The number 52 took on new meaning for me a few days ago.
I was aware there are 52 cards in a deck and 52 weeks in a year. As of this past Sunday, there are 52 years in my life. I’m getting old.
Growing older has its drawbacks. We’ve seen them first hand as our parents have confronted things like Alzheimer’s, injuries, and debilitating diseases. But I’m certain that God intends us to think of getting older in a positive way. Or else why would he say things like this:
“Gray hair is a crown of glory;
it is gained in a righteous life”
“The glory of young men is their strength,
but the splendor of old men is their gray hair”
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16.)
Glory? Splendor? Being renewed? I have to confess that each time I notice some new pain that seems to hang on for weeks, those aren’t the words that first come to mind. What does come to mind is walkers, wheel chairs, and nursing homes.
Okay, maybe I’m overstating it. But a few years ago I had a conversation with a worship pastor in a fairly large church who was concerned he was turning 40. He wasn’t sure he’d still have a job in a few years because he wasn’t as energetic and musically relevant as some younger guys who were starting to lead.
Now I’m listening to this guy talk, thinking, “If he’s old, what am I? Pre-historic?” I think I was able to help him see that leading congregational worship doesn’t require you looking like or having the energy of a rock star.
Besides there are real advantages to being an old worship pastor, or an old anything for that matter. In our youth-enamored culture, it’s good to be reminded that growing old is a good thing. Here are some thoughts that have encouraged me recently.
1. I know my Savior better and love him more than I used to.
2. I know and love God’s Word more than I did when I was younger.
3. I’ve seen my pride exposed more often, so in some ways, I’m humbler than I used to be (although I still have quite a ways to go).
4. I have more mistakes and experiences to draw from so I’m hopefully wiser in some ways. Definitely more relaxed.
5. I’m less impressed with what I do and more impressed with what God has done in Christ.
6. I can serve future generations by telling them all the stuff I’ve done wrong and a few things I’ve done right.
7. God has graciously given me another year on this earth to enjoy my family and church, bear fruit for his glory, and prepare for eternity.
8. Every year, I’m one year closer to seeing the face of my Savior.
I don’t know how old you are. But I know this. Growing old is a gift from God. And I’m very grateful for it. I pray you are as well.
When I was really young I use to tell my father that I didn’t want to grow old. He would remind of the alternative. Now that I am a Christian the alternative is glorious! I do look forward to getting older now because of all of the things you listed above. My prayer is that you would have many many more years spent learning about the Savior, enjoying your family, serving your local church and beyond! And if one day you’re in a wheelchair, have Alzheimer’s and a debilitating disease, may God grant you time during the day (if only a few seconds) to remember all of the grace in your life and His great salvation! Happy Birthday Bob!
Happy Birthday, Robert!
I know we are thrilled and thankful in Canada for the 52 years God has given you – especially this last year with Valley of Vision and Saviour to name just a few of the gifts the Lord has blessed us with through you.
I hope you keep leading and serving and singing and writing for another 52 years! If nothing else, it would be rather interesting to see a 104 year old guy leading worship… how old IS George Beverly Shea anyway…
Happy Birthday, Bob. It was my birthday on January 7 as well. Though I was born in 1983. I am a worship pastor at Christ Community Church of Canoga Park here in Canoga Park, California. Praise God for your ministry.
Happy Birthday Bob!
I’m a very young seminary student (23) with high hopes and aspirations of serving God by serving a local church as a teaching pastor one day. Such passion and such inexperience are my dangers these days. I praise God for the way he designed a solution to the problem, built into his church – older, wiser men discipling the younger! (Titus 2)
So thanks for encouraging worship leaders not to seek “youthfulness” or to imitate younger guys – we’re trying to imitate the older! So, I echo a resounding “Thank you!” from all of us young men who are watching you and taking notes!
Westminster Seminary California
Great post. In March my wife and I will have our second child and in May I will turn 32. I too am a worship leader who even at 32 feels the pull of youth culture and I wonder how much longer will I be ‘hip’ enough to be a worship leader. Your post is a great reminder to me that what the church is really needing today is not more ‘hip’ worship leaders, we need more gray, old, wise men leading the church and leading us to the throne.
Your reflections on the one who just turned 40 struck a painful nerve. That was me about a month (12/15) ago asking the same question regarding my future. As I reflected on your eight thoughts, number 5 stood out the most. It is not I, but Christ. I am simply a waiter serving at the Master’s table, serving as worship leader, pastor, husband, and father. The glory is His and the honor to serve Him is mine.
Happy Birthday, Bob
Because of Grace-
Happy Birthday, Bob, from your ol’ Temple U. fellow piano student and friend, Norma. What a good post – I love the Bible passage on gray hair, as I have plenty of “silver” as well now that I’m 50. Blessings on you, Julie, your family, and your ministry. May you continue to love the Lord more and more in the years to come.