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Why the GARBC Needs Old People

Two weeks ago, we explored on The Quest why the GARBC needs young people. It seems only natural that we look at the topic in the other direction.

When seeking counsel and wisdom, many young pastors in the GARBC look up to godly men who have been there before. These “older” men have experience and time on their side, and they are able to give sound advice and wisdom for us in the younger generations. (See Proverbs 11:14 and 19:20.)

God has given us a Biblical precedent for seeking wise counsel, and it takes place in 1 Kings 12. Rehoboam, son of King Solomon, is facing a bit of a dilemma. The end of Solomon’s reign did not sit well with the people. They came to Rehoboam with a request to lighten some of the burdens that Solomon had placed on them. They even added an incentive: do this and we will serve you. He then asked for three days to respond and seeks counsel:

Then King Rehoboam took counsel with the old men, who had stood before Solomon his father while he was yet alive, saying, “How do you advise me to answer this people?” And they said to him, “If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever” (emphasis added).

These “old men” served under Solomon, probably the wisest person outside of Christ to ever walk the earth. Their counsel would be sound, right?

Not so for Rehoboam. Let’s read on:

But he abandoned the counsel that the old men gave him and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him and stood before him. And he said to them, “What do you advise that we answer this people who have said to me, ‘Lighten the yoke that your father put on us’?” And the young men who had grown up with him said to him, “Thus shall you speak to this people who said to you, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you lighten it for us,’ thus shall you say to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s thighs. And now, whereas my father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’ ”

The king decides to seek the counsel of his buddies. They respond with a different option: Hey, Rehoboam, come down on the people harder—and threaten them with it.

Which advice did he follow? Rehoboam came before the people and shared exactly what his friends told him to do. The people’s response? Forget this guy. Let’s start our own kingdom. Hence, the nation splits.

Certainly there are times when one can seek wisdom from his peers, but in this case it doesn’t seem like the king was willing to “be a servant to this people” and to “speak good words to them.” That type of response involved work. His friends gave him the easy way out, which eventually caused him trouble.

The older men had been there before. They had seen the rise and fall of Solomon. Certainly some of Solomon’s wisdom had rubbed off on them. Today the same is true. Many of our elder pastors and leaders have experienced a wide range of problems and have learned from them Biblically.

How do we learn from those leaders whose gray hair is their splendor (Proverbs 20:29)?

Just ask.

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