Download our HFNY Resource Card as a way to engage homeless and hungry neighbors.
Read Tim Keller's outline of "Wholistic Ministry" and the Biblical call of the church to minister in both word and deeds of mercy and justice.
Watch our workshop on "How to Care for our Homeless Neighbors," outlining practical ways to serve our homeless neighbors and connect them to resources.
Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road
Dr. Tim Keller
|Generous Justice: How God's Grace Makes Us Just
Dr. Tim Keller
|When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty without Hurting the Poor... and Yourself
To Live in Peace: Biblical Faith and the Changing Inner City
Mark R. Gornik
BY JAMES LEONARD
But the godly will flourish like palm trees
and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon.
For they are transplanted to the LORD’s own house.
They flourish in the courts of our God.
Even in old age they will still produce fruit;
they will remain vital and green.
Recently, I was in a meeting with the elders of my church when one of them noted that I was on the “back nine” of my career. I’ve always considered myself to be a “young” pastor, so envisioning myself on the “back nine” was shocking. There’s something about being young. It’s comforting to think that we have plenty of time to learn, grow, and course correct, if necessary, as we work toward accomplishing great things for God. But if we’re on the back nine, maybe we don’t have the luxury of time. Could it be that our best days have come and gone?
Many cultures seem to value young people more than the elderly. In the workplace, for example, mandatory retirement policies restrict the number of years an employee is considered useful, but is this true when it comes to serving the Lord?
Thankfully, Psalm 92:12-14 seems to suggest that our best days are still ahead of us. The psalmist wrote, “For they are transplanted to the LORD’s own house . . . Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green.”
For Moses, life really began at 80, and God used him to deliver the Jews out of captivity in Egypt. “ There has never been another prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face” (Deut. 34:10). And Joshua, who succeeded him, also did his best work as an older man when he was leading God's people to conquer the land (Joshua 1:9).
We should never feel unproductive or useless as we grow older, nor should we underestimate our intrinsic value. Instead, we should become stronger and more effective in our faith. Just as the fall season of the year is a time of abundant fruitfulness, so, too, as we age, we should be able to say, “Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day” (2 Cor. 4:16).
The body may break down, but the spirit is still capable of growth, renewal, and even new birth in old age. While most American churches focus on reaching the next generation, these same churches are often neglecting the fastest-growing sector of society—the elderly.
While we certainly need youth ministry, we need to be equally passionate about meeting the needs of the elderly. The Bible teaches that God has given each of us special abilities that we are to use to help each other (1 Peter 4:10). When we allow the Holy Spirit to enlighten the eyes of our own heart to know the hope to which He has called us, not only will we be encouraged personally, but we will also be better equipped to encourage those of all ages.
* * *
James Leonard is the Associate Pastor at Trinity Baptist Church in Manhattan. After graduating from Central Washington University in 1997, James moved to New York where he attended Alliance Theological Seminary. During this time, James worked as the Volunteer Manager for Hope for New York. He also worked for Redeemer Presbyterian Church as Associate Director of Church Life. In March of 2003, James became the Associate Pastor at Trinity Baptist Church. In 2013, he received a doctorate of ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary with a focus on Spiritual Formation. James and his wife Elizabeth have one daughter, Iva Joy.