Friday, October 12, 2007

Use It or Lose It

For many centuries, the Roman aqueduct in Segovia, Spain stood as a supreme monument to civil engineering. Spanning a bowl-shaped valley, the two-tiered, bridge-like structure stretches more than half a mile and tops 95 feet at its highest point.

Its massive gray columns, like the legs of a giant elephant, dominate the quiet neighborhoods that flank it. Assembled without mortar during the first century after Christ, the aqueduct carried river water to the town without interruption until 1972 when engineers re channeled the supply entirely though underground conduits.

Unamuno, the Spanish philosopher, said: For eighteen hundred years, it carried cool water from the mountains to the hot and thirsty city. Nearly sixty generations of men drank from its flow. Then came another generation, a recent one, who said: ‘This aqueduct is so great a marvel that it ought to be preserved for our children, as a museum piece. We shall relieve it of its centuries-long labor.' They did; they laid modern iron pipes. They gave the ancient stones a reverent rest.

The result was unexpected. The aqueduct began to fall apart. Air pollution began to corrode away at the newly exposed granite stones. What ages of service could not destroy idleness disintegrated.

More than any time in the history of Christianity, the world has an abundance of men and women who have served God faithfully for many years. They, like the aqueduct in Spain have provided love, service, good works and care to their family, churches and market places.
I think of these folks as Seasoned Believers or Seasoned Servants© who have gotten to a place where their financial resources are adequate to provide for their necessities. Unfortunately, they are the modern human equivalents of the Roman Aqueduct in Segovia. They have an abundance of mental, emotional, spiritual and relational resources that are largely unused.

There are far too many “do gooders” trying to preserve God's Seasoned Servants by urging them to retire. These well meaning folks want to present us as museums for future generations. If that happens, it will lead to certain spiritual, emotional and physical corrosion and an early demise. When I was a boy we called it “dry rot”. I realized then that machines and people both wear out more quickly from inactivity than from overwork.

We desperately need more Seasoned Believers© to Refire not Retire©; to use their wisdom, insights, experiences and gifts in the service of God and humanity. It is extremely important for all of us whether young or seasoned to find the place of service that will inspire us and motivate us to have energy, excitement and satisfaction as well as significance.


Michael W Cristiani said...


Today I saw a note on a church web site asking all the "seniors" to get in touch with the church office so they could be identified and notified in case anything came up "of interest to you". It asked for e-mails as well. I was confused. Do you find this weird, or is it a good way to reach out to Seasoned Believers/Saints?

And, again, I am humiliated that I missed the big bash on Saturday.

Gary Sweeten said...

Michael, I think this approach is another way to let Seasoned Believers know they are supposed to be passive and receptive. It appears that someone in the church administration is trying hard to reach out to "Seniors" but is not assuming that they need to actually sit down with them and ask about their hopes, dreams and gifts.

Think about it this way. These Seasoned Saints have been Spiritual Servants for many years. The created the most dynamic and powerful economy ever known to humanity, fought and won several wars, led companies like P&G, GE, GOOGLE< Microsoft, CBS and Kroger as well as founded smaller companies to do everything from knitting to making aromored cars. We are teachers, chemists, welders, fork lift operators, engineers, musicians, web page designers, pilots, salespeople and psychologists.

We ran the world for the past 50 to 60 years, what makes someone in a church job think we cannot do ministry? The gifts, talents, Spirituality and love in the pews is at least 100 times greater than that in the pulpit because the ratio of pew sitters to pulpiteers is about 200 to 1.

Michael W Cristiani said...


Among the dreams you talk about so compassionately is the dream of us Seasoned Ones to fall passionately and intimately (see the Song of Songs) in Love with Jesus all over again. Amen!