A 63-year study found that our personalities change drastically over our lifetimes. It “revealed that our personality changes so much from youth to old age, on paper, you might look like a completely different person from when you were 14 and 77 years old.” Most of us probably understood this without a study to back it up – we all expect to change as we grow older. Some get better – others get worse. We know this from our own experiences.
The Christian life is all about change. We are changed from sinners to saints, from death to life, from lost to found. We are made new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). We are to “grow in grace” (2 Peter 3:18). We are to become more and more like our Master (2 Cor. 3:18).
Yet not all changes are positive as we grow older. Sometimes, good qualities fade away and are replaced by lukewarmness, compromise, or error. Zeal and courage dissipate. Convictions wane and then are sold at garage sale prices, to be replaced by new beliefs and practices. Fundamentalists become moderates, and moderates become liberals. In the words of one preacher now in heaven, “Some of you haven’t mellowed – you’ve yellowed!”
The blessed man is like a tree PLANTED. A tree grows where it is planted. It changes but does not move from its position. It grows UPWARD and OUTWARD but stays where it is ROOTED.
Yes, opinions can change as we get older and wiser. One preacher, who had a long ministry of over 50 years, was reprimanded by a younger man. “Thirty years ago you said _______!” As though he was a pope who had spoken ex cathedra! The older preacher said, “Well, son, some people grow and some don’t!”
Personalities change and often should. Rough edges are worn away, people skills grow, and the gentler aspects of the Christian life become more developed. An increasing knowledge and experience should help to make us better people.
However, Bible convictions do not change because the Bible does not change. The convictions you once found there are still there. They may not be comfortable today, but they are still there. They may hurt your church growth in a lukewarm age but they are still there. They may make you seem to be an “oddball” but they are still there.
Grow UP and OUT but keep your roots in the Word of God.
The preacher should always seek to grow and improve as God’s messenger and the pastor of God’s flock – there is always room for growth! But if our ministries are radically different from one decade to the next, going from staunchly conservative to liberally contemporary, we must ask – were we planted in Bible truth, or just tumbling along with the winds of an ever changing culture? Were we anchored to truth or just bobbing along in the currents?
Parents have to battle change. Too often, we are strong when our children are small and then begin to waffle and waver when they get older. We hold to strong beliefs when our children are little and easily led, and begin changing everything when they become teenagers. We are scared of our kids! Young people need consistent parents – parents who grow, who are rooted to something solid and eternal, not parents who give in when pushed by their teens.
It is a constant battle to grow without changing – to stay in one place, growing upward and outward while staying firmly rooted to the scriptures. Yet this is the place of blessing, security, and fruitfulness.
Thank you for reading. God bless.