Singing Celts and Walk-in Tubs

The internet radio station I listen to at work is tuned in to a Celtic music station right now. Gaelic Storm, The Irish Rovers, The Chieftains, The Tossers, and a ton of people you’ve never heard of are on it. I have a few other stations on that site that are more contemporary stuff, pop and rock, that sort of thing.

Imagine my consternation, then, when I looked at the ad banner at the top of the web page and saw the words “Is a Walk-in Tub Right for You?” Seriously? How elderly do you think I am, internet radio website? Wait, don’t answer that.*

As Keri Wyatt Kent explains in her book Deeper into the Word: Reflections on 100 Words from the Old Testament, elders have been revered for millennia. According to her entry on elder, in the Old Testament the word could denote mere age or a formal position of leadership in a family, clan, village or larger unit of society.

We know that elder is a New Testament word as well, translated into English from the Greek presbutero. Here too it can mean an older person or it can refer to an office within the church.

So here’s the thing. Since the same word can mean both being older and being in leadership, you’d think that leadership would be restricted to those who are older. That’s not the case, though. In the Old Testament, God anointed a young Jeremiah as a prophet and told him to go tell it like it is to those in charge. (Jeremiah 1:4-10.) For a New testament example, we find Timothy who pastored a church (and appointed elders to assist him) when still young. (1 Timothy 4:12.)

Sometimes I wonder about being given that kind of responsibility at a young age, though. It’s not that I question God’s wisdom in Jeremiah’s and Timothy’s situations. Far from it. I see how they served God despite their youth, so that they could not boast in their own ability, and that he used them mightily. No, I’m not thinking of them. I’m thinking of someone I know a lot more intimately, personally: me.

In both the church and my profession I hit leadership early. On the elder board at age 29 and chairing it at age 31 (concurrent with a 2 1/2 year pastor search, I might add), and appointed as a judge at age 35. I don’t think I was ready for either position, and my lack of experience and maturity showed itself often enough. Then again, one thing I learned was how to rely on God. I just would have liked to have taken advantage of that knowledge more. There are a lot of mistakes I made because I tried to act under my own power.

Yet after that initial three year term on the elder board I was asked to return for two more stints (or maybe three more, I lost count). And in my legal career I’ve been on the bench for 17 1/2 years now, and hope to continue for another decade-plus. I’m certainly better at these things than I was at the beginning, and there is a ton of experience I’d have never gained without being in those positions. It’s funny, though, that as I’ve gained experience and maturity I’m also growing in the ability to look to God to work through me, equipping me and using me to do the work he has appointed for me.

I am so glad he not only created me to do good work (Ephesians 2:10), but works through me for his purposes. (Philippians 2:13.) And I know he can continue to do so even when I’m ready for a walk-in tub.

***

What about you: Has God given you opportunities to serve that you thought you weren’t ready for? What happened?

***

*Perhaps the fact I have a classical station and a Benny Goodman type station on that website played a part in the advertising directed my way, but honestly this is the first time I’ve seen old folks ads plastered across the top of my page. Oh well, I suppose it could be worse. I could be getting ads for monster truck rallies or something.**

**My apologies to those readers who frequent monster truck rallies.

***

P.S. All is well. The next day the station posted an ad inviting me to enroll in an online university to obtain a bachelor’s degree in “Game Art”. I’m not sure what that is, but I think it means they think I’m younger than I am. See, it all averages out.

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22 Responses to Singing Celts and Walk-in Tubs

  1. Katie says:

    Ha! Pandora is always trying to “hook me up” with “hot young single women in [my] area” (I’m female, and straight, and married), and Facebook often tries to sell me dentist’s equipment (tooth scrapers and x-ray machines and the like) (I am not a dentist or anything resembling one). Clearly the sites’ ad-targeting algorithms need some work.

  2. I’ve been to a monster truck rally. Cross my heart.

  3. Thanks for the shout-out, Tim. I get ads all the time promising to help me meet “older singles” in my area. I’m married. Although I do have a significant birthday coming up next month–so maybe they’re anticipating that! I like Celtic music but tend to listen to whatever my kids are listening to, just to gather intelligence on their influences.

    • Tim says:

      I remember doing a lot of intelligence gathering when my kids were teens too, Keri. Now that my son is 22, I listen to what he listens to because he has good taste!

  4. Tim, nice post. Incidentally, as I read it though I thought of how many people, young or old, who could use a walk-in tub due to disabilities.

