Surround & Share

When we planted our church in 1997, I was in third grade. For several years, there weren’t really any other church kids who were exactly my age. In fact, it was kind of a big deal if there was someone who was within three years of my age. Sometimes, albeit rarely, I’d be the only kid in my Sunday School class.

Many people would ask if it bothered me to be the “lone ranger.” I’m not going to flower it up and say that it never bothered me because sometimes it really did. However, looking back on it I believe this was a blessing in disguise.

This presents two unique opportunities: growing close to people who are both older than you and younger than you. (Really? Profound, Sarah Caroline. Please–tell me more.)

My Sunday School class is made up of ladies of all ages and from all walks of life–and, staying consistent with the most of the rest of my life, I’m the only one my age. Today we were a little down in attendance and there were 5 of us total–3 who together have been married for a total of probably 130 years, another single lady who is just a few years younger than my mom, and myself (a 25 year-old single working girl). I’m consistently the youngest and least experienced.

Being surrounded by older, wiser, more experienced sisters in this class has been so wonderful. It is very important to have seasoned Christians around you whom you interact with on a regular basis in order to learn from them and let their wisdom be infused into your life. This morning, the three married ladies in my class started talking about quirks in their marriages and how they’ve grown into a comfortable love with their spouses over the years with “built-in forgiveness.” Hearing their sweet, humorous, totally real stories made me appreciate all they have been through and learned already, and it also made me hopeful for what I may one day get to also experience.

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On the flip-side, having younger friends provides many rich teaching opportunities. For many years I brushed off the “older women teaching the younger women” verse because I was not “old.” BUT over the past few years, I’ve realized there are girls younger than me that God has placed in my sphere of influence. What a privilege to have the opportunity to mentor them and teach them. This is something I view as a huge responsibility. (FYI–I have really felt like an old lady since my last birthday, making this responsibility feel even more weighty.) One way I desire to invest in younger girls is by sharing myself–giving of my time, my resources, and my very self–not for my benefit, but for theirs–taking advantage of every little opportunity to make Jesus bigger in their eyes.

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So, being affectionately desirous of you,
we were ready to share with you
not only the gospel of God
but also our own selves,
because you had become very dear to us.
{1 Thessalonians 2:8}

So, I encourage you to do two things:
1) Surround yourself with people who are older than you who will consistently pour wisdom into your life and remind you of God’s faithfulness.
2) Share yourself with people younger than you who you can pour your life into, set an example for, and point to Jesus.

It’s important to note that the more you surround yourself with seasoned older people, the more you’ll have to share with the younger people.

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
{Proverbs 27:17}

To all the older ones who surround me: thank you. You have no idea how much you encourage me, spur me on to love and good deeds, and give me hope.

To all the younger ones who I get to share myself with: thank you. It is overwhelming to think that God has given me both the responsibility and privilege of passing His Gospel to you and investing in you.

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