get encouraged when older preachers say, “Here are some mistakes we made; try not to make them.”
I get concerned when older preachers elevate preference to the place of doctrine. I am hopeful when an older preacher says, “Nothing in the Bible says a man must wear a tie (etc.), but here is why I prefer doing it that way.” (See Romans 14.)
I get concerned when older preachers won’t admit that leaders in other circles do “anything right.” I get hopeful when an older preacher kindly disagrees with another leader or group but credits them for their efforts in some area (such as fighting abortion).
I get concerned when older preachers stake loyalty to a college or institution, even when the philosophy of that institution no longer produces passionate Christian servants. I get encouraged when older preachers follow principle and seek revival with likeminded men who may be from a different college background.
I get concerned when older preachers speak only about who they saw come to Christ decades ago. I am encouraged by older preachers who have the spirit of Caleb and are still reaching out with the Gospel.
I get concerned when older preachers preach against gossip and division in the church, but read negative and gossipy blogs and share that information with their churches and friends. I am encouraged when older pastors take the “high road” and refuse to lend their ear to non-fruit-bearing trash peddlers.
I get concerned when older preachers assume any slight variances in a church schedule or method is always indicative that a younger preacher is on a “slippery slope.” I am thankful for older preachers who allow for growth and even mistakes in the lives of developing leaders. It is worthy of noting that some of the greatest “fundamental” leaders I have known were quite innovative (“world’s largest Sunday school,” etc.). While some did not prefer such methods, most did not deem those who used these methods as “liberal.” Dr. Curtis Hutson encouraged me to use a two-service schedule on Sunday mornings, and Dr. Tom Malone encouraged me to use screens in our services; still others were critical of both. Dr. R.B. Ouellette has recently written an excellent post on this subject.
I get concerned when older preachers mellow to the point of leaving their once firmly proclaimed distinctives. I am grateful for consistent, gracious leaders who walk in truth, contend for the faith, and love the brethren.
I have had the privilege of knowing and receiving personal influence from some of the greatest leaders of the previous generation. They weren’t perfect, but their examples remind us to, regardless of our age, faithfully preach the Gospel, lovingly invest in others, and graciously live for Christ.