Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 7, 1953

Old Preachers Don't Die, They Just Fade Away

S. Porter Wilhite, Houston, Texas

From my childhood days I have watched preacher: come into prominence and fade away because of age. It has caused me to wonder if the church of our Lord is doing its duty toward the old true and tried men, who have given of their time, energy, and means to help humanity, they be forced into a poor house, Old Age Assistance, or their children, grandchildren, or on some one who cares less for them than either of the above. This has been a problem to me, and I am now asking others to help me solve it scripturally.

It might be remembered they have no Social Security and as a rule they were not permitted to accumulate anything for their old age, because they were not paid more than a bare living, and many were not paid that well. 0f course in these days they are all paid much more than when I began to take cognizance of these conditions, yet there are many old preachers who are not getting the calls they once did. You may ask why do they not go preach anyway? No doubt many of them do, as they are permitted, but at that they are not paid much because they have to go where others refuse to go. In other words they can only preach where the younger men cannot get to, or where they refuse to go because of the financial condition of said congregation, or community.

I am going to venture a way of settling this all important matter. If any reader finds a scriptural fault to it, please let me hear it, or if anyone wishes to endorse it, I will also appreciate hearing about it. Here it is: We have many congregations well able to support foreign mission work which is deserving. I am for it. They also hire singers, as well as assistant preachers, some of whom are just out of college and who have had no or very little experience in such work. Neither am I condemning that work. It is a work that must go on. The young men need encouragement and I am for it. But many places need just such a man as some of our faithful men who have been "laid on the shelf," so to speak, for no other reason, only that they are getting old. They can't help getting old. No doubt they hate it more than you do but maybe for a different reason. They hate to know they are getting to where they cannot do as much for the Lord as they once did, or that they have lost their ability to do the work, as a local preacher, they once did. They think of Paul's experience recorded in Galatians 4, where, as he says there was a time when they would have "plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me." So he asks "Where is then the blessedness ye spake of?" Such things reach the very heart of that faithful old preacher and his devoted wife. What are we to do about it? I say each one, if able and deserving, should be taken up by some of the churches, pay them a living wage, so they will be independent of others, or of charity, have them teach a lesson or two a week, because their experience and ability is worth much. Let them fill the pulpit when the regular preacher is out in meetings, then save the natural slump that comes under such times. Let him and his wife do local work. They can do much visiting, teaching in homes and elsewhere, such as hospitals etc. In fact, while still active, as some of the leading preachers with whom I have discussed this say, a young fluent speaker many times would give anything to sit down with one of experience and take counsel. Brother it is surely a good work, very deserving, and will be hailed as a happy day to many old preachers.

Young man, 'tis fine to preach the word. The gospel is the power of God. I'm thankful that I started young To preach till laid beneath the sod; But this one thing please bear in mind: The road is rugged, hard to climb. You'll be in want and talked about. Until you reach the shore sublime.

Yet many joys will come your way, If true and faithful you should be. The gospel preacher's happy here As on he goes with conscience free. He may not have much gold or land, As to this life his body clings, But he'll rejoice exceeding much, When to the Lord his sheaves he brings.

The persecution he'll endure Prepares him for a better life, And there with all the saved and blest, Be free from all this worldly strife; And all the while preparing for The summons from eternal day. Old preachers never die you know, The poor old things just fade away!