I recently slid quietly into a new decade of life—one where I get discounts on Tuesdays at certain department stores, receive targeted ads for wrinkle creams on my computer, and qualify to go on the church bus to the botanical garden with the senior ministry at my church. It happened so fast. It seems like just yesterday I was driving my mom taxi to games, debates, and recitals. It was a busy and purposeful time. I taught school on and off for many years and enjoyed it so much. I knew I was making an impact on many young lives and felt needed, valued and self-confident. I saw my role as a mom as incredibly important—even world changing. Lately, though, after retiring from teaching and seeing my last child get married and begin a life of her own, something has come over me. It’s hard to explain but is sort of a notion of disconnection, a sense of loss, a feeling of, “what now?”.
I know from talking to other female friends and relatives that these feelings are not mine alone. When women reach a certain age and our child-rearing duties are done we can feel lost, unsure, invisible and under-appreciated. At the same time, we know in our hearts that we have skills and talents that are just as strong as ever. We are leaders, organizers, encouragers and teachers. We still want to be useful, to make an impact, to share our wisdom with others. We want our lives to matter—even as we soldier on into the golden years.
What is it that contributes to this feeling of uselessness or disenfranchisement for senior adults like me? Well, often our churches and communities tend to look to the younger generation to fill positions of leadership and service. Senior adults are sometimes overlooked. Perhaps a lack of confidence or an introverted nature can play a role, as well. We don’t know if we are actually up to the task anymore. I don’t know what happened to that “in your face” confidence I had in my 30’s and 40’s—no matter what task it was, I just knew I was the best person for the job! Now, when I think about filling a particular need or position in my church or community I talk myself out of it, thinking, “Oh, I’m sure there’s a younger person who would be better”.
So, how should we view this issue as believers? Should we hang up our service hat when we turn 60? Absolutely not. Let’s look at some older women of the Bible who had great impact into their later years:
Lois, the grandmother of Timothy, demonstrated the power of godly older women to influence the next generation as she taught him to know and abide by the Word of God.
Naomi, the mother-in-law of Ruth, persevered through tragedy (loss of her husband and sons) to secure a future for her family. She showed great strength and faith throughout her life.
Anna, the prophetess, first sees Jesus 40 days after His birth at His purification ceremony. She recognized Jesus’ significance and the impact He would have on Jerusalem. She was 105 years old at the time. Anna remained vibrant and useful to the Lord until her death.
Elizabeth, wife of Zacharias, was 88 years old when she gave birth to John the Baptist! She was a relative and dear friend to Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Deborah, a judge of Israel, ruled the people with wisdom and encouragement for 40 years. She was loyal to God and inspired her people to victory in battle, guiding them to live in faith.
The bottom line is: Women like you and I can have an impact well into our golden years. In fact, God expects us to continue to serve. There is still so much to do—and we have the wisdom, experience, and skill to do it!
People in your sphere of influence need encouragement, prayer and guidance. Your church needs your giftedness and willingness to serve. Lost people need to hear the gospel.Your community needs your experience and support. The world needs your engagement, now more than ever, as it falls steadily away from the truth of God’s Word.
God expects us to stay engaged in life. He still has a plan for you—a vital part in His kingdom mission.
And…you are no less valuable to God now than you were in your younger days. You are precious to Him.
Pray for God’s guidance and direction as to what he would have you do in your church or community. Pray for the confidence to take on the task. Pray for renewed purpose and inner peace as you move into the next phase of life. God is faithful. And life isn’t over yet!