I expect no sympathy because I never get any when I mention this ... but I’m growing older. Officially, daily, unceremoniously, and shockingly – at least to me, I’m getting older. Just before Thanksgiving, I proudly celebrated my 64th birthday. People are kind to tell me that I’m looking “great” and even some tell me that I look better than I have in years. I really appreciate their kindness and I hope, honesty. But I wonder if I just might not have looked that “great” when I was younger.
I’m now among the older pastors at the meetings I attend. I remember when I was younger, looking at the pastors who were then my age now, and thinking, “What are they doing here?”. I’m paying much closer attention the retirement investments and my annuity. I now “qualify” for even more “Senior Discounts” ... and I have NO SHAME asking for those discounts. I’m regularly receiving information in the mail about Medicare supplements. When I get a haircut, I also have to be “groomed” aka, “trimming the hair growing out of my ears”. My knees “pop” when I get out of bed in the mornings. When we see one another, my friends and I have discussions about when we think we might retire. I can still “go”, but I can’t “go” as fast, as hard, or as long as I once did. I’m coming to grips with reality: I’m getting older.
As I grow older, I’m reminded of some of those “Senior Saints” whom I’ve pastored through these past 38 years. Some of them aged well. Others did not. Some had an incredibly sweet spirit and were excited to continue serving Jesus. Others grew bitter and complaining and expected everyone else to serve them.
Personally, I have determined that I will choose daily to grow older with grace and gratitude. I want to be gracious, kind, friendly, and gracious to the people whom The Lord brings into my life each day. I want to practice a thankful and grateful spirit to those who bless me and be forgiving and Christlike to those who are critical.
I am determined to encourage and support the younger generation. I want to be like Paul, who poured his encouragement and life into his “son in the ministry”, Timothy. I love the younger adults and teenagers in our church. We have many exceptional young men and women in our schools and community. We have so many fantastic young parents who are now trying to “figure out” this parenting thing ... just as I once did. And I want to be supportive and encouraging to those whose life journey is just now getting “exciting”. And when I’m given the opportunity, I want to invest my experiences and faith into their lives.
In these 64 years of life and these 38 years of being a pastor, I have learned so many things! But it’s overwhelming to realize that there’s so much still to learn ... if I choose. I’m thankful for a church family who allows me to spend the mornings in my study, seeking The Lord and listening to Him as He speaks to me in my spirit and through His Word. And I’m thankful that in those morning “meetings” with Him, He teaches me things that I so desperately need to know about himself and about myself.
And finally, I am determined to one day finish, “well.” Over the span of my life, God’s been so good to me. I’ve been blessed with an amazing wife, two fantastic daughters and sons-in-law, and four beautiful granddaughters. I’ve been blessed to pastor incredible churches in incredible communities, including Clinton First Baptist, Clinton, and Van Buren County. I’m blessed with more friends than I could ever count and I only hope that I’ve been as great of a friend to them as they have been to me. I’ve been to places I thought I would only dream about traveling to. I’ve even walked in the places Jesus once walked! But I’m reminded that life is a “marathon”, not a “sprint”. And I’m reminded that it’s essential to not only start “well” and run “well” ... but to finish “well”.
As I grow older, I want live in the words of Psalm 92: “The godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon ... Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green ... They will declare, ‘The LORD is just! He is my rock!”.
Faron Rogers is the senior pastor of Clinton’s First Baptist Church.