If Ponce de Leon had been born more recently, he might have discovered a thing or two about youth by visiting Glenmont pastor Steve Giles of Mt. Moriah Ministries.
His “fountain” gushes with wit and wisdom that leads his wife, Meredith (see January 2016 edition), to tease him about acting his age and not his shoe size.
“I’m 64 going on 24,” he cracks. “Really, though, when you feel you’re old and see yourself like that, people pick up on that attitude. If the young people ask me to go on a zip line, I go with them. I’m part of the team and one of the pack. As soon as you start using the expression, ‘I’m too old,’ nobody wants to hang out with you.”
Giles knows of what he jests. You have to have a bit of a kid in you to start an orphanage half way around the world. He and his wife lead an international ministry that not only includes the home for children north of Nairobi, but also includes dozens of younger pastors in Uganda and Kenya who look to him as a father figure.
In Glenmont, this ageless attitude has helped raise a whole level of under-shepherds at their Mt. Moriah church on Route 9W.
“There are real differences between generations,” Giles said. “But if you stay youthful in your mind and actions and truly befriend them and joke with them, they’ll want to be around you.”
These types of relationships form the basis for effective and genuine mentoring, in addition to bridging age for an intergenerational work. He’s on both ends of that spectrum.
“I’m between two worlds,” Giles explained. “I’m friends with those who are 20 years older than me and cherish my times with those in their 40s. The older ones think I’m young, and the younger ones think I’m older.”
Although he has a reputation as a jokester, Giles takes his senior years seriously.
“I’m coming into more mature and productive years, and I feel as if I’ve just begun,” he said. “I used to think people in their 60s were old, and I wanted to be sensitive about their age. Now, I understand they didn’t want to babied, and now I don’t want to be babied either.”
If Giles had been born back in de Leon’s time, the explorer might still be living today.
For more information on the orphanage and Giles’ outlook, contact him at 426-4510.
Robert J. LaCosta appears weekdays at belovedblogger.com and is an author and songwriter. Contact: [email protected]