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"Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days." Proverbs 20:11. "The best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person." Andy Rooney. Growing up in Harlem, New York in the fifties and sixties, I and my siblings were instilled with many values (I thought they were rules at the time). One of these values was to respect my elders. Since everyone appeared to be older than me, I learned to respect everyone. But, especially older (elderly) people. What amazes me now is that we were never given a reason to show such honor, but we obeyed. It was a different time. Children looked to their parents to guide them through life and so they followed the directives of their parents without question. Of course if you did not follow their directives, there were consequences, and we knew what they were. Let me clarify, we listened out of love and respect, but we were keenly aware of what would happen if we did not. The truth is we understood even in our youthful state that what they were telling us was the right thing to do. Society even backed them up. Back then it was okay to quote the bible and to mention God and the Ten Commandments.

As the years progressed, I came to appreciate the wisdom they (my elders) were passing along as a valuable key to living a productive life. We were not handed everything all at once, just enough to give us pause as to why we were to conduct ourselves in a given manner. The wisdom that we received was sound and had roots in the "good book." What we did not realize is that our parents knew that it would take a while (years) to grasp the pearls of wisdom being set before their children. This wisdom would be life-sustaining and would be a source of inspiration and strength for a lifetime. "Raise up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6.

A problem of our current time, at least in my opinion, is that our elders have not taken their rightful place, as evidenced by the outcomes of poor decisions made on the part of the young and the old. It is especially devastating when young people make a mess of their life because they have failed to follow wise counsel. sometimes they never recover from their poor choices and the negative impact is generational. Society needs to pitch in more. "It is a good society that educate young people to respect its role model." Ahmed Mayuouf. It is understandable that elders or anyone else for that matter, do not want to face the wrath, disrespect or maybe even the bodily harm that may come from speaking up or out, even with good intentions. This generation is not as receptive to wisdom as were previous generations. They tend to feel that everyone should do as he or she feels. I am not knocking anyone or their views, but it is unfortunate because wise counsel is just what we need.

My grandmother (I often refer to her. I did not realize that she was so wise until many years later), told me that: "If you do not listen, you will feel it." Of course, at the time, I was not sure of what she meant. Translation: If you do not listen to and follow sound (wise) advice, you will more than likely make unwise/unhealthy choices that could ruin or end your life. That you will feel. My grandmother did not pull any punches. She was straight with you. She was also an elder in the church (First Lady, the wife of the pastor; Rev. James Jackman, and an evangelist). "The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching." 1Timothy 5:17.

I am delighted that I do not have to wonder about not receving wisdom growing up because I had been blessed with God-fearing, wise parents and grandparents and elders in the church; and wonderful leaders, elders and role models in my secular life. Lest I come across as having it all together, I too have faced the stubbornness and stiff-necked attitude of this new generation/s. I have children (Millenials, Generation Y) and grandchildren. Additionally, I have spent a large portion (33 years) of my professional life (career) as a teacher and an administrator in the NYC public schools system.

Unlike the children of my generation, parents, elders, teachers, leaders, etc., are questioned and the advice given is considered obsolete (unless by some chance you happen to have the same viewpoint). This may not seem like a bad thing. However, the issue arises when these young people (or people in general) are uninformed or misinformed and could care less. Witness some in leadership. I digress. Their role models give allegiance to A.I. (artificial intelligence) and/or social media. The tried, tested and true role models seem out of touch. I remember when my grandson came home one day and was having problems with his math homework. I saw him struggling and offered to help. He said, "Grandma, this is too hard for you; you won't be able to do it." I asked him to let me try. Afterall, I was formally a math teacher and at the time an administrator. I trained and supervised math teachers. He was still not convinced. I found this a little disturbing, not because he doubted my ability; but, because I am his grandmother. Would I lie to him? Why did he not just take my word for it and let me try? (Suffice it to say that I was able to complete his homework problems).

I would have immediately listened to my elder. Then a light bulb came on! Society has changed, and the way we view wise persons is different. In my grandson's mind, his friends' opinions were just as valid as anyone else's. I knew I had to work to do. I gave him some knowledge (I lectured him). I reminded him about my elders and how I was taught to treat them with respect. I wanted him to think about it. I was a person who had studied and worked in the field of education just like his teachers. I also wanted him to understand that his reaction is not totally off. Sometimes people are too close to be taken seriously. This is even mentioned in the bible. "Jesus said to them, "A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among relatives, and in his own household." Mark 6:4 So, it is easy to take people granted because they are so familiar to us. I told my grandson that he had to do better. He agreed. "Respect for your elders was one of the cornerstones of civilized behavior." Diana Gabaldon.

We are commanded by God to show love and respect for everyone. The more love we show, the more healing will take place. "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." Galations 5:14. "Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor." Romans 12:10. I was listening to a recorded sermon by the late Dr. Charles F. Stanley about respecting elders. What made me sit up and take notice was the simplicity of his sermon. His words were easy to understand, yet profound. He said that many miss the point of the "golden rule." "And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them." Luke 6:31. In other words, treat people how you wish to be treated. He said you had to practice this. Love is the tie that binds. When we love as Jesus love us, we will seek the greater good for everyone. Our elders laid the foundation. I think they knew we would continue to seek and to grow in wisdom. They knew that we would need something to count on sometimes in a world of "woe." We were taught the basics so that we would go on to greater expectations for our lives.

When we treat people how we want to be treated, our lives should be exemplary. Usually, we do not treat people well who treat us with disregard or those who exhibit contemptible behavior. We show love those in need and we respect ourselves (mind and body). We step up to meet needs where we can and offer helpful alternatives when we cannot. Our actions will speak volumes. Our elders in particular will be able to teach as we will be teachable. Further, our lives will bear the fruit of this wisdom passed on by our elders. What do you think?

  1. Do you want to be wise? Simply put: follow wise counsel. "We respect our elders. There is wisdom that comes from experience, and I am not going to stop learning from wise counsel." Marcia Fudge You can find wise counsel at home from Godly parents, in the church from elders, Godly friends, leaders, and co-workers. You will know wisdom when you hear it. Ask God to make your heart receptive. Pray.

  2. Practice wisdom. When you understand that you have been instructed in wisdom, been the recipient of wisdom, put it into practice. Do something wise every day. I do not have to tell you what. Figure it out. But, do it and be consistent.

  3. START NOW! There is no time to waste. Why? "The world won't get no better if we just let it be." "Wake Up Everybody," by Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes and Teddy Pendergrass. Look around, we have to make some changes in our world, and it must begin with us. Get on the good foot!

Has my life been perfect? No. But, I am certain that it is better than it would have been without Jesus and an education. Wisdom aids in discernment when we face hard choices. Our elders knew and know that. How? Well, they faced hard choices and survived. They lived to tell the story They can now advise others how to avoid costly mistakes. Listen and take their advice to heart.


Please do not give up. Speak louder. We see you; we need to hear you. Eventually, young and old will get what you are trying to teach. We can all see that wisdom is needed. There are some gaping holes in humanity that can only be filled with love, wisdom, kindness and compassion, and this is what you bring to the table. Continue to live your example. Your wisdom blessed previous generations, your wisdom is needed now.

As we approach a New Year, think about commitments to honor yourself and others. Especially elders. Listen to them, honor them. Young people, they have been where you are trying to go. Let their advice lead the way!

God bless you! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Yours, Yvette

Thank you always for your love and support. I appreciate your comments. I remain grateful. You can comment at:


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