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  • Shawn Thornton

I'm Getting More Splendor Daily

Tuesday - October 20th

Scripture to Read Today: Proverbs 20:1-30


The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old.

Proverbs 20:29

For most of my life adult life, most people guessed my age to be way younger than I was at the time. When I was 30 years old, I pastored a fairly sizable church, and people would literally guess me to be about 22-24 years of age. The gap was not always 6-8 years, but people legitimately were shocked to hear my age. It happened to me from high school till I was about 40 years of age.

Conversations, when I was a Senior Pastor in my thirties, would go something like this:

"You are the pastor of the big church out on Corridor G?" Corridor G was a highway in Charleston, West Virginia, and the church I pastored at the time, Bible Center Church, was a noticeable presence on the Corridor. My response would affirm their question. That inevitably led to a question about how someone so young looking could pastor such a significant church. Generally, when I told them my age, it then made sense to them.

I will never forget two moments that became milestones in recognizing that I was aging. The first occurred when I was 41 and still lived in Charleston. My regular stylist who cut my hair, Brenda, worked in a shop directly across from the church. She was a Christian who attended another church. We often talked about how things were going in our lives and our respective churches. A sweet little old lady overheard our conversation and asked, "Excuse me, are you the pastor across the street at that big church?" "Yes, I am," I replied.

In her response, she asked about my age and how such a young man could serve as pastor there. I asked her how old she thought I was. At age 41, I thought she would guess me to be about 35. "40 to 42," She blurted back without taking a second to think about it. For the first time in my life (and it would not be the last), someone guessed my age exactly.

I had to know. So, I asked her, "Ma'am, can I ask you what caused you to guess my exact age - most people guess I am about five years younger than I am." She started to describe the crow's feet around my eyes, the dark circles under my eyes, and some wrinkles on my forehead. She added, "Your blond hair isn't fooling me; I can see the grey in it, especially on the sides around your ears."

I asked. I regretted that I had.

Fast forward to the summer of 2016; I was pastoring in California by that point. I went to the Jockey store to buy some T-shirts. It happened to be on a Tuesday. After I handed the clerk my credit card, he wanted to check my license. As he studied it, he said, "Today is Senior Citizen Tuesday, so you get a 10% discount on the T-shirts." I couldn't figure out what he was saying. "Oh, no, I can't get the discount. I am not a senior citizen."

He indicated that the discount started at 50 years of age. I pushed back again. I said, well, I don't turn 50 for five months. He indicated that they only look at the year, not the actual date of your birthday. He then read the look on my face and said, "No worries, I don't need to give that to you. No worries." But, I said the words I thought I would not say for at least a decade (it was, after all, a 10% discount), "I will take the Senior Citizen Discount."

There are many more stories of the incremental steps in my coming to grips with the fact that I am no longer the surprisingly young pastor, and I am heading toward the era of life when I will be the remarkably old pastor. But, the Bible indicates that my gray hair is a sign of wisdom and experience. Proverbs 20:29 says, "The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old." So, I'm getting splendor more and more every day.

Youth has the advantage of energy, strength, and passion, but God tells us that those with gray hair have some real-life wisdom to share. The Apostle Paul taught the young pastor Timothy the value of older men discipling younger men and older women discipling younger women.

If you have some crows feet around your eyes and occasionally get a senior's discount, recognize the gift of wisdom that life experience should have brought you. If you are younger, remember, and use the strength God has given you. Also, lean into relationships you have with grandparents, parents, relatives, and fellow members of the Body of Christ who are older than you. Learn from their successes and mistakes.

Godly gray-haired people are gifts of experiential wisdom to the next generation!


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