“Fulfilling God’s Plan for Our Aging Years”
Episode 47: Connectedness in the Elderly Community
Retirement does not have to mean isolation. When our church fails to address the needs of retired people, we can feel a lack of purpose and drive. However, in those moments, we must take our thoughts (and lives) captive and make them obedient to Christ! Hal and Randy talk about how to create a community of connectedness in your community as you finish well.
Dr Randy Hess: 0:09
Hi, everyone. Welcome back to finishing well, podcast, our podcast for the finishing well ministries. So, in case you don't know, our objective is to explore ways seniors can lead their lives well and more importantly, finish their lives. Well, in this podcast, we welcome people under 65, just as much and hope that you find something meaningful in it as well. My name is Randy Hess. And I'm pleased to be here again with my good friend, how habecker, the founder of finishing well, ministries. So how we've been talking about communication a little bit, but are we are we on that topic today?
Dr Hal Habecker: 0:54
Well, we're on communication as it has to do with building friendships. And if you don't want to talk to anybody, you don't have to worry about friends. That's, you know, but a friend, friends are God's gift to help us grow. And we don't want to be isolated. You know, as we age, we tend to slow down, everything changes. You know, in fact, in our workbook, on the six essentials, we have a deal where on every positive there is a negative. What is it that keeps us from building friendships? What is it that helps help helps keep us from communicating? What helps us limit our lives in a sense, how does Satan work against us? So this is the deal with what is God's plan for us. God's plan is for us to have strong friendships. I think about the question, Why did Jesus to choose 12 disciples? Well, he wanted friends. I mean, he didn't want to be a lone ranger. You know, I was a pastor, am I going to be a pastor? That is a lone ranger, or am I going to have friends? And I'm going to, am I going to be concerned about listening to other people speak into my life and helping me grow? Or do I want to kiss go through life in an isolated way? You know, Randy, you have that you've done a lot of thinking on this. And you have this concept of those of us who live in a vault mentality, where we just like to crawl into our little hole, our little man cave, our little vault, and we don't need to we don't need anybody
else. Well, yes, I, we've talked about that, before I, I hope people find that notion at least somewhat helpful. I'm not trying to say that they are stored in a vault or that they're locked away. But you know, what? I, I guess I'm combining that thought of the vault how with what people do to themselves, but also what our culture is done to them a little bit. And that is the culture, I think, is not opposed to people getting old. Because guess what, no matter what age you are, guess what's going to happen? You're going to get there. God willing, and it's a blessing from the Lord when you do. But our culture is an age just stick. I'm sorry, how I don't have the right term for that. But ageism is a part of our culture. And what I mean by ageism, is that our, our younger generations can say, hey, there are older people out there. I recognize them. I respect them. I love them. They're, they're fine. You know, I hope by and large, the vast majority of our culture in the United States feels that way. There are some I realized that feel like the older generation is, is the problem. But for those who do not see it that way. I think that they store us in a vault in this sense how that they want us to be comfortable. In our older age. They don't want us to be harmed. They want us to be respected in our older age. They don't want us to be fighting battles or having to just defend the fact that we're alive. But what they want us to do is sorrow be on display like in a museum. And the reason I'm saying on display, like in a museum is that they want us out of the way it's not that there's anything wrong with us. It's about I guess you'd say we've had our time how we've been, you know, we've had our our time in the sun. We've been in charge of stuff. We run some things in In this culture, supposedly our era, you know, when we were in charge of something, got through what however we got through it. But the younger generation says, it's my turn. Now, thank you very much. And I want you to move, please move on out of the way. Alright, let's talk about that just a second. How does moving out of the way mean? that I that I go to the vault, go go behind the display window, and just sit there in my rocking chair and let people walk by and look at me and say, Yeah, you're fine. And then go along and look at the next person. Cha cha cha, or does it mean that I go to a place where I'm still using every first faculty I've got, my head is not stopped thinking about stuff, my mind still works, or my heart is still alive and beating and caring for people. And therefore, I don't want to be, or put myself in some vault. That, however good that might be that I'm stored away, and I'm taken care of that I'm, that I'm fed and watered, you know, and given blankets, it, you know, I think the older generation says, Wait a minute, you know, yes, I am slower. I, you know, I might not do things at the lightning speed I used to, I might not want to tackle the breadth of challenges I used to. But you guess what, I'm still good for a day or two here in challenging just about anything. And I want to be known for that. And so please let me find the steps and stairways and keys out of the vault. Thank you very much. I want to be back in the running, to help people in this country, to help my friends to help my neighbors to help my church do better. And that's the challenge is restoring things to a place where seniors see themselves as still having vision, still having wisdom, still have having a confidence that I still can bring a good analysis to a problem and speak with love about it. Speak deeper, maybe than the younger generations about it. That's what, in my view, that's the problem above isolation, and the cultural desire to get us out of the way and put us in the ball. You know, it seems to me that that's the value of friendships, if I'm committed to bringing out other people, if I'm committed to bringing the value of friendships to my life, then I'm going to jump in