Generational Living: Honoring Elders

Kim Sullivan

February 4, 2016

Do you intentionally spend time with older people? We can be surrounded by kids when we're parents, but what about those who have gone before us? The older and wiser have so much to offer, it's worth leaning on their experience! Here are some whys and hows for purposefully reaching out to those who are older than you.

Don’t take the elderly for granted

Don’t take for granted those in your family who are older. Is there a family reunion coming up? Or a birthday celebration? Purpose in your heart to honor those in their golden years. Ask them questions. Let them tell stories. Consider recording their image and voice to keep on record. So often, when I hear funeral eulogies, I wonder if anyone took the time to tell the deceased all of the wonderful things that are said about them after they’ve died. Consider having a “This Is Your Life” night with other members of the family. In addition to celebrating a life well-lived, you might learn something new about your relative.

Make yourself available

Make yourself available to the elderly. Perhaps you live far from family, or many of its older members have passed away. Volunteer to help with the widows and widowers at your church, or notice those who are elderly and lonely in your neighborhood. Scripture admonishes for those who are older to teach those who are younger (Titus 2:4), but if we are never in a cross-generational situation, we don’t give others the opportunity to fulfill this commandment. When you find yourself with those who are older, purpose to ask questions and listen. Value the time you are with them. John Maxwell says it this way, “The act of listening is one of the greatest ways to show people that you truly value them.”

Involve your kids

Something our family used to do is to visit the nursing home with our children. Sometimes local nursing homes allow churches to come in and have a service on Sundays. Our small group would come in and lead worship, preach a short message, and the kids would perform a puppet show. The residents loved the puppet show most. Even when family visits those in assisted living, they often leave the children at home. The synergy created when all three age groups are together is priceless!

Walk in their shoes

See yourself in that same place someday. In a previous article about peer relationships, I wrote about the analogy of a race and how important it can be to have pace-setting peer friendships. The very same analogy can be made for including seasoned mentors in your life. Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, Hebrews 12:1 Surround yourself with those who have gone before you, those who can cheer you and your peers all the way to the finish line. They understand what it takes to hear those coveted words, “Well done…” Some of the people we can learn most from are those who may not even be with us any longer, but allow their legacy and example to make you better, in so doing, their influence will live long past their life here on earth.

Posted in: Grandparenting

About the author — Kim Sullivan

Kim Sullivan is a writer with a background in everything from homeschooling to nonprofit management. She has raised three children each of whom are successful in their own unique way. Recently, Kim has done the most radical and risky thing she has ever done…she moved 700 miles from her suburban Chicago home and everything familiar to her and relocated to Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is working on a brand-new website and blogs at Journey to Epiphany. She is also writing a book about her adventures in following Jesus.

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