It happened again this past Friday. No, I didn’t almost decapitate myself on a bathroom stall coat-hook. No, my wife didn’t almost shoot me. What happened is far more common; on average it happens about once every week. I had conversation about my age. It seems that other people are able to avoid conversations like this. Not me. My questioner this time was the 27-year-old son of a co-worker. He asked me the question that I get again and again, “How old are you?” I gave him my standard reply, “How old do you think I am?”
There is nothing at all wrong with being 48; it is a fine age. I have known some people this age who are active, healthy, and who seem much younger than me. Honestly, I’ve known some 80-year-olds who seem much younger than me, too. The only problem with being seen as a 48-year-old is that I am 15 years younger than this. That’s right, I’m 33.
People have been thinking I am older than what I really am most of my life. I remember being in Kindergarten and a lunch lady trying to charge me extra because she thought I was in first grade. I remember hearing questions concerning my eligibility to play sports in a particular age classification because I looked older than the other kids. I remember talking to a pulpit search committee when I was 26 and having some of the members think that I was 35.
This is something I will probably deal with until my age catches up with my looks. Here are a few reasons why:
1. My hair. I was born with jet black hair, but I have no idea why it was called jet black. Wonder Woman has an invisible jet, but I have never seen a black jet. Anyway, I received my first gray hair when I was 8-years-old and had a few more pop up in high school. The gray hair revolution really picked up steam when I became a pastor, started a new job, bought a house, and got married within a four-month span. Now my hair would best be described as salt-and-pepper, although it has yet to start a rap career.
2. My size. I can’t quite get a couple of my kids to understand that being the biggest does not always mean you are the oldest. Methuselah wasn’t 57 feet tall. Being tall doesn’t mean you are older than everybody else. It also doesn’t mean you are strong and enjoy helping people move.
3. My clothes. I have never styled and if my memory is correct I have also never profiled. Generally speaking, I dress like a nursing home resident.
4. My skin. It seems to be a rarity for someone of my generation not to have any tattoos. It’s not that I am against them, it’s that I have a severe aversion to pain. Does this make me a pansy? Probably. I’m okay with that.
5. My kids. People seem to assume that having 5 kids means I am at least 40. If we had spaced our kids out a little bit, this might be the case. Instead, we decided to take the fast track a few years ago and go from 1 to 4 within five months. Having a lot of kids does not mean you’re old, it just means you often feel old.
I don’t mind looking older than I really am; it has actually been a blessing, especially in ministry. It seems that people have more respect for older pastors, even though this should not necessarily be the case.
Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers,
in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
1 Timothy 4:12
Spiritual maturity does not come with age; it comes with walking by faith and not by sight on a continual basis. Are there older folks who are spiritually mature? Yes. Are there younger folks with this same quality? Absolutely. Do I put too many questions in one paragraph that I give one word answers to? Sometimes.
No matter how old I am or how old I look I know that God is still working to make me more like Christ. My gray hair may make me look older, but it is His work in me that will give me the maturity that I really desire.
(Do you look older or younger than you really are? Why? What are your thoughts on spiritual maturity? Share away!)