Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 29, 1970

How Old Are You?

This is usually the first question a preacher hears from a church that is looking for someone to work with them. The second question is, "How is your health?" I dare say that most preachers on the shady side of fifty years old have had this experience in recent years. Where these two conditions are prime factors, (and in most places they are) the preacher knows without asking that he is now "too old," and those ulcers or that heart attack a few years ago make two strikes against him.

After two or three of these experiences the preacher begins to ask himself some questions: Why didn't someone warn me about this before I gave up that good job, or that small business? Why didn't someone tell me that about twenty-five years was as long as the brethren would be interested in my services? After those peak years the churches you helped to establish and the people you helped to teach and baptize expected you to quietly step aside in favor of someone without the handicap of a few grey hairs.

But what should the preacher do now? Must all those years of experience, study and preparation, and in most cases sacrificing, now be put aside? It is a little late in the day to think about a new career in seculuar work. But you now know why so many preachers in their middle years are trying to get back into a small business, or attempting to relearn the occupation they abandoned years ago. Bro. is now selling books from door to door. (I remember a few years ago he had more calls from churches than he could fdl, but he had a little health problem about five years ago and it slowed him down some.) And there is Bro. ____________ ; he is operating his gasoline station now; he did some very good work in years past but is now hoping to build up enough Social Security payment for something to retire on in ten years. Bro.__________ who used to be one of our most sought after young men for meetings, debates, etc., is now selling insurance. Others are supplementing their income in various ways. All of them are still trying to do an acceptable job of preaching for small churches that cannot afford full time support. Now that I think about it, that is how they began preaching in the first place; and that is the reason their health isn't so good today. If they had known twenty-five years ago what they know now, would they have been so eager to entrust their material well-being to the generous ministrations of their brethren? I'm persuaded that it would have made little difference in their decision.

"Pardon me just a moment brethren, while I answer the phone."

That was the church in Metropolia; they are looking for a full time preacher; but for the work they have planned and because they have so many teenagers they want a younger man. Yes, I held a meeting or two for them some years ago; they were just getting started then and wanted me to come and work with them but I couldn't work it out just then.

Now before someone brushes aside what has been said by saying, "he is just bitter," let me say that I am still employed; brethren are still supporting me; I haven't been fired — ever; neither do I have to move. But I assure you of one thing — I'm not telling anyone how old I am, and as far as the brethren know I am as healthy as a horse!

There is an ancient saying that might be an appropriate epitaph for preachers: "We Get Too Soon Old and Too Late Smart."

Name Withheld To Protect The Aged.