and help people I'm going to share with them, I'm going to elicit from them what God wants. And I think the spirit of God would want us that idea to be generated inside of our own lives. I'll give you an illustration. Yesterday at lunch I had I visited an hour and a half with a 92 year old pastor. And he's he slowed down a lot. I mean, as you can imagine, he's had a whole life of ministry. But just sitting across the table from him, you could see a spark in his eye and interest. And what I'm doing, he was very interested in what I'm doing. I'm 20 years his his, his 20 years younger. He was very interested in me, and I'm very interested in him. I'm very interested in maximizing what God wants to do through his life. I think it's incredible. He has so much to offer. And he's doing it but our friendship there brought something to the surface that we can do it better together. And I think that's what friendships lead to a new sense of joy in our aging years, where we fulfill God's plan for our lives together with others. So Randy, I'd love for you to think through what is what are some of the barriers that keep us from developing these kinds of friendships. You mentioned, our culture kind of isolates us and helps thrust us into this museum kind of the year a nice old guy and I applaud you, but I don't want to interact you but there are other things that work against friendships in our aging. Talk about some of those with well, you know, Hey, how are you? Perhaps more than most? No, there are many different personality types out there. You've seen them come up to you and in your life in the church. You've seen him come up to you In this ministry, you've heard talking and many different stories. And so what you begin, if you're a person who pays attention at all, to other people, you recognize that some people are reticent to reach out. It, it doesn't mean that they don't like other people, that they, that they that they find that they have any kind of interpersonal problems with other people they don't. It's just that their nature is such that they're more comfortable in their own head, doing their own stuff. And we have a name for that is called introversion and introverts, you know, God bless them. They, they, they have many, many, many, many strengths that extroverts don't have. Introverts oftentimes, do come across as a serious minded, thoughtful, deep person who is considering all the angles and options on stuff. Maybe the extrovert doesn't come across exactly the same way. But the extrovert is the person who is always looking, you know, looking at who else can I talk to here? Who else can I reach out to? Who else can I have a visit with, no matter what the topic is, or no matter what the level of the seriousness of the conversation is, I just want to talk to somebody else and get to know them. Alright, so the internet goes, That's nuts. That's crazy. You know, you don't need to waste time doing that much work. And it's worked for them. But you know what, the introvert can do exactly the same. Can can behave exactly the same way, as the extrovert. The introvert just needs to energize a little bit ahead of it, and behind it, to get that work done. And so I think you will see some introverts who say, I, I think you're right, guys, I think finishing well is correct, that we do need those friendships. And they're good, of course, and I have my one friend, okay. Well, I don't have that friend anymore. But I had that friend for 25 years. And I'm going to look for a new 25 year friend, okay, that kind of thing. I'm not joking about this, I'm just saying that people are different. Okay. And because they're different, different personalities, some people can't hold themselves back. introversion doesn't necessarily go away when you age, it can lessen, give yourself a chance. If finding some other couples can make a difference, I think rather than just one person. I think there's other issues how though, I may just feel like I'm not worth somebody talking to. I don't have anything to offer, I don't have much to talk about, my life is completely boring. My life is completely, you know, all I do is sit and read the newspaper and watch. Whatever, on TV, you know, there's nothing interesting, that I can talk about. So people who have a feeling of low self worth, can say to themselves, gee, I'd love to, you know, I'd love to get to know other people, but they're not going to find me worthwhile to talk to. Or the way there's a lot of the older people that feel that younger people don't want to really get to know them. You know, a lot of boomers and people are now the greatest generation feel like millennials and Gen X people. They don't really care about older people, but that's not true. I mean, people value people crave relationships, people crave friendships, and it makes a huge, huge difference. So, if older people just got over that and say, you know, I need to find a new bridge to reach younger people or vice versa, you know, goes both ways. Yeah. And all these risk factors, I mean, excuse me, all these factors that are holding us back how are risk factors in my book, and that what I mean by that is, yes, there, there may there is there is likely something real inside you are that you see for yourself, that is holding back, that reaching out process. And it's a risk factor to you. It might be huge. Whereas to the extrovert, it's almost zero, okay. But to you, it's huge to reach out. Because if I reach out, and it turns out that this other person just blows me off, or doesn't pay any attention to me, yours, or acts like they don't like me, for some reason, oh, I won't be able to tolerate that. You see what I'm saying? It is a risk factor. But I think it's just going to take people having the courage after praying about it, having the courage to give it a shot. And then, if something doesn't go just right, pick yourself up off the ground and give it another shot. And keep trying press on as you say all the time. I think that's kind of what God wants us to do, to develop our friendships, even even at an elderly level. In addition to those that are more negative in terms of self concept and self worth, and introversion. There's other issues how one of them is the guy who says I you know what, I don't need anyone. It's kind of the opposite of a negative self concept. It's just, it's a self concept that I've got it made. I got a self made, I'm in charge. Yeah, if they want to, if they want to come crawling