One thing that I’ve noticed amid all of the craziness of this pandemic is that senior adults are some of the least concerned about it. I think it has to do with a certain perspective that seniors get as they grow older, especially when they believe in the Lord and have hope for their eternal future. I have always maintained that we give senior adults too little credit when we should be learning from their long faith journey, listening more and following their example. In this case, many senior adults have no fear about this virus because they have been proven by the Lord through the years that when it’s their time to go, it’s their time, and they truly don’t worry about it. I admire their trust in God. I don’t begrudge them in any way the freedom that they feel to go where they please and do what they please. They are, in fact, free in this country to make choices and to do what they will when it comes to this strange time in history. But I would like to submit to you that senior adults can specifically show love to their church by generously deferring to the preferences of those who are concerned about them.
As our churches start to take baby steps toward normalcy, pastors and other leaders are trying their hardest to establish and follow guidelines that will help the church be a safer place for all who choose to attend inside the building. These guidelines are for everyone’s benefit, but as we have seen again and again as this virus has progressed, the senior adult population is by far the most vulnerable. Most seniors I know don’t like to be qualified as seniors. But the truth is that if you’re over 65 we’re implementing a lot of these guidelines specifically to try to keep you from becoming a sad statistic. This has nothing to do with politics or fear-mongering. It’s simply about love and care for you and for our church as a whole.
With that in mind, seniors, we need you to take the lead in carefully following the guidelines that your church prescribes. We need you to be the examples to all of us in laying aside your freedom to hug or to sit in your usual spot, to defer to the concerns that some others may have that you don’t.
Imagine that you come to church and a younger friend there is unknowingly infected. (This has happened in churches all over the U.S.) Your friend is concerned about keeping distance just in case, but you hug him anyway because you aren’t worried about it. Now consider how your friend will feel when he realizes he was actually sick when you two hugged. When you give up, just for a little while, your preference for hugging and handshaking, you are loving your church in a special way, and you’re making things so much easier on your poor pastor and other leaders who are carrying the burden of trying to make the church safe and comfortable as we return to our buildings.
I feel and hear the frustrations that many senior adults have as they see the ways that churches are taking extra precautions. Many feel like it’s all unnecessary at best, and politically motivated at worst. But please know that in churches all over this country, pastors and other leadership are agonizing over the responsibilities that they have to do this in the proper way, to listen to the experts, to follow recommendations, and ultimately to do what is best for ALL of their people, all the while knowing that no one will be perfectly satisfied with their plans and solutions.
Our senior adults can make the entire process easier, with less contention and with more preference for one another, if you will lead us in love. Cheerfully submit to the guidelines that your church lays out, even if it’s extremely frustrating. We need your leadership in this area. One of the main ways you can love the church right now is by letting the church love you.