The glory of young men is their strength,
And the splendor of old men is their gray head.
-Proverbs 20:29 (NKJV)
During my senior year of high school, I competed in the national qualifying tournament for debate. My partner and I were one of four remaining teams in the tournament, only two qualified. We really only had to win one more round and we would be in. The competition was not hard in that final round and we should have won, but we came up short by a very small margin. It was difficult to accept getting so close but still failing. After the tournament, my dad pulled me aside and shared about a time he was in a very similar situation when he was in high school. He could relate. After opening up about his own similar experience that he had shared with very few others, I left strengthened and encouraged.
As I get older, I’m constantly amazed by how little I knew just a few years ago. Life feels like an endless process of zooming out. At any given point, it seems like I see the whole picture, that I really understand how the world works, yet as time passes, I see there is much more than I ever imagined.
During our youth, we learn and prepare. We never stop learning, but eventually, we start executing. As our body starts to not execute as it used to, we teach those who are on the path behind us. We map out the trail for the next generation. This is the process of living: the glory of young men is their ability to execute; the glory of older men is their wisdom and experience.
My father has exemplified this. There are many trials and tribulations that I have avoided by heeding my fathers wisdom. He taught me how to save and live frugally. He taught me to work hard and provide for my family. Even in this last year, he reminded me that I don’t work for man, but that I should serve God in all I do. Much like a potter with his clay, my dad has left his fingerprints all over my life. His life served as a trail, teaching me what he had learned.
It’s not that he is perfect, but in his imperfection, he chose to be be a lighthouse — not hiding his mistakes, but using them to alert others of the danger ahead. He taught me many things growing up, he has shared in my life since, and he continues to provide wisdom as he continues to learn. Even his consoling many years ago at that debate tournament still ministers to me today.
None of us lives life without error, but we can help others by improving their journey and making it more fruitful. All of us as we grow older have the opportunity to help those around us in their journey. So it’s a worthy question: for whom are each of us blazing a trail?