up to me, that's fine. You know, but I'm not about to reach out to somebody to try to develop a friendship. Are you kidding me? If it's a business deal, I might want to do it. But otherwise, no, thanks. So you get the tough guys out there. And I'm talking more about guys. Right now, I'm sorry to say then then women. I think women get over that issue, and find ways to reach out. But guys have a lot of trouble overcoming Eagle issues, a lot of trouble. So the rugged, shall we say the rugged, independent guy, the rugged, tough guy, he's not going to get he, he probably wouldn't even listen to somebody talking about, you know, you might want to develop some friendships. That is almost possibly a worthless topic to talk about. There's some people who just don't trust other people. They've had something in their background, something in the way they grew up, or they've been hurt something in the way they've talked, been taught by their parents, or something that has happened in their lives. Yes, that is that has really harmed them, or they've not gotten over the feelings and the hurt that came from some something. And so they don't have much trust for anybody. And getting somebody to open up to them or getting them to open up to somebody. They're always saying, hey, wait a minute, this person's got some angle, they're working on me. And I don't like it. And I'm not going to, I'm not going to tolerate it, I'm not going to pursue it. So you combine those that we've already talked about how with a couple other issues like arrogance, kind of an elitist attitude that I'm better than other people. And you flip the coin over on that one, I'd say people always trying to take advantage of me because I know so much. My mind is so fertile, and they're just, you know, all they want to do is take from me, nobody's going to give me anything. And you learn some of that, by the way. I think in the business world, you have learned for guys, maybe some women, that people are takers, and somebody is reaching out to me, there's an angle to it that they're taking. So I am too cautious about that. And finally, there's, um, I could be seen as seeing myself as a really serious person. I see everybody else is pretty. They're not interested in talking about things at a level than I am. The seriousness I want them to have. But two topics there. Seems like everybody's out for a cocktail party, and then all they want to do is joke around. They're pretty lightweight. And that just turns me off. So you get that attitude. There's others how but I'll stop at that. Just say I'm sorry if you feel like you fit in one of these categories. And I just asked you not to worry about it, but to take advantage of the strengths you have, go ahead and reach out to somebody but take advantage of your strengths. Use them, use them in the conversation. That's why we put younger and older generations together tried to do that how in I've tried to do that in churches, is because each can learn from the other. It's not all about the younger generation coming and going. I've got my notebook open, sir, start talking. Because you're old. It's not that way at all. Every senior person I've ever bumped into or put together with a younger generation, Male. Male, the male has said, I've learned as much from the younger guy, as he's learned from me. It's just the way it works. So I asked you to open your mind up and give it a chance. It'll work. And we support the idea of you growing your relationships and your friendships, to make your life one where you can feel as though you are finishing well. That's my story. How on the, on the challenges of it. And I know you've seen a bunch of those. That's good. Randy. I think of two things just in wrapping this up. You know, one is, as I read the scriptures, I'm confronted and led again and again by the value of others. You I think a Moses, God wanted him to lead the people out of Israel, he says, I can't talk God he's looking for excuse to God says I'm gonna send your brother with you. He can talk, he can talk all day long. So the two of you together are gonna develop a friendship in leading my people. I mean, God always has other people there for us. There are no Lone Ranger's in the body of Christ, all the cells work together, we all need each other. So I keep coming. Face to face with that truth in the Word of God. So the word of God encourages me to keep developing friendships, whatever kind of person I am. And then the second thing I think about is the importance of serving others in the body of Christ. Jesus came as a servant, he said, I'm not come to be served, but to serve and give my life, some for many. So as a Christian, who is a follower of Jesus, I hear his words speak to me every day, how you're not in it for yourself, who can you serve? Who can you listen to? Who can you encourage? Who can you build a friendship with? And that is always something that's in front of us. And I need to be open to that. I think of what is it that God wants to do through me, he wants me to be led of the Spirit of God, I think of Romans 814 is one of my key verses, those who are led by the Spirit, or the sons of God. So in this whole arena of developing friendships and community, what is the spirit want to do in me? How does he want to use me? Who Who do I encourage? Who do I listen to? Who do I value? Who is new that God wants to bring into my life? How do I grow in my skills? And that's all true whatever age we are, so this is what we're trying to do fulfilling God's plan for our aging years. His plan is to use us to encourage us to to value us and to make us a blessing to others so that's what this whole thing about is in friendships it's understanding how God values us how we should value ourselves and follow His Spirit in been a bright light to others in the world when you say that's awesome well that's that's what we're about and finishing well ministries how to live well and how to finish well how to use our lives for him. You can find other number of other podcasts that finish well ministries dot O R G forward slash podcasts via find a list there, they're even printed out, you can read them. So you can scan our history and we'd love to hear from you. You have an idea of something you want us to present or interact with. We'd love to hear from you. But May God bless you. And we're praying that our convoy of aging people would increase and be more significant this day than ever before. Thanks and have a blessed day.