Ears To Hear?

A few days ago a close friend and I were in discussion about a number of things. At one point this person made the observation: “It’s truly sad younger ones seem so disinterested, even a bit hostile against hearing anything from older people these days. If they would recognize the wisdom that comes from experience they’d end up a lot happier and less in pain”.The same thing has been said for endless generations by the “elders” of tribes, churches, national and international leaders of all sorts. It’s certainly been said by most everyone who has ever parented or become a grandparent. And it’s a pain in the neck to hear it said if you’re not part of that older group of people…It’s also true. And for we OOOOOLLLLLLDDDDDD people, it can often be a real hurt to at times find ourselves left with little input but for prayer, as observers to miseries brought on younger ones by their own lack of experience.Of course Jesus (perfect, unlike any of us!) repeatedly said “For those of you with ears, hear”.Don’t get me wrong, plenty of older people are disconnected from hearing other’s sage experience and advice also. You don’t have to be young to be stubborn or old to be hard of hearing!Interesting that a disciple in biblical Greek is “a listener, a learner” Another saying that pops up from time to time is “live and learn” and I suppose that pain itself is often a great teacher.I’m thinking of a recent event where some dear young friends of mine put themselves through a number of travel woes due to not checking for the presence (or lack) of spare tire, etc., and who after being bailed out of a flat-tire situation out by some elder folk, had occasion to push their car quite a distance uphill to the nearest gas station… because nobody thought to check the gas gauge before they left the tire place.My response to the person telling me about this was “I remember the many times my own lack of experience, or humility, or sometimes outright stubborn rebellion against parents and/or leaders of several sorts (church or otherwise) ended up with my own pain. When nothing else teaches, repeated pain often brings us to a humility and an opening of one’s ears to the point we begin to actually think.My Dad was not a preacher, but I think he’d have made a pretty good one with some training. He was not a “wordy” person, not a non-stop talker (which has often been one of my own bad habits…) and of course wasn’t always wise or correct in his thinking or advice but he was more often right than wrong and sure knew a great deal more than I did, having lived a good bit longer than I!My Dad rarely gave much more than a couple sentences about how I might find a good chance at success if I did it like this or that… but he regularly would notice me messing the job up and simply stop, look, and say “Glenn- THINK”. Just that one word, and what an important thing.Scripture calls us to “not be foolish but try to understand what the will of the Lord is”. Certainly it’s true that the foolishness of youth can indeed simply age into the foolish dogmatics of the aged! We want what we want, we’re not listening, considering, there is little (from the Book of Psalms) “selah”, which is usually interpreted from the Hebrew as “pause, stop and think about it”.When we are/were young, we were often ready to move, jump, play with little thought about consequences.Only last night I heard a horrific story on the local news. A boy was playing around in front of his sister who was trying to pull her car out on an icy Chicago area road. As she tried to move forward he was laughing and jumped in front of her car. Each time she tried to carefully advance he did it again. Somewhere around the fourth or fifth time he slipped and though she braked, the car struck and killed him. What a brutal, horrible thing to live (or die) with on one’s mind!Late last night I read about the large number of homeless addicts who live in the storm drain tunnels under the city and suburbs of Las Vegas. One guy who was interviewed talked of wanting out after many years. He talked of being “addicted to methadone and marijuana” and the fact he’d been wasting his life and really wanted to get out. He spoke very directly about him being his own worst enemy and that he had nobody to blame, that he’d repeatedly made the same poor choices and had “done this to myself” and “have to change and get out of here”.He has come to realize this but it has taken quite a number of years. Time. Time indeed.Nobody but God knows how much time any of us have. Nobody but God knows what sort of “hard knocks” may be needed for us to learn.Thank God the Book of Proverbs (as well a human history and my own personal experience) shows we don’t -always- have to touch fire in order to get knowledge, wisdom and understanding. We really CAN get some from others’ mistakes and shared experiences.In my own case, the basics took 18 years, the last six of those in addictions, then I came to faith in Jesus. Believe me, I’m sure not beyond stubborn pride and rebellion even to this day… but I know what sowing such attitudes has always brought me- and it ain’t pretty!Yet, when I was young it seems (to me at least) that there was a bit more cultural respect for older people. I have often considered how blessed I was and am from the beginning of my faith walk with the Lord to be in the presence of older, godly, experienced Christians. Flawed and imperfect they were and are (as I am now and always will be on this planet) but I can say with zero hesitation they were all a great deal more experienced than I was. They had lived life, made excellent and horrible choices and lived to tell the tale.I learned to listen and by God’s grace, to apply at least a good number of the truths learned from classes “my elders” taught and teach. Most of the time I still take notes in a pda when I’m sitting in a Christian meeting where there is teaching. I try really listen regardless of the age or experience of the speaker but I must confess I trust the long and large view of those more experienced.I continue to nurture and appreciate relationships with pastors on our own leadership team at JPUSA and also in the Ev. Cov. Church of which we are a part, but there are many, many others in leadership (and otherwise) who are simply older, more mature and/or have made progress in their faith and life obviously beyond my own- and I’ve benefitted from their input.I could offer a long list of  many of these as personal friends, mentors, disciplers of -me-! Without such input I’m not only certain I’d still be pushing vehicles uphill hoping for a gas station… I’d very possibly be living in the dark of storm drains… or would be long gone from this earth due to my own stupidity and lack of intentional listening.The God of grace has seen fit to extend mercy to us- and often that mercy will not feel or seem like it. I have found Him to speak early and often through godly folks who have lived longer and who care enough to communicate experiences and truths I’ve sorely lacked. Thank GOD for His provision through the older, godly saints! If you’re not hanging out with such people, make the needed changes or you’ll surely miss much of what God wants for your spiritual health!Jesus profound words come to me now: “You will not see me until you say ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”. Amen.



