Listen to the Old Souls


I recently had a conversation with a thirty-seven-year-old businessman.  Though pleasant enough, I felt and observed a cockiness and arrogance that valued people and objectives through a grid of, “What’s in it for me?”  Beyond that perspective he had no interest in others, or their concerns.  Money, success, showmanship … those are his measurements.  I looked at this man and internally shook my head for I knew he would have to experience a lot of pain to understand the shaky ground he built his life on.  I knew that all those measurements he uses will be used against him one day, and he will have to be broken if he has any hope of making a true significant impact on his world, or to find that which he deep down longs for.  Right now, the only impact I see is his ego being swelled up, and being fed because of a little success.  How do I know this?  I was that guy at one time.


I am told that these are the characteristics of the current generation.  I am told that what I am observing is age disassociation, since I am “slightly” older.  I don’t buy into that argument.  The reason this doesn’t land as truth for me is because, again, I was the same way at his age.  So, I must conclude that I was either ahead of my time, or that this is a normal perspective for men at that age.  You see I remember the people who were my age at the time were the same as this man.  Therefore, I believe that every generation has had a similar selfish swagger, unless they were at war, or in a nationwide depression, and got the heck beat out of them.  The pain and threats that come from such things tend toward sifting a man’s ego out of him, and he becomes real with his world.  It is then that he is purified of himself, and is able to be a true man of influence in his world.  What I saw in the young man is someone who has walked an easy road, and is striving to be a man of influence based on the way the world values people, so he can get its applause.  But he needs to get to the truth of what he will gain, and what he will lose if he keeps going down his current path.  Here is what Jesus said about it:


“And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?”  Matthew 16:26 NLT


Now you may ask, “Does that mean I will lose hope for eternal life if I am that guy?”  Maybe so.  I’m not quite sure, for there is a difference with our spirit and soul, and Jesus referenced the soul.  Maybe it is not about eternal life, but about the quality of life we have during this life that we lose?  Let’s consider that loss first, for it affects even those of us who call ourselves Christians, but live like there is no accountability.  What is our soul, for that is what Jesus mentioned?


To begin with we need to understand that we are spirit beings within a physical body.  We are spirit beings with souls.  The spirit and the soul of a person describes the “heart” of a person.  The soul consists of the mind (which includes the conscience), the will, and the emotions, or another way to say it is our “inner man.”  What is distinct about us is our soul.  We are all different.  In other words, our soul makes us distinct as a spirit being.  I believe Jesus was speaking to the choices we make, and our perspective about what is truly important, for there will be a cost either way.  I believe Jesus is saying the same thing to Christians and non-Christians today that He was saying to the people then in Matthew 16.  He is saying is essence, “Be very careful about what you pursue in this world, for you can lose your heart, and even lose it all.  Even if you can gain all you want, will it be worth what you lose?”


Even as a Christian our soul can lose its way, for the path we follow with our choices may very well lead us astray.  I mentioned that I was that guy.  Because of this God did me a great favor.  I had to be broken from being that guy.  It was painful, but good.  I had to be shown firsthand how my pursuit of the world and its ways would destroy all that I hold dear.  If I had not been broken I would never see the damage that I would bring to other people including those I love the most, nor would I have experienced the joy of finding the real Treasure I was looking for.  You see the Treasure we deep down long for is not found with what we can attain by own efforts, but rather what we are given because of what Christ has obtained for us.  We cannot find this treasure in Him, if He has to compete for space and time and priority against our pursuit of money, glory and fame.


There is hope for the young man I mentioned.  But this hope will likely be found only when he comes face to face with a crisis and disappointment, and he sees the truth of his vulnerable spiritual condition.  I hope to be there with him to help him pick up the pieces of his life when it comes.  It is not because of any satisfaction of being a “I told you so,” but rather because in some way I would be helping myself when I was his age.  He will need to know that though his breaking is painful the best and most joyful days are ahead for him, for he now understands what stood in the way.  That’s what old broken souls do.  They help others find what they are looking for.  It is found in the One who lifted us up, and showed us what was missing in our own life.  We use our experiences to help others.  That is why we should never accept a perspective that the current generation doesn’t need an older one.  The fact is they need us more now than ever.

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