Joy in others when you reach ‘a certain age’
Recently, two events coincided: the first left me bemused, the second left me enthused.
The first concerned a health matter. The past two weeks have not been fun: I had a bout with a horrid stomach ‘flu (and, for female readers, this wasn’t “man ‘flu”). My doctor is a family friend. She was visiting my wife one evening and, in passing, asked how I was feeling. I answered in a typical bloke fashion: I gave her all the details! She wasn’t fazed. What she went on to say, however, fazed me. She recommended that I receive the “‘flu shot”. I responded, “Huh. But isn’t it currently reserved for vulnerable people and the elderly?” My doctor (did I say she is a family friend?!) looked me straight in the eye and said, “Yes.”
The second concerned a much younger guy. For the past four years I have met with him from time to time. I have spoken at a few meetings he’s arranged. One of the many projects he’s been working on is his first book. He asked me to read the first draft; our friendship could have fallen apart due to the comments I made about the manuscript. To his credit he took the criticism on the chin and kept going. We continued to meet up occasionally for lunches and some superb coffee.
This week I read his revised book manuscript. I was thrilled: but not because he incorporated anything I had earlier suggested. Instead, I was thrilled to see a younger man’s written work mature. This book, I anticipate, will be hugely important and helpful to readers. But, again, it had nothing to do with me. And, for one of those rare moments, I experienced a joy — a joy in another’s good work by the Lord’s grace and enabling. I found myself wanting to give a punch in the air victory cheer. If I could have done one of those footballer flips or rugby player’s slide — without putting my back out or bruising my shins — I would have done so. It is a joy to experience unalloyed happiness in another’s labours under God.
Which makes me think that such joy is precisely what an older person should have when watching younger friends and colleagues. Surely, one of the tasks of a pastor upon reaching a certain age and stage in ministry is to train, encourage and, then, take joy in younger workers. To be sure, there are inevitable dissapointments and hurts (all around). There is risk. On the other hand, to take the SAS saying in a different direction, ‘He who shares wins’. Better, as King David put it:
3 Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.
4 One generation commends your works to another;
they tell of your mighty acts.
5 They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
6 They tell of the power of your awesome works—
and I will proclaim your great deeds.
7 They celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
Psalm 145: 3 — 7
I’ll gladly take more of this experience at my ‘certain age’. The jury is still out about the ‘flu shot.