this came across my desk last week. “maturity in season of life.” part of a minister of music job description, i was struck by the unguarded language, the bow to what only time and experience can teach. i have never seen this written as such before. it was bracing in every GOOD way. it was appreciatory. it was a breath of fresh air.
in a society that seeks to remain youthful and puts less emphasis on maturity in season of life than on staying young, we need remember there’s a place for everyone. some places require youth, fresh and breathing hard from the sprint. other places recognize the need for the steadfast wisdom of the ages, a decision-maker-doer who brings a lifetime of positive and negative experiences and knows how to differentiate between them, has an intuition built on time and the ever-growing wealth of lessons. the seesaw has room for both; the fulcrum can only balance with both.
as two artists living together, we are more than aware of the challenge of ageism, the challenge of time spent in our artistry and how that relates to value. more than a thousand times we have each been admonished for thinking we need to be paid when we should be grateful for the “exposure” we are being “granted”. more than a thousand times we have each been in a place where we have had to explain why our artistry needs to be financially rewarded just like anyone else’s work.
indeed, pay scales have been built to reflect time spent and job descriptions use verbiage like “pay is commensurate with experience.” experience. maturity: “the ability to respond to the environment in an appropriate manner. being aware of the correct time and location to behave and knowing when to act, according to the circumstances and the culture of the society (read: job) one lives in (read: one works in).”
i recently was having a written messaging chat with a hard-working young adult whose job is in the arts. with these challenges facing him every day, he said that people do not realize that “they’re paying me to know what to do if things don’t go well.” intuition. working on the fly based on training, knowledge and an ever-building bank of experiences. he will continue to face that challenge; it will only deepen. how is that maturity measured? how will he be paid for that maturity, for that which he cannot describe and for which others cannot fathom? for some reason, in this society, it is easier to answer that question if you are doing a numbers job, something seemingly more concrete, more measurable, more quantifiable.
but maturity in season of life touches others as well and we have dear friends who have been ‘let go’ from their jobs simply because of their age. now, their companies would never testify to that and are careful to avoid such language – for that would set them up for all kinds of legal problems – but it has been clear to our friends, struggling to find a new way in later days of their lives. few and far between are those who are able to benefit by pointing out the error of their ways to the company that is undervaluing a later human-on-this-earth season. other friends are fortunate enough to be working somewhere that has deeply valued the long time they have spent in their work and these friends have retired with spoken words of gratitude and wishes of continued good living. where is the fulcrum?
in this particular document that came across my desk, the whole phrase read, “maturity in season of life and maturity in ministry experience.” shockingly, they are seeking this as a qualifier and they are willing to pay for it. speaking directly to that qualifier that beautifully honors the wisdom of the ages, there are things that, as a minister of music at 19 i did not know. there are things that, as a minister of music at 32 i did not know. likewise, as a 30-years-as-a-minister-of-music at days-away-from-60, of course there are things i do not know.
what i DO know is that every experience i have had as a minister of music has built upon the last. instead of a chasm where learnings have dropped rapid-fire into an abyss, i have learned what the important stuff is and how to attempt to keep those things foremost.
like anyone in any job, mastery is commensurate with time spent, with growth in that work, and yes, without exception, with maturity in season of life.
“take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.” (desiderata)