  1. Hey Glenn,Jeff here (from TheophilusJ). I heard a retirement sermon many years ago of a senior pastor that happened to also be at the time the Chaplain for the U.S. Senate. That made him important – so I listened!He said something along the lines of I remember when I was 20 and thought I knew everything; but then I turned 30 and realized how little I really knew at 20, but had attained by 30…until I turned 40 and realized how little I knew at 30…and so on until he reached his present age (at the time) of 70 or so.I’ve always remembered that lesson – trying to keep in perspective the need to listen to elders and those more experienced (when I was younger), and now that I am older trying to balance giving sage advice and letting folks/loved ones go through the tough lessons – because I agree that seems to be the only way at times that the point sticks.Like your Dad, I have tried to teach my kids to "just pay attention" – which is like "think" in that you have to observe and be aware of the situation in order to make the right decision.I remember the first time I told my kids at the dinner table, "You can get so far in life if you simply just pay attention." The collective response from the bunch was, "huh?"Lord, have mercy….

  2. Who is older among us, though, Glenn? And let me be careful to say that i speak as a younger one, by about six years (i actually thought the gap was wider between us, but i just checked your profile). I passed my fiftieth this year, and have been reflecting on a number of failed relationships, many of them forgotten i am certain. And i’ve been experiencing the shoals of rocky relations with yet another (not) girlfriend this current season. I’ve considered the possibility of recommending a couple of years in your fellowship, but given her attitude i’m just not altogether certain she could actually benefit from it? Thankful i am for His mercy, indeed, that was shown me; and that continues to be shown, too. But my question remains, who among us is really ‘older?’ Do we measure this only in terms of the calendar? As i write, i do not know how to answer it, myself. I will leave it for others to consider. "….The God of grace has seen fit to extend mercy to us- and often that mercy will not feel or seem like it. I have found Him to speak early and often through godly folks who have lived longer and who care enough to communicate experiences and truths I???ve sorely lacked. Thank GOD for His provision through the older, godly saints! If you???re not hanging out with such people, make the needed changes or you???ll surely miss much of what God wants for your spiritual health!Jesus profound words come to me now: ???You will not see me until you say ???Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord???. Amen…." In my own experience that very thing was said to me, upon one of my departures from your good fellowship. Yet i do not recall whether it was upon the first, or second one decade’s year following upon another. And then, just this past week, yet another decade has dawned. And i reflect upon relationships past, wondering what i’ve left unsaid that i’ll have to answer for before the Lord? And in my own calls for reconciliation there remains one tactic i have yet to explore, that being that i was not just wronged, but i was also wrong in the context of a bad attitude i harbored among you. So i write, publicly, today to ask the forgiveness of you and your peers among the fellowship of Jpusa. I hope we can move forward in relationship? To clarify, but carefully, so as not to add any offense; i do not ask to return into your fellowship. What is behind us, in that sense, remains behind; though i remain open to the idea of a visit. And i hope that such a visit can be arranged within the new decade, if not within a couple of years? I remain your friend, always;Steve_G http://facebook.com/steve.garrett

  3. But who among us is the older, Glenn? ….I wrote a longer version of this the other night, hope you’ve rec’d it in good spirits. -Lord Jesus, teach us all to say with humble and sincere hearts, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord;" amen!

  4. Steve,It seems whenever the Bible speaks of "elders", it refers to one or both catagories of people: years and/or calling where the people of God respect the wisdom and maturity (not sinlessness for that isn’t a possibility!) of those who have either walked with God before them in terms of time and/or those who are called and gifted by the Holy Spirit to lead (pastors, teachers, prophets and the like). It seems the core point is maturity and a consistent walk with the Lord. In terms of Scripture, it’s not about win-lose or who gets their way in any sense.

  5. Finding nothing to disagree with in your answer, Glenn, or even in your original article for that matter. But before proceeding with further thoughts on the matter, i am led (of the Spirit) to ask your permission to proceed, within the context of your ‘blog. That because my next comment is going to have the potential for sounding critical? You may have already guessed where i’m going with this, since we both know of my history with the Fellowship over which you are one of the Pastor/ Elders?But given that i do respect your (former) position over me, as one Pastor/ Elder, i stop writing here. . . . 🙂

  6. Of one thing we can all be confident at that final day, that God in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, wipes away every last tear from our eyes as He welcomes us home forever. And we can ALL be grateful to He who has paid the price for every sin, those committed only against Him, and those we’ve committed against one another. . . . Please be forgiving of any bad attitude you may have read into this exchange, my "OLLLLLLLD" friend(s)? 🙂

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