Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life. Proverbs 16:31
The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair. Proverbs 20:29
This year I turn 33–old enough for my children to think I’m ancient and young enough for my living heroes to think I’m still a kid. I realize that at my age a deadly temptation lurks in how I view those older than me. Here it is: those older tried their best, but I know more and see better than they did, and glory is found in boldness and courage more than humility and receptivity toward those who have gone before me. After all, new commentaries, books, exegetical studies, and research has come out in the last fifteen years, along with the iphone and facebook. Clearly youth has the edge for usefulness in the kingdom. After all, I’m not a brand new Christian, and I’m not new in ministry. I have some experience in church navigation at this point–I’ve passed through some storms, felt some weakness, endured some temptations. I’m good to go. The snare is set and baited, alluring and fatal. “You have all the wisdom that the church needs. You can improve on the church of the past while avoiding any new mistakes…”
I am not afraid to demonstrate the “glory” of youth–not afraid of showing courage and strength toward godliness and Biblical leadership. I’m not afraid to fight for the gospel and Biblical truth. I know that God has a specific purpose for me and for my generation. And I pray God grants me and my co-laboring, youthful pastors the grace to serve his church for many decades into the future. But I pray we will see and avoid, even despise, the snare.
The greatest danger to my church is my own pride. One way that pride could manifest itself is in a generational, historical direction. Here are a few ways it might express itself. Please pray that if it does, God will bring a wise, older pastor to help me.
- Do I rarely ask an older pastor for input or advice?
- Do I almost never follow the advice of an older pastor, in the rare occasion I request it?
- Do I assume that access to more Biblical resources is the same as growing in the fear of the Lord?
- Do I assume that vigor and strength are more important than endurance and humility?
- Am I more comfortable being a reformer than a learner?
- Do I forget that the next generation is watching how I talk about those older than me?
- Am I more passionate about new practices than I am about unchanging doctrines?
- Am I honestly more impressed by well known pastors than those that have been faithful over decades?
- Do I assume that any current health in the church was easily accomplished, and any current weaknesses easily avoided?
- Do I forget that Hebrews 11 celebrates the faithfulness of those who were clearly weak?
- Do I forget that I will need others to apply Hebrews 11 to my ministry one day?
Many young pastors today have been given incredible vision and vigor for God in our generation. I pray God will number me among them. I pray God will bring new revival to the church and will allow us to be faithful to the gospel entrusted to us. In order for that to happen, he will have to guard us from the snare of generational pride. I pray we will respect the crown of gray hair, and show honor to those who have that crown who are close to us.