The Value of Age and Experience: Embracing the Gift of Gray Hair

Tim AllchinFor Those Seeking HopeLeave a Comment

I remember hearing my grandparents talk about the “Great Depression” and how their family survived through the fear of hunger, sickness, and homelessness. This hardship shaped a generation in similar ways that other traumatic events like World War 2, Vietnam, and 9/11 have. Perhaps the pandemic of 2020 will shape this generation as well. 

In Proverbs, Solomon speaks with experience about the hardships of life and how we grow in perspective as we grow older. He often contrasts the energy of youth with the wisdom formed over time. He challenges his sons to seek the perspective of wisdom that his lifetime of experience had afforded him as he learned wisdom from God through both his successes and failures.

The gray hair of most churches is an under-valued asset and under-utilized treasure that needs to be developed for the good of your church. This article lays out why your church should equip and utilize those with gray hair to provide greater care, counsel, and wisdom to those in need.

Gray Hair Brings Perspective

Proverbs 20:29 – The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.

What is the point of this verse? Young people have more strength, but old people have greater perspective and wisdom.   

How does your church utilize those with gray hair? They are a gift from God, but they are often underutilized. In developing counseling ministries in local churches, we encourage as much gray hair as possible to get involved in our training programs. In fact, we recently had a 96-year-old woman taking training with us, a retired teacher who still had so much to learn! 

Perspective is shaped as one goes through the trials and joys of life. We learn by our successes and sadly by our failures as well. The advantage of old age is that experience accompanies longevity. When people come for counseling, they are often seeking a wise perspective on their struggles, a new path forward that promises better results. 

Those with gray hair have been given the opportunity to see how various choices play themselves out over time. A wise perspective improves the possibility that someone will believe and follow wise counsel. 

Gray Hair Brings Credibility

Proverbs 16:31 – Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life. (ESV)

Who is better equipped to help hurting marriages? A young psychologist fresh out of grad school, or a mentor couple married for 40+ years? It’s kind of hard to answer, isn’t it? While you might need to know more about their training or the relational health of the married couple, 40 years of marriage provides a certain level of credibility because we all know that many marriages don’t last. 

While we value the strength and energy of younger generations in the church, we have to leverage the credibility that the stories of a lifetime of perseverance can bring to those seeking help and hope. Gray hair, on the head of someone who has navigated life’s challenges well, brings that credibility. 

Gray Hair Brings Stability

Read what the Psalmist writes about those who have lived their lives in a way that honors God. Psalm 92:14–15 – They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the LORD is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

They are compared to a healthy tree, still producing fruit, still pointing people to the upright “Rock” who can be trusted. As younger generations are discipled by Instagram and TikTok, their world only becomes more unstable, less productive, and more susceptible to harm. 

The answer is not to retreat from the world but to link arms with those who are stable. Gray hair brings about stability through deep roots developed as older generations have found that God is faithful, upright, and righteous.  Younger generations often doubt God’s faithfulness, embrace skepticism about almost everything, and are bombarded with competing worldviews on a daily basis. 

Equipping Good Gray-Haired Counselors

One of the struggles in hiring young counselors to BCC is that they often struggle to gain traction in the beginning because they don’t feel comfortable with some cases, and older people often want someone with more experience. However, if I hire an older counselor, they don’t face this same hurdle. Their gray hair brings a level of comfort, even on their first day as a counselor. 

We keep this in mind as we help churches develop care teams. While we want a variety of age groups, we encourage as much gray hair to join our training as possible. While they may have handed off ministry leadership to younger generations, they can often be used in one-on-one counseling situations very effectively. 

Conclusion

How does your church equip the older generations for ministry in this new world?  Biblical counseling is really about speaking the truth in love over time. It’s about sharing perspective, modeling credibility, bringing stability to those in need of help and hope. It’s about passing a strong faith from generation to generation.

As your church thinks about the path ahead, would you consider the impact that the gray-haired people God has blessed your church with could have on your church and community? Equip them to share, to make disciples, and to provide compassionate care. 

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