Satchel Paige was 59 years old in 1965 when he pitched three innings for the Kansas City Athletics, becoming the oldest player in Major League Baseball. He had this to say about age: “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” (Satchel Paige). 9 July 2008. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satchel_Paige). That is a profound statement worth careful consideration.
No one has the authority to draw an age line and decide that when you cross that line, you are now old and must retire. The rest of your years will have to be spent just idling away time, day after day. You have been mothballed. Just pullover, park the bus, and wait to die. What a miserable, erroneous, false philosophy!
You have surely heard the old adage that “you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.” If you accept this premise as fact, you’ll believe that as you get older, not only will you start to “lose it,” you will not be able to learn anything new anymore.
However, it has now been clearly established that old dogs readily learn new things and new tricks with proper care and training. Experts in the field of dog training often take abandoned and older dogs, sometimes right out of the dog pounds, and train them to perform highly–skilled and valuable duties, such as police dogs, sheep dogs and guide dogs for the blind.
It has also been undeniably established that some of the greatest accomplishments in history are performed by people later in life. Often, they make the very best employees because of diligence, experience, and maturity which they have acquired over many years of service. In his book How to Manage for Tomorrow, Engene J. Benge says, “A study was made of 400 noted men over the last few centuries and from many lines of activity. Their greatest work or achievements were listed and dated. The ages between 60 and 70 gave birth to 35% of the world’s greatest achievements, between 70 and 80, 23%, and in the years after 80, 6%. In other words, 64% of the great accomplishments of the world have been brought about by men who have past their 60th birthday” (Clemprint Inc. “Am I Too Old?” Better Work Supervisor. 21 Feb. 1977: 2). Similar findings hold true for women as well.
The most important part of this whole question of aging is attitude—how you think. Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (NKJV). If you start thinking old and limiting your possibilities, you will start to turn inward and grow old long before you should. In other words, at sixty you can be a young sixty or an old sixty. There is no question that aging will mean that we will have to slow down and spread out our work and our plans over a longer period of time. It will require that we gradually cut back on what and how much we do. But we can and should stay active and fully engaged in life within our capabilities. That is the way God designed us. This is what He wants us to do.
Colonel Harland Sanders started the famous “Kentucky Fried Chicken” franchises when he was 66 years old. He continued leading that world–girdling organization well into his advanced years. Here is what he said, “Work never hurt anyone….More people rust out than wear out. But not me. I will…[never]…rust out.” And true to his word, he did not rust out! He stayed active all of his life.
Contrary to the popular view that you cannot grow new brain cells, researchers are finding that with vigorous use and exercise of the mind, you actually can grow more cells in the brain by learning and doing new things.
A lady that my wife and I met a few years ago said she had always wanted to learn to play the guitar, but she was so busy she did not have time to do that. But when she turned 60 or so, she did have the time, so she bought a guitar. She went to an instructor and before long the instructor told her, “I’ve taught you all I can teach you. You need to go to a more advanced teacher,” which she did. Now, well into her 70s, she thoroughly enjoys playing the guitar after learning how later in life.
Do something new that you have never done before. Read new types of books that are thought–provoking, that require concentration. Listen to new types of good music. Develop new skills. You hear quite often about older people getting their diplomas from high school or even from college. Think of something you have always wanted to do but never got around to. Maybe you want to travel somewhere, learn to play golf, tennis or chess, to do woodwork, sew, cook or operate a computer.
I know of an individual who raised five children and was very busy until she got older. She and her husband were always fully engaged in doing all kinds of things. Art was something she always wanted to try her hand at, but never could find the time. After “retiring,” she had time on her hands so she decided she would give it a whirl! She soon discovered that she had real talent, skill, and ability in that area. Instead of wallowing around in self pity for herself, she got oil and canvas and brushes, and started turning out wonderful artwork to her great surprise and to the delight of many others with whom she shared her work!
People often discover they can do something they had no idea they could do just because they had never tried doing it. Even if they can’t do it, they are trying and that is the point!
My mother lived a very full life. She and my father were happily married for 55 years. They raised nine children through some pretty rough economic times. At age 93, with some time on her hands, she decided to start her own business partnered with one of my sisters. They put a little ad in the newspaper and started B & B Quilting. She quilted by hand, including threading the needle herself! Soon they had more business than they could handle, making a very tidy profit and having a lot of fun all the way until her death at age 97.
What we ought to do, no matter what our age, is make plans for what we are going to do each day, each week, each month, each year. We do not have to put ourselves under a lot of pressure, but a little pressure is good. We can be building friendships—new friendships, good friendships. We need to make sure that we are cultivating the attitude of give, of thinking outwardly, of serving others because, regardless of age, “it is much more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
Notice John 10:10: “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” This verse is not age specific. It applies to anybody at any age, with any capabilities, including those who are getting older. But they have to want it and then share it with others.
Another scripture that is not age specific is found in Ecclesiastes 9:10: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” Do it with your might. Put everything you have into it, and apply yourself the best you can. It may be a little harder and you may need to take more time. You may be a little slower at it, but reach for excellence. Whatever you decide to do and whatever you want to get involved in, don’t settle for mediocrity in carrying out the plan, the project, or the activity.
Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong led God’s Church for 54 years. When he died at age 93, he was still carrying out leadership duties, including writing and speaking. So if he and all of these other happy and successful people can lead active, productive lives, full of hustle and bustle all the way to the end—we should all be inspired to realize we can as well!
We all have different talents, abilities, interests and experiences. The main thing is to be fully engaged in life, within our health condition and within our age. We must keep our minds active and our plans going. Think big and think future. Think outward and give and serve. Grow. Learn and do new things in addition to the old familiar comfortable ones. Add new understanding, experiences and knowledge. We should continue to learn until we draw our last breath, but this takes intellectual curiosity and the burning desire to learn and grow, give and share.
Robert Browning said something that should give us pause. He said, “Grow old along with me the best is yet to be.” That certainly is possible if we will do our part and ask God to help us. The pace of life will change, but the fabric of our lives will get stronger and richer with each passing year.
To repeat Satchel Paige, “How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?” The answer: not nearly as old as you are told you are, if you will broaden your horizons, set realistic goals, get in gear and start stretching further and further toward your full potential at any age!
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