Jump Start # 2814
2 Timothy 2:1 “To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Paul and Timothy had a special relationship. Both were preachers. Paul had chosen Timothy to travel with him and had sent him to many places to preach. Paul had mentored, trained and helped Timothy become a courageous man of God. Paul watched over Timothy, like a proud father would watch his son. There was a definite age difference between the two. Paul was old and Timothy was young. The old preacher was advising the young preacher. The advise we find is not in how to write sermons but in how to stand firm against error and to do the work that God expects. The old preacher and the young preacher.
I was reading an article out of the very first issue of the American Christian Review, written by restoration preacher Benjamin Franklin in January 1856—165 years ago. My things have changed since then. But in some ways they haven’t. Consider what Franklin has to say about old preachers and young preachers:
“Old men are neglected. That wise adage, ‘Old men for counsel, but young men for war,’ has gone out of date. It is too far behind the times for ‘Young America,’ for ‘this age of progression and improvement.’ Aged men, such as God, under all dispensations, has required his people to honor and respect are now sneered at, as, ‘common,’ ‘old fashioned,’ ‘fogies,’ that may do to speak ‘in the country,’ but not in towns and cities! Young and vain men are flattered and inflated with conceit, if not real foppery and dandyism encouraged. But in all such cases, the ruin of the cause, and the frequently both the ruin of the old preacher and the young is wrought.
Our aged preachers must receive the respect, esteem, and consideration due them. They, must be treated with deference, and their counsels must be regarded and have their due weight. It is contrary both to reason and revelation for the younger to rule the elder. Young men, however, must be encouraged, their way opened for usefulness and improvement, and dproper consideration given their efforts. All possible care should be taken to improve young brethren who are making efforts to preach, to make an open door for them, and make them useful; but there is both a rational and a scriptural place for both the elder and the younger, that both be encouraged, sustained, and duly honored, and the cause saved from scandal.”
Some thoughts for us:
First, the work in the kingdom is too great for there to be any jealousy or bitter feelings between young and old preachers. Their styles and their approach to the work may be different, and as long as it is Biblical, it should find it’s place among brethren. Some like to sit in coffee shops and do their work there. That wouldn’t work for me. Too many distractions. But others can do that well. I’m of the generation that has massive libraries. Lots and lots of books. Younger preachers rarely do that. Everything they need is on their computer. If it works, don’t try to change one into the other. Just let them do their work.
Second, us older preachers can certainly learn much from younger preachers. The minds of the younger preacher are sharp and moves quickly. They are connected to a younger audience and they know how to reach them. We older preachers would do well to listen to a younger preacher. Let him share his ideas and dreams. It will do us good and we can learn so much.
Third, younger preachers need the advice, experience and wisdom of older preachers. This is an invaluable benefit to younger preachers. New books come along suggesting things that we older preachers have heard a dozen times before in the past. Some ideas need to be buffered and considered before they are launched. Experience is one of the best teachers and the way to get experience is time. Older preachers have put in that time. They have preached and preached and preached. They have preached in small settings and in large gatherings. They have preached in trying times and in wonderful times. They have preached dozens and dozens of funerals. They have witnessed people coming and going. They have been through some wars and some departures. And, in all of this there are stories, and lessons learned. We older preachers have made mistakes and looking back we would have done a few things differently. We have seen the good that the preached word has done. We’ve seen lives changed. We’ve seen men appointed to shepherd the people of God. Younger preachers do not have to make these same mistakes as older preachers have. Crossing that generational line, the younger preacher can gain so much insight so much faster by listening and learning and not having to go through those things himself. He is ahead of the game because he has learned from one much older than he is.
Older and younger. I have a group of younger preachers that call me all the time. I am amazed that they are interested in what I have to say. They are strong, powerful and doing great work in the kingdom. I do not want to stand in their way, but am willing to help them with what I know.
Somethings never change. Benjamin Franklin felt compelled to write about the old preacher and the young preacher. He wrote those words before the Civil War and before most of the country knew the name Abraham Lincoln. And, all these years later, there is still much good that can come from a fellowship and relationship between a Paul and Timothy or an old preacher and a young preacher.