Session Three : The Elder Statesperson
Session Three : The Elder Statesperson
What are the characteristics or attributes that characterise an elder statesperson and how can we maintain this attitude.


Looking at images of politicians and world leaders as a group divide the images into two groups and discuss those who you decide are States-people-like and those who you do not consider to be so.

Please enjoy a lively conversation about your reasoning but try and keep it amicable and do not get caught up in party politics.


What are the characteristics or attributes that you feel characterise an elder stateswoman/man?


I have reflected upon those people who have stood out for me as people who epitomise what I would see as an elder statesperson and believe that there are certain characteristics that they display.

There is a consistency to those people to whom we give our respect. They are people whose ‘yes is yes’ and whose ‘no is no’ but in a way that is not dogmatic or intransigent. We can see this consistency as a pattern of their lives, of their choices and decisions and of their advice. When times are changing, and isn’t that just the case right now, we see elder states-people as standing out like a lighthouse of consistency in the storm with constantly shifting tides. This consistency also extends to being diplomatic in conversation, perhaps best described as ‘speaking the truth in love’ rather than simply agreeing with differing points of view and trying to keep the peace. We are urged to live as men and women who exude an integrity arising from an inner faith.

Read Ephesians 4:14 -15

Elder states-people always seem to be positive. They have the ability to be in any situation and find something positive to say about it. In a world of negativity this comes across as a ‘breath of fresh air’ than that, it is not just a way of looking at things and ignoring the reality, but rather looking at the reality and seeing new possibilities that come from having a faith in God. It is seeing the world through the eyes of faith and not through the eyes of despair which makes a difference and sets people out as States-people-like
in our Corps, churches and communities. It is about dreaming new possibilities. Among the first public words spoken by Jesus recorded in the Bible are of him reading the prophecy from Joel:

‘I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; and your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.’
Joel 2:28 (KJV)

Dreaming new dreams and seeing new possibilities only comes when we are prepared to lay down the shackles of a status quo ‘we’ve always done it like this’ mentality. It happens when we are willing to be open to the Spirit’s leading and to be bold in where the Spirit leads. The story of Ananias recorded in Acts 9:10-20 is an example where someone was prepared to follow the leading of the Spirit even through fear and uncertainty.

En (make) courage (inner strength)
The etymology of the word encourage is literally to make inner strength. We so often think of an encourager as a ‘cheerer-upper’ with a word of humour but it is so much more than that. Real encouragers lift the soul, provide hope for the future and develop resilience within us. When Moses was faced with the reality that he would never cross the Jordan into the
Promised Land he was told:

‘But charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him: for he shall go over before his people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shalt see.’
Deuteronomy 3:28 (KJV)

In a very real sense he was passing on the mantle that had originally been his and on which he failed to deliver because of pride. Although this may have caused him some personal pain he nonetheless obeys God’s command to encourage and empower Joshua.

When I think back on those people who have encouraged me I recognise that they have not simply been ‘cheerful souls’ but have been men and women of God who have understood something of the circumstances (i.e. there is an established relationship), have understood something of the challenges that are being faced and have brought an understanding of God into that situation. Sometimes the words they have given have been most challenging yet they have been the most encouraging – literally making inner strength.


Think upon the heroes of faith who have been elder states-people in your life.

Make a list and pray for guidance.

For the next session…..

You will need some good drawing paper and a sharpened 2B pencil for best results.