The Art of Aging Well

Last night Laura and I were scrolling through TV shows on her current favorite network—Brit Box. A show popped up starring Rob Lowe, and she said, “Oh, let’s watch that!” I think she said it a little too enthusiastically. But being the supportive husband I am, I tentatively agreed. 


Once we got into the show, I thought that Rob Lowe was looking a bit “mature” these days, and Laura looked up his age online to discover he’s the ripe young age of 57. Not being too far removed from that hale and hearty age, I asked Laura if I looked like that. She pretended not to hear the question.


The reason I pull back the curtain into an evening at the Grover household is because it made me think about getting older. Yesterday afternoon I had a coaching call with a younger pastor who told me, “You’ve been pastoring for decades now, and I wanted to pick your brain on a few things.” My initial reaction was, “I haven’t been doing this for decades!” But then I realized, well, he was right. 


There is without question a science to aging, but there is also an art. The science tells us about the aging effects of decreased bone density, hair thinning, muscle-tone loss, and bio-chemical changes. These were more evident with Rob Lowe, in my opinion, which led to my question and Laura pleading the fifth.


The art of aging, however, is different, more subtle, and more discriminatory. Usually when someone says, “She’s aged well,” they’re referring to her appearance, when in reality the wellness of aging goes much deeper than the number of wrinkles found on one’s forehead.


What does it mean to age well? Therein lies the art of aging. 


To age well means to gain wisdom and understanding. In Job’s response to Zophar, he said, “Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days” (Job 12:12). As is the case with most things in life, there are exceptions to the rule. The one who refuses to seek God as the fount of wisdom, turns a blind eye to the beauty of true counsel and discernment. Job goes on to say, “With God are wisdom and might; he has counsel and understanding” (Job 12:13).


To age well means to grow in humility and grace. A sophomore may be a wise fool, but the art of aging is to acknowledge we know not what we do not know. We apply greater grace and less condemnation when we are faced with our own missteps and transgressions. Wisdom is the Apostle Paul descending into greatness with his profession, “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst” (1 Timothy 1:15).


To age well means to exhibit tenacious joy. “Old” is not a synonym for “grumpy.” The science of aging may tell us that the aches and pains of diminished health, combined with tenured disappointment, lead to disagreeable negativity. But the art of aging well means we resist this law of entropy and tenaciously hold to joy, because we know the end of the story, and it bodes well for those in Christ Jesus. This is why we fix “our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).


Maybe the science of aging tells me I’m looking more like the mature version of Rob Lowe than the one Laura had in her memory. But I pray for all of us that the art of aging will tell us we are aging quite well.


“The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old” (Proverbs 20:29).