Never grow up

By Gerry Lewis | Published Wednesday, March 14, 2018

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I don’t want to grow up.

“Growing older is mandatory. Growing up is optional.”

My dear friend, Al, who has since graduated to heaven, used to include that quote in his email signature.

I think he intended it to be a reminder that you don’t have to get old while growing older and to keep a childlike sense of wonder and fun throughout your life.

If ever a person took that approach to life, it was Al.

He was ahead of the game when it came to digital photography and photoshop. He once took a picture of me holding a church member’s new baby boy. When he gave me a copy of the picture, I was holding a cartoon Scooby-Doo character. That’s no biggie now, but that little baby is about to graduate from high school.

In chronicling a particular church event, he once “accidentally” got a photo of someone’s backside. Her mock indignation resulted in at least one photo of her backside in every church event from that day forward.

Al got older, but he never grew up.

Now that I often get the senior discount and Grandpa has become my favorite name, I tend to spend more time thinking about legacy than I do about accomplishment. I have reached the age where it is obvious, sometimes painfully so, that I cannot do or produce all that I could just a few years ago. If I allow myself to measure my value on that basis, I will simply get old.

But I also know that if I do this aging thing right, continuing to learn and to be amazed while sharing and championing the amazement with childlike wonder, my influence can actually increase as my production decreases.

The generations following may not be impressed with everything I know, but they can be inspired by what and how I’m still learning and how I want to share that learning with them (rather than just telling them what I know). And if I can inspire them, I can also empower them.

I know my life matters to God and I want them to know that their lives matter to God. My challenge is to tell them that in the most effective and attractive ways possible.

“O God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood, and I constantly tell others about the wonderful things you do. Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God. Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me.” (Psalm 71:17-18, NLT)

I’m not sure I want to grow up if growing up means nothing more than getting old. But if I can share the amazing stories while still being amazed by them, I’m all in!

So, my fellow life explorers, how will you choose to expand your influence today? How will you celebrate the reality that our lives matter to God? How will you invite others along on your journey?

Dr. Gerry Lewis, author, blogger, church consultant and leadership coach, serves as executive director of the Harvest Baptist Association in Decatur.

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