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Starting a new year, we like to talk about a fresh start, a new beginning. The reality is we are all growing older. In our nation, we spend millions of dollars trying to look and stay young. The people we tend to admire are those who may have lived many years, but they have remained young in spirit and attitude. We are saddened by those who, although young in age, have grown old in spirit. The challenge in this article is how to grow older gracefully.

Thom Rainer writes about five things he prays that he will not do as he gets older. I share these with you because we all need to pray this prayer.

1. He prays, “he will not feel entitled because he is a key financial supporter in the church.” Over the years I have observed generous “givers” nearly destroy the church or ministry they have supported because they demand control. I would remind you that the money we have given has been loaned to us from the Lord. We gave it in obedience and should not demand that everything the church or ministry does must be according to our wishes.
2. He prays, “he will not say, “ ‘I’ve done my time.’ ”
As you age, your roles and responsibilities in the church might change. However, we should stay active and continue to experience that joy that comes from serving the Lord. One might retire from their career, but we never retire from the Lord’s service.
3. He prayed, “he would not be more enthused about recreational trips than ministry.”
There is nothing wrong with bus trips and cruises. But they should not be your primary involvement in the church. You need to stay connected both for your sake and the sake of the church. Your wisdom, maturity and prayers are vital.
4. He prayed, “he would not be more concerned about his preferences than serving others.”
We live in a time when church music and worship styles have changed dramatically. Instead of getting sour and critical, learn to adjust. You will have greater influence and opportunity to serve the Lord. I am still amazed how many people will leave a holiness church and go to a church that teaches a different doctrine simply because they don’t like the style of worship.
5. He prayed, “he would not have a critical spirit.”
It seems as some people age, they develop a critical spirit that never stops. Don’t get old and cranky spewing out doom and gloom. If you do, you will become more of a hindrance than a help to the work of the church.

It isn’t a tragedy to grow old physically. In fact it is very normal. It should be our prayer that as we age we will maintain Godly attitudes. The greatest achievements of our lives need not be limited to our younger years.

The great Winston Churchill would have been a failure if he had died before he was 65. Michelangelo was still producing masterpieces at 89.

The best way to age gracefully is to commit to never retire from the Christian life of service. We are all growing older, but it’s important that we “finish well.”
Judas started well and walked with the Lord for over three years. Yet his ending was disastrous and tragic.
The Apostle Paul started off persecuting the Christians. However, he committed his life to Christ and finished strong, saying, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” He ended his life well.

May God help each of us to stay young in spirit and to finish well. We can anticipate the Lord saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

With the aging process comes the reality of grief and loss. Many times those left behind at the end of a loved one’s life are the ones that struggle the most. Grief is real and for many it takes extra effort and support from friends, family, and the church to overcome the sadness and depression associated with the separation of death. Mrs. Betty Libby offers a grief counseling ministry that I would like to recommend to you. Betty is available to speak or conduct grief recovery seminars at your church. You may contact her at her home phone (740)418-8177 or her cell number (740)418-8177. Also her contact information will be available on our denominational website on the evangelist slate page.