    • Tim says:

      I know what you mean, Jane. Walk-in tubs are a blessing for those who need them. My dad is 89 and still gets around well enough for a regular bathroom set-up, but I can imagine him needing something like this one day.

  5. Aimee Byrd says:

    I teach a women’s Bible study to mainly women who are old enough to be my grandparents. I never felt worthy when they asked me, and I have learned way more from them than they have from me, I’m sure. What a blessing it has been to be in such a humble position. It reminds me that I am dependent on God for the whole thing.

    • Tim says:

      What a great experience, Aimee. I remember my first year on the Elder board the chair was a wonderful old gentleman who was a founding member of the church decades before. At one point some of us got a bit animated in the discussion and he – calm and dignified – had just started to say something when I jumped right in and rolled right over the top of him. I soon felt horrible and when we took a break I went to him to apologize. I’ve never forgotten his response.

      “No, no, that’s all right. You had something to say that you felt strongly about.”

      That man, now passed on, taught me more about leadership than any one else ever has, whether in serving with them or through books or seminars or whatever. I wish I could say that I have always followed his example, but I think I can say that I’ve at least followed it on occasion.

  6. Jeannie says:

    The thing is, being of Scottish stock from the East Coast of Canada, I actually have heard of most of those groups — as well as Shanneygannock, the Irish Descendants, the Cottars, and my favourite, Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers.

    This isn’t a “Christian service” example per se, but: I did an undergrad degree in English, and the year after I graduated I was working part-time at the university doing research for a prof. Midway through that year the English department-head phoned me and said they had this evening course in essay-writing, and the instructor (who was apparently “quite a character”) had quit halfway through. She asked if I would teach the last 6 classes. I was 21 years old at the time. And for six Wednesday evenings, 3 hours each, I went in and taught a group of about 20 students (aged probably from about 25 to 70) about essay-writing, style, grammar, etc. We had such a good time and the students were so appreciative! Mind you, their standards weren’t that high: I think the fact that I came to class sober was a plus.

    Sometimes as a younger person you think “Sure, I can do that!” and when you get older you think of all the reasons you can’t — and you miss a great opportunity. So I suppose the key is to stay open, embrace opportunity, and if you sense God calling you, never assume you’re too old to learn or too young to teach!

  7. When I was 20 an older friend of mine asked me to teach piano lessons to a small group of children including her 8 yr old son. I hesitated. I wasn’t sure if I could. I didn’t feel qualified. My friend assured me that if I could teach her son, I could teach ANYBODY. She begged me to give it a try for a few weeks. So I started with three students. They were charming. We had a blast! My friend’s sweet freckled-faced son had a little crush on me. He was adorable.

    I started researching the best curriculum and placed myself under the tutelage of a master pianist.
    Within 2 months I had 40 students and a waiting list. For the next several years I had many wonderful adventures as a traveling piano teacher. Eventually one of my “piano moms” introduced me to my husband. Most of my students and their families came to our wedding. I still keep in touch with many of them. Spending time in their homes all those years greatly enriched my life. I’m really grateful to my friend for recognizing an ability in me that I didn’t realize I had!

  8. Music my brothers listened to constantly. The Levellers was one I enjoyed.

    Rob was a deacon in his church at 16 (he really shouldn’t have been though, he’ll say that). I was one at 26 in our church (youngest so far, though our new pastor just turned 28, and I could see him putting people as deacon who are in their early 20s if he felt they were prepared – which I’d be all for). I was scared when asked to be a deaconess. . .and when I was one for 2 years, I was treated like a child, so it was something I wish never happened now. We have no deacons currently since getting a full new staff and all our church members other than a few have left. If they ask me again, I’m declining. I don’t believe I am the right choice.

    I don’t think 29 is too young for the elder board at all. I also don’t think 35 is young to be a judge, but I don’t know the common age range for it.

    • Tim says:

      The average age for becoming a judge back then was early 40s and now (because of a change in the eligibility requirements) I’ve heard it has risen to the early 50s.

      Your experience as a deaconess sounds unfortunate, Victoria, but I hope you’ve found some blessings in it anyway. God moves through all ages of people, doesn’t he? John the Baptist even worshipped God while still in the womb!

  9. With age comes wisdom, however i believe god put each soul on this earth to teach us something or another:
    “He whose ear listens to the life-giving reproof Will dwell among the wise.”

    Proverbs 19:20

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