Christians who are growing old have the opportunity to teach younger believers how to keep the faith and finish the race well.

My grandfather was in his early 90s when he passed away. He had lived a long, good life. He was a carpenter by trade and a farmer by hobby. His hands were strong yet soft till the day he died. He often told me the hardest part of getting older was that his mind was willing and able, but his body was not.

Toward the end of his life, he would often tell me he was ready to be with the Lord. He wasn’t sure why he was still here. I would give him the same answer every time. The Lord kept him here for me. He was my spiritual guide, my mentor, my rock. Even in his 90s, when his mind was growing dull, he taught me by his example, contentment and steadfastness.

My grandparents, with their godly example, aren’t alone. Their example of faithfulness is afforded to every saint who lingers on this earth into old age. In fact, older Christians have some of the most important lessons to teach the local church today.

Let me list a few.

  1. Older saints train the next generation

Everyone has heard the horror stories of the power struggle that exists between younger leaders taking responsibility and older leaders letting it go. But this struggle need not exist. Instead, older Christians have both a responsibility and an opportunity to slowly entrust the next generation with the tasks they have carried for years. Likewise, younger Christians have a responsibility and opportunity to humbly learn and take up the mantle of work.

The church needs older deacons training younger deacons. We need older ladies teaching younger ladies. We need nursery workers, Sunday School teachers, small group leaders, kitchen workers and party planners to invest in the ones who will carry the work on for coming years. This often requires great humility, but it also yields the deep joy of seeing something so precious continue into the future—even if it changes a little. When this exchange occurs, the blessing and benefit for the whole church is enormous.

  1. Older saints are living testimonies of God’s faithfulness over decades

I have never heard an older saint declare at the end of their life that God has not been there for them. The verdict is unanimous. At the end of life, they proclaim God’s faithfulness.

Older saints possess numerous stories of God’s care, provision, protection, teaching, blessing and more. They can remember answered prayers, understand sanctification and testify to the longstanding goodness of Christ.

When a brother or sister has given in to doubt, when faith is shaky and fear is firm, the older saint is a walking, talking memorial of God’s continued faithfulness. They get to be an anchor of stability in a church that faces the headwinds of a hostile culture.

  1. Older saints are powerful examples

Consistency is one of the most underrated virtues of human life. Everything seems to shift from one trend to another. Few things last, are made to last and endure over time. In such a shifting world, stable, steadfast consistency is almost supernatural.

Older saints have the privilege of displaying a heavenly consistency that shows younger believers how to walk with the Lord. We need to see older saints who have prayed for decades, worshiped for decades, sang praise songs for decades and served through the church for decades. We need to see one who has not given up.

There is great power in seeing the living example of one who has not changed in their convictions, commitment and resolve. Older saints can show that a life spent in prayer, service and faith is not a life in vain. They still show up to church. And they still read their Bibles. They still come to fellowships. They are running the race and finishing it well.

  1. Older saints picture true joy

Sometimes life feels dark and hopeless. It can be a daunting thought to think about facing this life for 50 more years if the Lord tarries. To make matters worse, some older individuals turn more bitter and resentful with age.

But the older Christian gets to display a carefully cultivated and heavenly nourished joy. It’s encouraging to look to an older saint and see there is joy to be had even through the heartaches of a long life in a fallen world. An older saint who displays a joyous life gives real hope to those who come behind them.

  1. Older saints possess natural wisdom

Older saints have much to offer. They have naturally lived through much. They often have occupied a world unknown to most today. Through those experiences, they have gained a deep wisdom. Most of that wisdom is from trial and error, but it has come from a long look at the ways of life.

For example, the way an older saint can say to a worrying younger Christian, “this too will pass,” carries with it a wisdom of experience that comforts the fledgling heart. Older saints have often “been there and done that.” They can guide the church away from pitfalls and into consistent pastures.

  1. Older saints are close to heaven

The truth is that any one of us is a single breath away from heaven. But older saints know this better than most. And this knowledge tends to cast the mind toward heaven. This helps a person see the world through a better lens.

I have yet to encounter an older saint who has come to the end of their long life and cried that they were not ready. Rather, everyone I have encountered has been ready for the day they knew was coming. This closeness to heaven has a way of speeding up the sanctification of the heart. It increases joy, confidence and kindness. Those who are close to heaven can offer much good as their minds and hearts are prepared to see the face of Jesus more than the rest of us.

  1. Older saints die well

The Puritans were concerned with dying well. This involved keeping the faith, dying with hope, clinging to the promises of Christ and entering into glory in the confidence of Christ. Dying well isn’t something just for the Puritans. It is for all of us.

One of the most powerful lessons an older saint can teach is the lesson of keeping the faith until the dying breath. It shows the rest of us how to live out our lives for the glory of Christ and the good of others.

My grandparents died well. They were still teaching me, still loving Jesus, still loving others and still loving the church until their dying breaths. The lessons they passed on to me were innumerable. In fact, they are still teaching me as I remember their examples and better understand their lessons. All older saints have the opportunity to teach the rest of us how to keep the faith and finish the race well.