Tag Archives: Albert Mohler

The Wisdom of the Elderly and the Culture of Death

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”

In September my congregation celebrated the 90th birthday of Elder Emeritus Mr. Sehon. He had turned ninety years old, and has been married for over 70 years. He isn’t in quite the shape he was likely in when he was my age: He sometimes struggles to stay awake during the sermons, and even spills his coffee sometimes. He doesn’t get around very well anymore, and can’t drive himself to Church.

Recently, on the Lord’s Day, I got to see his face when the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was brought to him and his wife. His face lit up, as if Jesus Christ was meeting him there. He then gently handed a piece of the bread and a cup of wine to his wife. Even after over 70 years of marriage he holds her hand during the service.

He was an elder in another congregation for many years prior to ending up in my congregation. With this in mind, and out of respect for him and his service to the Church as a whole, the session made him Elder Emeritus.

Because he is unable to drive, one of the elders gives him a ride to Church every week. How I wish I was privy to the conversations they have before and after the Lord’s Day service. The influence he has on this elder isn’t readily apparent, but I am sure it is considerable. I can’t begin to imagine how Mr. Sehon has influenced me indirectly through the elders and the other members of our congregation.

Unfortunately, many people who are younger than our Elder Emeritus would rather enter into death than to continue in this life where they could be a positive influence to the young, leaving behind a legacy.

On “The Briefing” Thursday Dr. Albert Mohler read a story about a 65 year old woman who said she prefers euthanasia over continuing in this life if she can no longer attend the theater, or if she becomes unable to get around on her own. Is life worth so little to her that she would prefer hers end rather than to give up some of her personal autonomy with the need to rely on others? What legacy is she leaving behind letting the wisdom she should have accrued over the years perish with her rather than passing it on to the younger generations? What this says of her opinion of the Law of God, which forbids suicide is a matter for another time. I’ll just leave a reference to Westminster Larger Catechism questions 134 through 136 here for that.

As I listened to Dr. Mohler my thoughts drifted to our Elder Emeritus, imagining if he and the other elderly in our congregation were to decide they would rather perish than to encourage us with God’s grace and the wisdom He has given them. How much wisdom would be lost? How many avoidable mistakes would we as individuals make because we didn’t receive from those who have gone before us? How much of our sanctification are we missing out on? Is avoiding that loss of personal autonomy worth it neglecting the benefits the elderly can provide to us? Obviously, I don’t think so. I’ll close with question 129 from the Westminster Larger Catechism, on the subject of positive use of the 5th Commandment.

Q. 129. What is required of superiors towards their inferiors?
A. It is required of superiors, according to that power they receive from God, and that relation wherein they stand, to love, pray for, and bless their inferiors; to instruct, counsel, and admonish them; countenancing, commending, and rewarding such as do well; and discountenancing, reproving, and chastising such as do ill; protecting, and providing for them all things necessary for soul and body: and by grave, wise, holy, and exemplary carriage, to procure glory to God, honor to themselves, and so to preserve that authority which God hath put upon them.

The Conviction to Lead by Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr.

Book Cover: The Conviction to Lead by Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr.I don’t expect this will be something I’ll do often, as my book reviews tend to go on my other, less personal, blog. However, the author of the book, Dr. Mohler, gave me an autographed pre-release copy of the book. So, with that in mind, I will be posting my review here first, and then at my other blog in a day or so.

Leadership is a genre I tend to stay away from. Typically, I would expect leadership books to be shallow, self-centered, and a waste of time. Even more so in the genre of leadership books that are written by Christians, as most leadership has a secular business model in mind, rather than leadership within the Church or a Christian organization. So, what do you do when a man you highly respect writes a book on leadership, gives you a free copy and autographs it? You read it, learn from it, and review it, of course.

Dr. Mohler set out to make his leadership book different from others in the genre, not only to be different, but to change the way we view leadership. He wants to change things, so we view leadership as “leading with belief and conviction.”

This book is written with the concern that far too much of what passes for leadership today is mere management. Without convictions you might be able to manage, but you cannot really lead.

He focuses mostly on convictions, where they come from, what they must be, and where they lead us. Without convictions, leadership is merely management. From there, Mohler talks about the characteristics one must develop if they want to lead well. Some of those characteristics being keeping up with the happenings in the world and communicating to the world. He includes some practical tips as on how to do this, how to read, what to read, etc. along with deeper aspects, such as developing character, and how to speak with passion and conviction. The book ends talking about time, patience, endurance, death, and legacy. Without patience, one won’t endure, and their convictions will die with them, rather than leaving a legacy that shapes the organization for years to come.

Despite not being a genre I have much interest in, I enjoyed the book. It is broken into 25 small chapters, each one covering a particular topic. The format makes for a quick read, and should make it easy to go back and reread portions as a reminder to reinforce what one has learned.

Another aspect I enjoyed was when Dr. Mohler shared stories of how he learned to lead, and his leadership experiences at Southern Seminary.

From what I’ve seen, many leadership books are from questionable pastors who’s beliefs are soft, often times it is questionable if these self proclaimed leaders are even believers. Although knowledgeable about business leadership, they don’t seem to live a life that reflects the teachings of our Lord and Savior, much less lead those around them in a biblical manner.

It is one thing to write a book about leadership, it is another to be a successful Christian leader who is shaping our world today, and then document how he got there and how he leads. Dr. Mohler, is a credible source, known for his convictions, and with the experience that comes from leading one of the biggest and most influential seminaries in the nation. With this reputation, his book which documents how he leads, and why it works, is a must read.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking to pastor a church or to run a Christian or other charitable organization. I’m not in any of those categories, but I did enjoy the book, and I feel I did learn from it. I’m also grateful to Southern Seminary and Dr. Mohler for giving me the book, autographing it,  and more importantly, for their work in spreading the Gospel and doing so in a clear manner, out of their deep-rooted conviction and love.

* – To clarify, I was given the book in a drawing at the potential student lunch, it was not given to me in exchange for me reviewing it, or for giving a positive review.

My mostly chapter by chapter commentary on GoodReads

Other books I’ve posted on GoodReads