I read Seventeen magazine when I was 14 and AARP when I was 45, so maybe age-specific magazines don’t necessary reach their intended ages. I remember loving Good Housekeeping as a teenager when I had no house to keep. Today Seventeen magazine strikes me as terrifying. I vaguely remember when it was about hair styles and clothes, but it seems icky now.
The older I get, the more it seems that statements about age are not necessarily about age. I wrote a post a while back that felt hurtful to some readers. I didn’t mean for that to happen. Honestly, it’s true that many 60-something pastors need to retire, but it’s not as much about age as it’s about energy. I spent last week with my preaching group which includes a few 60-somethings. But they are still energetic, ready to learn new things, and willing to try new ways to be the church.
It’s not about age. It’s about energy. The truth is that we get tired as we age. The pastor who was ordained at 27 and serves the institutional church until she is 67 potentially preaches through The Common Lectionary (Years A, B, & C) over thirteen times. How many new things can we preach afresh about John the Baptist?
I know 40-something pastors who basically phone it in. They need to move on. And it’s possible to be a 50-something pastor who also needs to hang up the clergy stole for now. Maybe – after many years in professional ministry – many of us just need a sabbatical. We become cynical after spending countless hours in meetings that achieve nothing transformational. We become pessimistic, perhaps, after giving our lives to “grow the church” only to find that our culture is changing and – no matter what we do, it seems – our congregations are only growing smaller. It’s disheartening to admire creative colleagues who turn out to be misconduct pastors.
And yet . . .
the Spirit continues to infuse dry bones and lead the old to dream dreams while our sons and daughters prophesy. God speaks through secular periodicals and nature and random comments made by a stranger on the street. I’m feeling pretty energized today. I hope you are too.