Wisdom from the Older Generation

Recently, I sat around the table with about twenty seasoned men from our church who meet every Monday. Most of them are now retired and in their seventies or eighties. I was interested in picking their brains about life and what they have learned and experienced throughout the years. I am convinced that many in the younger generations do not take the time to soak up wisdom from those who now have the advantage of reflecting back upon their life. They have fought the battles, learned the lessons, and have the scars and character to show it.

My question to them was simple and straightforward: “What is your best life advice for the next generation and do you have any regrets?” Here are some of the things that were shared:

“Seek God first and develop a spiritual life at a young age. Don’t work too hard at the expense of your family. Find the sacred balance between work and family. Enjoy every stage of life as it comes because it goes by all too quickly and you can’t turn back the clock. Be kind to everyone because kindness is a form of love. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Make faith a priority in your marriage and family life. Be proud but not prideful, confident but not arrogant. Maturity comes with years. Disappointment is inevitable. Be gentle and compassionate. Try to become somebody that you yourself will admire. Be optimistic and positive. Don’t dwell too much on the past which you cannot change. Learn to enjoy what you’re doing so you never have to work a day in your life. Guard your reputation and don’t compromise your character. Stay focused on meaningful objectives and live with the end in mind. Beware of seeking instant gratification.
Many of the things worth doing take a long and sustained effort. Lead by example. Don’t ask others to do things you wouldn’t do. Be humble and keep your ego in check. Learn to live within your means. Money is not the answer to everything. Remember that relationships matter most so learn to nurture them and invest in them. Take nothing for granted and beware of developing an entitlement mindset. Spend quality time with your children because they will grow up fast. Carve out regular time to nurture the soul. Travel with your family whenever possible to make memories that will last forever. Give it your all, whether at work or at home. Follow the example of Christ. Take care of your health at a young age because it only gets more challenging. Marry somebody who can put you in your place whenever necessary. Cultivate friendships that will last a life time. Tell the truth, even when it’s hard and inconvenient. Be true to yourself and be the same person no matter who you might be around. Love others even when they’ve hurt you, and don’t forget the importance of forgiveness and letting things go. Approach every day as a gift because we never know about tomorrow. Don’t worry constantly and needlessly. Trust that things will turn out Ok, even if it’s not what you had planned.”

I’m deeply grateful to these men for their wisdom and insight. My hope and prayer is that younger generations will continue to learn and gain wisdom from those who have gone before us.