There are advantages to being a senior.  Restaurant discounts,  a closer parking spot;  no asks me to help put the sofa on the truck when a couple is moving.  And an older person has a wealth of experience that can benefit younger people. 

I was looking at an article which gave me the idea for this article.  Marissa Henley, writing in Randy Alcorn’s magazine Eternal Perspectives, has written well. I will use her three points, but flesh it out with my own thoughts.

First, Older Friends Are More Likely to be Bolder Friends.  As I have gotten older, I have become more desirous of helping people, even if it temporarily ruffles feathers. For example, the way a missionary signed his letters. At the end of his letter – the normal place for a signature – his name was alone on the top line, followed by his wife and their sons on the second line. It made it look like his wife was one of his children. I challenged him to treat her like an equal intheir mutual ministry enterprise. He cut off all communication with me for years until something happened and he left our mission. Then, with a $100 gift, he seemed open to my friendship.  Oh, by the way, he immediately put his wife’s name on the top line with his own. 

 “True friendships can bear the weight of confrontation,” says Henley. Indeed. “Such friendship will emerge stronger.”  

Henley’s Older Bolder friend was less concerned about offending her and more concerned about her sin offending God. Henley wrote, “She cared more about my marriage than what I think of her.”

Over the years, my out-spokenness has gotten me in some trouble.  But consider Mark 2:4 and the personalities of the men who were determined to get their friend to Jesus. No seats left inside, so they climbed up on the roof, removed roof tiles–letting dust settle down on all below–and let their sick friend down through the roof.  Would you have done that?  Whereas most would not have let the guy down through the roof, I would have.  Such an aggressive personality wins some and loses some.

Second, Older, Bolder Friends Have Been Around the Block.   By simply living longer, older people have the Senior Advantage. They have experienced more.  Watched more. Seen some people do well, and seen others stumble and pay a high price. They know what works and what does not work. They have watched it unfold in living color over a course of decades.

Nothing substitutes for experience. When I was playing high school football, players would measure others by asking, “How many quarters [of a football game] have you played in?”  Why was this a question to ask? Because playing in a game is so much more intense, demanding and pressured than a normal football practice where a player knows everyone by name and they will be in English class the next day.  You need an older, bolder brother because they have lots of game experience. 

Thirdly, Older Bolders Have Paid the Price and Want a Reduced Rate for You.  Older people have also lived long enough to make many mistakes and they don’t want to see you make the same mistakes.  They want younger people to learn, paying only a reduced rate.

If you are smart at 35, imagine what you will be 20 years from now.  If you are smart at 50, picture yourself with another 20 years of watching life in the rear view mirror. 

Older Bolders have been studying the Bible for a long time.  Only slowly does it focus. A friend had been thinking about confronting a man who terribly offended him, but he saw something in Proverbs which steered him away from such a confrontation.  “Rebuke not a scorner, lest he hate you” (9:8). In his annual reading of the Bible, this brother did not see how that verse applied to his situation the first 42 times he read it. The Holy Spirit brought it to him only through many years of reading the Bible.

No, Older Bolders have not arrived. They are still learning.  But they have been students of themselves and others long enough to know where the potholes are.  They can help and will be eager to do so if invited.   

Older Bolders know how to confront, yet maintain a friendship.  Ben was a tall gangly boy growing up. I went out of my way to greet him and ask him how he was doing. He became an intern at our church, where his service involved some hiccups.  

Ben was determined to marry Cathy, even though his parents opposed the timetable of the marriage.  Believing the parents saw more than the young couple, I was drawn into the situation.  I invited the young man over for lunch and we had a heart-to-heart chat. It did not go well, and Ben departed out of my home and life.

Fast forward several months. The couple married.  I saw Ben around church. He avoided me as much as possible.

Then one day I confronted him.  “Ben, we disagreed about your marriage. But that was then, this is now.  You made a decision by going ahead and getting married. I respect that you are your own person.  You have the right to do as you think best.  So I wish you well, accepting you as an adult, equal in the power of choice that you exercise just like your parents.” He brightened and we parted on better terms.

Do you have an older bolder in your life?  By cultivating one or two older people, everyone gains.  The older bolder because helping nourishes his/her life; makes them feel useful;  completes their lives. The younger adult because he/she gains the wisdom God had stored up in His long-term saints.

“Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still;  teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning” (Proverbs 9:9).  

“Now Elihu had waited before speaking to Job because they were older than he . . . .  I thought ‘Age should speak, advanced years should teach wisdom’” (Job 32:4 & 7).