By Pastor Nikki Ragush
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”-Henry Ford
Very few people appreciate having others describe them using that nasty three letter word, OLD! I am in a strange position here at the church; I have the opportunity to spend time with the seniors monthly at their get-togethers while I also meet weekly with the youth on Wednesday nights. I hear two conflicting opinion about my age; one group says I’m still so young and have lots of life ahead of me, while the other one nicely reminds me how I’m out of touch with teenage culture and yes they use the word old sometimes. As strange as this position is, it comes with an amazing opportunity. I realize more and more how I have so much to learn, not just from the older generation, not just from the younger generation, not just from my own generation but from each separate group there are new things to learn and great reminders to be implemented.
I was blessed with having each of my grandparents alive when I was born, learning quickly that the older generations are not outdated or out of touch with reality but sometimes they remember that although culture has changed morals and respect should not waver. I think of the impact that Timothy’s Grandmother had on him that Paul speaks about; also I am reminded of Titus 2 which speaks of the impact and the learning that can come from older men and women. I learn best from life stories, and there are many mentors in my life who have forever changed me and taught me so many things by allowing me to be a part of their lives.
I have also been blessed by God with so many friends of a similar age as me; ones who have had very different life experiences which include travel, varied education, difficult trials, and different worldviews. This doesn’t mean that I sway on my foundational beliefs, but it helps me to become more understanding and loving toward people. My time at my bible school was a fantastic opportunity not just because I was given a degree and had lasting memories, but the bulk of my learning took place at coffee shops, McDonald’s runs, and in dorm rooms, where I could speak to others about what it meant to truly live as a Christian. The verse “Iron sharpens Iron” (Proverbs 27:17) is a key verse I think about when I reflect on that time.
The last group I’ll talk about is those younger than me, which are in two separate groups in my mind; children and teenagers. Jesus said “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”(Matthew 18:3) As I have grown older and responsibilities increase I think to this verse, children don’t stress when things don’t go perfect. Children understand having faith without proof, Children trust completely without question, Children get excited to learn new things and grow. There are so many ways I am so far from being a child, but so much pureness and delicacy that comes when we seek to have child-like faith. Children don’t slow down, especially when they become teenagers seeking to do big things in the world having vision to change the entire world. When I look at some of the teenagers I work with I see a drive and potential, and I become excited for what they can do I encourage them, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12).
We could simply say this is great that each group has sometimes to offer but we’ll offer what our age group has, and that’s good for them but not for me. However, it is like Henry Ford’s quote says if we choose to stop learning then we will be old, but instead let’s continue to learn and seek what God has for each of us each day. Let’s wake up like a child who is excited for what the day brings, continue our day like a youth who sees the ability they have to make a difference, learn from others who may differ from us but seek to be what God intends us to be, and finally use wisdom like those older than us and learn from the experiences they themselves have had.
Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance