Bob’s Incredible Story – Man, Do I Miss that Old Man
About 13 years ago, we lost a tribe of older couples and it made no sense. All of them had been doing missions, building, showing up, hauling — these guys and gals were core involved people. With, seemingly, lame excuses, they headed out the door. At their new churches, they tithed, did Bible studies, and stayed involved. I didn’t get it. They still loved us, they talked to us, and they asked lovingly about our successes. So what was it?
Listening and praying over time — I figured it out. We push. We work. We serve. We hustle. They just couldn’t keep the pace anymore and they couldn’t figure out how to transition. We were all too young, busy, and dumb to know that there needed to be a gracious, fulfilling transition. They got tired of saying “No” and moved on. It was a loss of wisdom and experience for us and loss of community and opportunity for them.
Since then, I have been trying to extend more grace to the leaders (who work so much) and to those who are getting to a place where the “work” part is just a bit much. I have begun to tell people, “Do what you can… if you need the day off, the event off, or if you can’t do that job — it’s okay.” This wasn’t who I was in my thirties or even forties.
The body of Christ is made up of all ages. One day, I am going to need a bit of grace when I get forgetful and some patience when I can’t “tote today’s bale.” It is just easier to see now — I wish when I was young I had a bit older, understanding eyes. We need to make grace and places for everyone to do what they are able to do. We need to design places that allow these great elders of ours to love and pour into the lives of those who are running. My second mentor did just this.
Bob just couldn’t build or carry anymore. He aged gracefully, endured many illnesses, still wanted to be with the gang but he knew he had limits. So long before any of us young bucks figured this out, Bob just did it. He would show up at job sites and set out folding chairs around the site. Then he would go make sweet tea and put a towel across his arm (I am tearing up now…) and work his way from chair to chair. At each chair he would sit and offer a cold glass of ice tea and a compliment to every worker who passed by (now, I am crying…) It was so incredible to hear him say, “Well don’t you look beautiful today young lady!” or “Man you are really working hard!” as he offered that glass of cool iced tea.
We need to help people find chairs along with the inspiration and confidence to sit in them and change the world. I can’t imagine how much it is going to kill me one day to have to sit to serve. I hope that I will be Bob and not need encouragement but I hope that someone will be there valuing me if I do.
Doug Burrier © 2016