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Senior adults share wisdom gleaned from living, serving


NEW ALBANY, Ind. (BP) — Read your Bible. Listen well. Don’t sacrifice today’s moment for tomorrow’s plan.

When asked three questions about lessons they’ve learned over the years, a group of senior adults from Graceland Baptist Church in New Albany, Ind., gave responses that would probably reflect those of their peers around the country. The group included ages from 68 to 96 and individuals as well as married couples.

What habit has been the most important for you in your walk with Christ?

“Lots of reading the Bible and books about the Bible,” said Juanita Leffler, 92.

Daily Scripture reading was a top response from respondents, along with a devotional time and church attendance. Also important were reading books about the Bible, being under sound Bible teaching and consistently having time for prayer and journaling.

Mary Alice Pennington, 96, felt “going to many Bible studies where people share[d] their thoughts” was important to her faith.

Looking back to his younger self, one respondent noted how crucial it was to find and learn from those more “seasoned.”

“On reflection, it was important to learn from older men and women who were strong in the faith, to look up to them as models when I was growing and maturing,” said Tom Hardy, 69. 

“One day not so long ago,” he added, “I realized I am now one of those seniors and have to be evermore aware of my potential influence on others.”

What other bits of life advice would you give to younger people?

It’s staggering to consider the cultural and technological changes over the last 90 years. Still, there are bits of advice respondents considered timeless.

“Love others well and see each person as one created by God with gifts to open,” said Liz Geisen. Instead of already forming your response in your head when someone is talking, she encouraged, take the time to actually listen.

“Everything we do in our daily life is an extension of our faith,” said Greg, her husband of 47 years. “Love and encourage those around you.”

“Make eye contact when talking to people,” said Bill Stites, 79. “Put others before you. Be honest.”

For Virginia Marcum, as faithfulness in Bible reading led to growth in Christ, a theme emerged.

“Be faithful in what you do. Be faithful in your marriage. Be faithful in your job,” said Marcum, 91.

Other responses include:

  • Don’t use credit cards.
  • Live simply. Avoid debt. Give generously.
  • Don’t love things that are only temporary.
  • Focus on relationships, then on tasks and accomplishments (especially when it comes to your wife and children).
  • Share your financial blessings – regardless of the amount – from a cheerful heart rather than a sense of God-required obedience.
  • Don’t let media make you develop a lifestyle contrary to what Jesus would want you to do.

What area do you feel you worried too much about in your younger years?

Hindsight, and years, bring clarity. Concerns that loomed large in one stage of life can now be seen as more bark than bite, several respondents noted.

William and Ann Booth, 82 and 86 years old, said they worried too much over measuring up with those who had big houses and fancy cars.

Gary Clark, 68, encouraged others not to focus so much on the future that you mortgage the moment.

“In my younger years I think I probably worried too much about tomorrow,” he said, “resulting in missing out on the present.”

“I worried too much if my children would turn out to be good adults,” said Leffler. “I feel they did.”

Hardy admitted to spending time worrying about his role as a provider.

“God never failed to provide for all of the needs (not necessarily the wants) of me and my family,” he said.

“Most or all of what we worry about never happens,” said Greg Geisen. “God works out those situations so much better than we could ever think of.”