Be Wise

Dr. Mary Manz Simon,
ALOA Board of Directors

Old people are wise. Those who live a long time have understanding. (NIRV)

I often turn to children’s Bibles for clear-cut translations of Scripture. The verse quoted above, Job 12:12, is an example.

Many versions frame the content in the form of two questions. I like to read this verse in declarative sentences. I need to be reminded that “old people are wise,” especially when I can’t figure out how to work our new Smart TV.

Gray hair gives us societal permission to offer feedback upon request. After all, we’ve lived a long time. But often, that same gray hair frames our words with unwanted authority; we become judgmental instead of helpful.

How can we give effective and helpful feedback?

  • View the request as an invitation to help. The tone says, “We can solve this together.” Often, collaborative connections result in solutions worth trying. A sense of ownership shapes the dynamic to work as a team.
  • Draw from your “experience bank.” Offer practical, realistic examples or observations. When people ask for advice, they usually aren’t looking for our personal history. They want ideas that work. You’ve solved problems and resolved situations. How did you do it?
  • Be honest. Did your solution work? Were there unexpected outcomes? What was the short-term impact? long-term result? Listen carefully if someone wonders aloud, “How will this work?” You might be able to offer additional observations that will make your feedback even more valuable.
  • Don’t avoid admitting, “I don’t know.” We might be wise, but we are still lifelong learners. Regardless of age, truly wise people are always eager to grow.

Check out this video to hear how our EQ increases as we age, equipping us to help those younger generations. 

EQ_play video

Take a look at previous posts for more inspiration for older adult ministry.

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