“Much that once was, is lost for none now live who remember it.”
“If we’re not pouring into the next generation, we’re wasting our time.”
– Keri Jones
Welcome back! Go ahead and read the quick Introduction to this series before you carry on!
As soon as you turn on the TV, you’re instantly drafted into the army that “fights the signs of aging!” Whether it’s grey hair or wrinkles, you’re simply told that you have an enemy. Getting older! You’re bombarded with messages telling you to stay young no matter what. Whatever it takes you know that at all costs you must never get to the place where the kid behind the counter is calling you Sir or Madam! So you start to buy these bottles of empty promises, you start to try and listen to more modern music and you start to try and keep up with current fashion trends.
On the other hand you may grow up hearing annoying phrases like “I’ll tell you when you’re
older” or “You’ll understand when your older” or “You’re not older enough to [fill the blank].” Your age seems to be the main restricting force on your life so you start resenting it and try to walk, talk, act and even dress like a grown up. You lie about your age on Facebook, at the cinema or at the doors of clubs and bars because no one seems to respect you when they find out how young you really are.
People hate getting old. Do you? Perhaps you get discouraged as you look back on all the things you
wanted to accomplish by the time you reached the age you’re at. Maybe you begin to look at other peers’ achievements and wonder how they got so far ahead of you.
People hate being young. Do you? Perhaps you get annoyed at how little value your opinion seems to have and how little responsibility you get trusted with. Maybe you start to look at people who’re older than you and start to see them as being in your way.
Divide and Conquer
Our society sends out very confusing messages to the older and younger generations and I think this hugely contributes to the rifts we often feel. As I wrote in the previous post, I think that there is a separation here that God wants to restore because it’s central to His purposes.
Divide and conquer is the oldest trick in the book, driving a wedge between two parties to separate their combined strength. When it comes to the power of older and younger generations in the kingdom, we see our enemy enacting the same strategy whereas God has promised to do the opposite (Luke 1:17). I think there are some unhelpful attitudes that both younger and older people can engage in that fuel this division. I’d like to look at three of them and I’d love to hear your thoughts too!
#1 – The older generation still thinks it’s the younger generation.
This is true of life inside and outside the kingdom. One moment you’re playing with toys and you blink and find yourself putting an offer on a house. In the introduction I said that the terms “older” and “younger” would not always refer to physical age. In this case I think it does because God is in the business of taking hold of young men and women and setting them on fire with vision and passion for His kingdom. They begin running with all of their might but often don’t discern when they’re no longer “young” men and women and the society we live in tells us to reject such thoughts anyway because “You’re only as old as you feel” as long as you stay “Young at heart”. Instead of thinking about leaving a legacy for those that will come after them, they continue to focus solely on running. This is a problem.
Although there is some overlap I think that the roles laid out for each generation are quite distinct and I think one of the primary (not the only) roles of the older generation or of fathers and mothers is to take what God has shown them and taught them and revealed to them and pass it on to the sons and daughters in the younger generation to ensure that it’s not lost but that it adds to His purposes in the next generation. The sons and daughters that are full of energy and zeal (and tons of free time) desperately need the wisdom of age in order to avoid making the same mistakes their fathers and mothers did in the past. This is like a skilful relay race change-over but more on that later.
#2 – The younger generation wants to be the older generation.
The younger generation can be very indifferent or get very excited. We can hear a whisper of God doing something and run full speed ahead! We can sit critically through church gatherings identifying everything that is being done wrong. We often have more courage than sense, more passion than understanding and more truth than grace although we’d never admit it because everything we think feels right…until it’s proved wrong. Our youth means we don’t really have a frame of reference for longevity or long-term thinking. Everything needs to happen for us now and we often don’t realise that what we’re calling faith is actually impatience! God shows us a vision of Z and we look for the quickest way there from A, avoiding as many “unnecessary” steps as we can in the middle.
It’s important for us to remember that when we miss steps, we compromise the end product even though we might get there quicker. We end up as those who arrive in a place with strong gifting but lacking the character to carry it. These are lessons I believe we’re supposed to learn from the older generation but we have a tendency to become very critical of them. They’re not doing things the way we think they should and they’re not listening to our advice about how to make things better, it seems. We see their flaws and failures and criticise them instead of seeing that we’re a product of their successes asking how we can correct the same flaws in ourselves before it counts. We reject their wisdom and leadership and try to push past them and then make the same mistakes they did again, only achieving a fraction of the increase we were supposed to see in our lifetime because we weren’t willing to choose honour.
It’s important for us to remember that when we miss steps, we compromise the end product even though we might get there quicker.
#3 – Both generations often fail to realise we’re on the same team.
The desire to be remembered or to have made a difference is a strong driving force in many of us but it’s robbed of its power when it’s viewed in isolation. The sons and daughters begin running and really pick up some speed until suddenly (it seems so sudden) they become the fathers and mothers. They sometimes then want to run the race until they crash through the pearly gates so that they can go down in history as those who “died empty” and gave their all to the Lord! Sometimes they lose momentum and begin to resent the young, know-it-all whipper snappers who seem to be biting at their heels just as they once did to their mothers and fathers! This younger generation seems to have suddenly woken up and found its voice and is using it to complain about and criticise everything its elders do too much or don’t do enough of.
I was sat in our annual church gathering several years ago when I heard the above quote from Keri Jones and it has never left me. I think that learning from it and embracing it is pretty essential for the Body of Christ but sadly it seems to be something that is rarely done well. Each new generation often seems to want to be totally separate and independent from the generation before it, seeing its elders as outdated or ineffective. This can show up in throwing strops and moaning like bored toddlers or secretly plotting coups and sneaking around like rebellious teenagers only to end up on the other side of the same problem years later. Banning Liebscher covers this really well in his sermon The Rod and the Sword. I HIGHLY recommend it.
God however, is really smart. Obvious I know. But just look at His incredible plan for kingdom advancement through impartation or “passing the baton”. Thanks for reading! Head on to Part 2!