Who Will Step Up?

Let’s face it, everyone is getting older… every day! In the big picture, that’s really not a problem – it is simply life. So why do I mention it?

For ten years of my life I was a member of LIONS International. When I first joined, in my mid to late twenties, I was among the youngest members. Most of the members were the men who had formed the club when they were in their mid to late twenties. They were all twenty to thirty years older than I. My ten year membership began in 1973 and ended in 1983. I would guess that many of the men with whom I was associated have passed on.

A year or so ago a good friend invited me to join another service club. I went to a couple of meetings and, once again, found myself to be among the younger people in attendance. I was sixty-five at the time.

My bride and I are very active at our church. I serve on the Church Council, the Community Outreach team, the Gift Card committee, and a musical group that entertains at senior living facilities. Over the years I have also sung in the Chancel Choir.

On the Church Council, I am one of the older members. I’d guess that the majority of the Council members are forty and older. We have two members who are most likely in their late twenties or early thirties.

The church’s Chancel Choir is made up of some wonderful singers… most of whom are in their fifties and older. Our Community Outreach team is also made up predominantly of senior citizens.

Recently our Pastor announced that the bulk of our financial support comes from the senior members of our congregation. I have to admit that he rubbed me the wrong way when he said we need to get our senior members to include the church in our wills.

What we need to do is find a way to get young people to step up and take their rightful place in society.

I’ve heard all the excuses. We have young children involved in numerous activities and don’t have the time nor the money to do volunteer work. Strange, when I first joined the LIONS club, I had young children involved in various activities. And I wasn’t a parent who simply dropped the children off so I could run off and do my own thing.

I sat through many practices and rehearsals. My children weren’t in scouting programs; they were in the YMCA Indian Guides. As the father, I had to attend all functions with them. I was glad to do it. As for my LIONS activities, whenever possible, I took my children with me.

I can understand monetary impediments. I don’t buy “We don’t have the time.”

I know older folks who have trouble finding the time for some activities, but would never even be late to the activities that are near and dear to their hearts. It’s a matter of setting priorities.

If a person can find the time to watch every episode of “American Idol”, he or she can find the time to attend a weekly or monthly meeting and spend an occasional Saturday afternoon helping to raise money for a worthwhile charity.

Let’s face the reality of the situation. When the “older” folks who are keeping the service organizations and churches in business die off, the younger folks will have to step up and replace them, or the institutions will die along with their members.

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2 Responses to Who Will Step Up?

  1. Robb says:

    The problem here, Jim, is that you appear to be an exception to the rule. Most “senior” church members really don’t want young people to step into leadership positions. If they do, they often want them to maintain the status quo. One blog’s author put it this way: “Many of our congregations are led by informal juntas of empty nesters and retired people which sabotage every step taken to try to create a young-adult-friendly environment, young adults who tend to have babies, by the way.” Sadly, I’ve seen it one too many times in congregations.

    As far as the time issue goes, I think people of every age group in our culture really need to reassess their priorities.

    • jimsjourney says:

      Now that you mention it, I have seen older folks make things very difficult for young volunteers. It took me a while to learn that just because it isn’t the way I would do it, it isn’t wrong. If a leader wants to maintain a good group of volunteers, he or she must let them do it their way. As long as the correct results are attained, everything is fine.

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