The Benefits of Listening to the Elderly

Hearing an elderly saint speak of losing loved ones and friends, and how they are heaven-ready, also helps us look beyond this age to the one that is yet to come.

He told stories about his life, his family, his work, and the community. Yes, because we have been friends for a number of years, many of these stories I had already heard. Some of them I have even heard numerous times before. And one or two of them were even repeated during the same car trip. That day got my pastoral wheels turning. Why might the Lord, in his grace, cause the aged to repeat themselves as they do? 

 

A few weeks ago I was driving in the car with an elderly gentleman, recently widowed, as my traveling companion. He’s a lovely, Christian neighbor who never looks at a computer. So he will not read this article. Yet what follows I would not mind at all if he knew. Unknowingly that day, he was teaching me much more than he realized.

For as we spent time in the car, you can imagine quite easily what transpired. He told stories about his life, his family, his work, and the community. Yes, because we have been friends for a number of years, many of these stories I had already heard. Some of them I have even heard numerous times before. And one or two of them were even repeated during the same car trip.

That day got my pastoral wheels turning. Why might the Lord, in his grace, cause the aged to repeat themselves as they do? What is the Lord showing us through it? Rather than rolling our eyes or thinking “Here goes Grandma again,” what can be gained from these times? Here are five brief thoughts for you to consider.

Listening to the elderly reminds them of their legacy in our lives. Typically as people age, they experience age-related memory loss even if they are spared dementia. One outcome of this condition is that they do simply repeat things. Yet there is more to senior citizen’s repetition than forgetting they have already told you a story.

Often the elderly, who no longer have the strength and capacities for life they once enjoyed when they were working, raising families, and more active, naturally spend more time reflecting on their past. They are considering their heritage and the brevity of the life they have lived. As Proverbs 29:20 says, “The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.” The elderly desire for the coming generations to remember what came before them. Spending time with them as they reflect on the past shows them that we value the contributions they have made in our families, churches, and communities. When godly old saints tell us of former days, they are fulling the words of the psalmist. “So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come” (Ps. 71:18).

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