Last week I wrote to older Christians asking them to take initiative in the lives of younger Christians, as we need people who will take time for us, correct us, and point us to Christ.

I received a number of responses from those very older Christians, but they were not taking offense or rejecting the appeal. Instead, they asked that younger Christians be addressed as well. Some have indicated that they would love to be the kind of mentor the previous article urged them to be but have had no luck finding interested younger people.

This should not be so. While I still place importance on the older seeking out the younger and striving to initiate relationships as the more mature brethren, it’s of utmost importance that we younger Christians value them. The Bible shows us the importance of honoring them:

“You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the Lord.”
– Leviticus 19:32

“The silver-haired head is a crown of glory,
If it is found in the way of righteousness.”
– Proverbs 16:31

“The glory of young men is their strength,
And the splendor of old men is their gray head.”
– Proverbs 20:20

So, how do we honor them?

First, we build relationships with them.

One of the best ways to honor older Christians is to simply make time for them. We can let them know we value them by seeking out their company. Just come right out and say it – “I’d like to spend more time with you,” or “I want you to teach me _____,” or “I hope you’ll consider being a mentor to me.”

Make a phone call, write a note, invite them to a meal (COVID preferences permitting). In the busyness of our lives it can be easy to forget them. It can also be easy to focus on people of our age, who share our interests and hobbies. Putting others above ourselves doesn’t always come natural to us, but it’s one of the key ways in which we offer ourselves to God as living and holy sacrifices (Romans 12:1-3, Philippians 2:3).

Additionally, if you have kids, one of the best things you can do for them is to help them build relationships with older Christians. The atomization of the church into age- and interest-based groups has not been healthy for anyone. Young people need wise guides, and they need relationships beyond their own age group if they are to mature into fully participating members of the congregation.

(Of course, we live in a time with so much concern for the safety of children and so many horror stories of church members who took advantage of such relationships. The safety of our children must certainly come first. But there are obvious ways for parents to remain in control of their determined boundaries while still bringing older Christians into their lives.)

Second, we look to them for answers.

“Wisdom is with aged men,
And with length of days, understanding.”
– Job 12:12

They are family members who have wisdom we don’t, and we should be in the habit of looking to them as such. They know things we don’t about walking with God, about relationships, about child rearing, about finances, and about all kinds of other concerns.

In a time when we can Google all of our questions, turn to blogs and YouTube channels that have all kinds of answers and advice, and join Facebook groups built for crowdsourcing answers to our challenges, it can be easy to get in the habit of getting all of our “wisdom” from the internet. We can look to podcasters, online preachers, and writers (even people like me) for our spiritual guidance.

Of course, there is plenty of help to be found online. But there are also plenty of bad answers. There are plenty of fake experts. There are plenty of groups where the community built to share wisdom is no more than a forum for pooling ignorance.

Most importantly, though, these resources don’t have the personal touch. Podcast hosts and YouTubers don’t know us. They don’t know what we need. They don’t have time to pray with us and answer all of our questions specific to our lives and challenges. A mentor who doesn’t know your name isn’t really a mentor at all.

So, use those tools, but use them with caution. And before you look to them for answers, consider whether there might be an older man or woman in your congregation who can answer your question first. Not only will you get the answer, you’ll draw that much closer to a fellow Christian. You’ll have somebody who cares for you beyond just that question.

So much knowledge at our fingertips is a wonderful blessing, but sometimes the cost of convenience is far more than we realize. Which would you rather have? Convenience, or a relationship? A quick answer, or wisdom, love, and someone you can serve in return?

As with the previous article, I concede that taking the first steps toward these relationships can be awkward and intimidating. It might take some time, and not all relationships are going to be easy matches. But God’s Word tells us just how important it is for us to honor our elders and value their wisdom. It’s more than worth it to have these wonderful Christians in our lives, to bless us and be blessed by us.

If you’re a younger Christian don’t have this kind of relationship, pray about it, and take steps to pursue one today.