First Larne Presbyterian Church

First Larne Presbyterian Church

Too Old?

Say No to Ageism

The UK is ‘completely and institutionally ageist’. These are the words of Professor Martin Green, Chief Executive of Care England, the largest representative body for independent social care services in the UK.

Green laments the way the young are disenfranchising the old. But the problem of ageism isn’t just that older people lose out; everyone does. Allow me to introduce you to James.

James had spent the bulk of his working life as a university careers adviser. By asking the right questions, he’d helped hundreds of students discover how their gifts, skills, and desires connected with the world of work. Then, aged 79, he found himself asking God his own vocational question: ‘Father, at this stage of my life, how can I steward my time and my gifts well?’

Not long after praying this, James was strolling around town when he noticed a sign in his local library: ‘Vacancy: Volunteer Computer Buddy’. James had always been a bit of a techie – setting up computer networks for his kids, writing software for the university department. He applied. Within a few weeks, he was helping people print off plane tickets and log onto their Universal Credit accounts. Word of his computer wizardry went viral, and it wasn’t long before James was running sessions in other places too.

He remembers the morning Stuart came into the library, clutching a brand-new silver netbook. ‘My niece bought me this, but I have no idea how to use it.’ Once James had introduced Stuart to the joys of Gmail and Facebook, Stuart got himself a smartphone. But he wasn’t sure how to use that either. After a few sessions with James, though, he could WhatsApp like a pro.

Some months later Stuart was diagnosed with aggressive cancer. Through this most difficult time, the skills he’s learnt from James are helping him keep in touch with friends and family. And the friendship he’s developed with James is helping him navigate this season of life. Through all this, James is ministering grace and love. He is making good work.

You see, we should all be asking ourselves – and others – questions of vocation at every stage of life. How can I use my God-given gifts, talents, desires, time, and opportunities for the good of my neighbour, to the glory of God? And how am I doing this already? How we answer these questions changes everything.


Joe Warton
Church Team – Research and Development, LICC