I was thirty one years old when I began my first job in private practice. In the hospital laboratory, a young man was assigned to be one of my assistants. Possessing an affable and gregarious nature, he and I instantly bonded. One morning when I walked into the lab, the radio was blaring. “Cool!” I said, nodding to the beat.
He looked up and smiled and asked, “Dr. S. What kind of music do you listen to?”
“Oh, lots of music. I love jazz but I guess you mean pop and rock music?”
“I like groups like the Eagles, Earth, Wind, and Fire, Chicago, and the Beatles.”
Without missing a beat, he proclaimed, “Oh, you listen to the oldies! You’re old, Dr. S!”
I was amused by his observation. Only ten years separated us, but it may as well have been fifty. I didn’t look much older than him, but in his mind, I was old! It was the first time in my career that I was addressed as old!
For most of my early career, I was blessed with a youthful appearance. However, as a physician, this sometimes led to authority and credibility issues. From interacting with patients, other physicians, or my employees, my youthful appearance occasionally led to concerns whether I was experienced or mature enough to handle my responsibilities, and understandably, their care. At times I was quite frustrated but my former partner, who was also youthful in appearance but my senior by twelve years, jocularly advised me, “You’re just not old enough to appreciate the comment!”
Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
1 Timothy 4:12 (ESV)
Timothy was a young pastor and protege of the Apostle Paul. Apparently, he, too, faced a similar issue, needing to command respect from his congregation and peers because of his age and presumably youthful appearance. Wisely, the Apostle Paul advised him to keep his eyes focused upon his mission and dedicate his efforts to honoring God, setting a godly example to others by his behavior.
Now, twenty five years later, I am showing my age and I am grateful-not so much about growing old, but thankful, that by God’s mercy and grace, He has given me the opportunity to repent and return to fellowship with Him, after turning my back on Him for so many years. He has allowed me to live long enough to be blessed with a wife and family.
The Apostle Paul’s advice reminds me that it is not my physical age but my spiritual maturity that truly matters. There is no substitute and God has shown me that I need to remain focused on the eternal and not the ephemeral.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.