Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 12, 1956

In Reply To -- "He Dropped The Phone"

Herbert L. Coffman, Hillsboro, Texas

I am a young man, but I wish to defend the old. Brother Tillit S. Teddlie wrote in the November 3, 1955 issue of the Gospel Advocate an article entitled "He Dropped the Phone." The article taught that we should honor the old preacher, and it implied to me that we should give the "local work" to the young man. It further stated that a preacher shouldn't grumble if he doesn't get a preaching place when he is sixty or past. From the conversation of various members that I have heard, many seem to concur with the sentiments expressed in the article. It is possible that I may have missed the meaning in Brother Teddlie's article, but I know that I haven't missed the meaning of the conversations I have heard.

Why should we turn out to pasture the "old preacher"? What earthly reason is there for it? He has given thirty to forty years of his life preaching; and then when he reaches sixty, we say, "He is too old." Too old for what? He is not too old to study. He is not too old to do public preaching. Oh, he may have slowed down a bit; but do we just have to have "rapid-fire" preachers? He is not too old to teach classes. He is not too old to visit. What is he too old for? For one thing, he is too old to do the partying that people want from younger preachers. He is too old to do the "public relations" work (visit civic clubs, country clubs, every meeting that comes to town, and various other social functions) that is expected of the younger preachers. He is too old to engage in athletic activities for the young or to take them on long excursions (when the parents won't). He is too old to do the carpenter work, yard work, janitor work, and bulletin work in addition to his other duties. It seems to me that some may have forgotten that the Lord expects us to preach — not to do the members' work for them.

How old have the last three Presidents been? All over sixty. Many of the executives of our larger corporations are "way-over" sixty. And industry feels that these men are not too old to draw salaries from $30,000 to $150,000. Even government experts on old age testify that a man can do a good day's work many times when he is in his seventies Aren't we possibly falling for a "young-man-mania" that seems to be circulating the brotherhood?

Suppose you retire a preacher at sixty — what is he going to live on? The brethren don't seem to believe in retirement funds like industry has. "Social Security" they say is the answer. Everyone will agree that isn't enough. And if you retire every preacher who is now sixty, how is he going to earn the Social Security anyway? What are you supposed to live on when you are past sixty — the souls you saved when you were forty?

Let us young men wake up. What they do to old preachers now, they might do to us when we are old. I, for one, don't want to quit preaching when I am sixty. And if I am retired by the brethren while I am still able to do the Lord's work (but maybe not every odd job that is sometimes expected of us), I doubt very seriously that I will take it very gracefully.

And if we take all of these millions of dollars that are going into these huge cooperative efforts and keep the old preachers in a job, we will not only do more gospel preaching, but we will also keep ourselves from sinning grievously against an "old soldier of the cross"!

Young preachers, this is your responsibility. "To honor" doesn't just mean "give praise." In the Bible it sometimes means "to feed." And it is we young preachers who must fight the old preachers' battle for them. Let us not allow them to starve until the Lord calls them home to glory, but rather let all the churches utilize their wisdom, ability, and knowledge until they can no longer preach — and then take care of them until He calls for them.