The Church is not a business. Although we are charitable, we are not a charity. Although we are often organised (and very often not), we are not an organisation. First and foremost we are sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father and so we know that we are a family and are relational at our core. The relationships between us are potent vehicles for seeing the transformational power of God in the lives of individuals and the manifestation of the kingdom of God in the earth. These relationships are often the target of enemy attacks and we can probably all acknowledge that through the years they’ve taken quite a beating.
One of the relationships that I believe needs restoration is that between the older and younger generations. I think that there is a great need for a richer, deeper and more intentional connection between us if we are to move forward in the purposes of God and I believe that this relationship and the way it is designed to advance the kingdom really displays the manifold wisdom of God and so that will be the subject of this “Legacy” series. I’d just like to do a little intro to explain a few things before we get going.
Firstly, I’m going to be using the terms “older” and “younger” generations throughout these posts. You can start thinking but don’t decide which one you are yet. You may actually find that you’re both! Mostly when I refer to the older generation I will be referring to those who are more advanced than others in physical age and life experience but sometimes it will also refer to those who are further down the line in spiritual age i.e. those who’ve been Christians and walked with God longer than others.
Secondly, I’d really like to invite some dialogue (not mindless, hard-headed debate) on this topic from my peers, those older than me and also those younger than me. I’m 26 currently and the older I get the more I find I don’t know. Part of my motivation in writing this series is a longing for the wisdom of age to help steer my own life to ensure that what God has already poured out doesn’t go to waste but I’ve also done a little research and asked some of my peers how they feel about this issue. Almost all expressed a deep longing and hunger for the strength and wisdom of elders to be imparted to us. Jethro (Moses’ father-in-law) wasn’t a great leader or a prophet but he had the life experience to recognise a man who was over-stretched as well as the wisdom needed to help Moses fulfill his calling even though he himself didn’t have the same calling (Exodus 18:17-27). We need that. Badly.
I once went with a friend (from the older generation) to meet with an older couple in our church who are in their 80s. They’ve been walking with God for almost 3 times my lifespan! Hearing their stories and listening to them say “God is faithful” had a dimension and a weight to it that you just can’t get anywhere else. For them, it’s been tried and tested for longer than I’ve been alive and so receiving that revelation from them plants something in my soul and produces faith! The couple shared about their first experiences of salvation and of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The husband’s eyes, while retelling his tale, glazed over as pure delight flooded him and he wept through the rest of the story, describing the powerful waves of love that poured over him as he encountered God. When did it happen? Around 65 years ago?! I know for sure that I want to encounter God in such a way that I can still be moved by precious moments I’ve had with Him so many years down the line. I know that I want to listen to anyone who has walked closely with Him to receive wisdom, insight and instruction for my own walk.
Breakdowns in communication happen often between generations. Fathers and sons argue, mothers and daughters fall out. Both often end up rejecting each other or agreeing to live at an emotional distance. I really believe this breaks the heart of God. Someone once said that the Father is the lover, the Son is the beloved and the Holy Spirit is the love that they share between one another. I believe the relationships between us, when they’re in full flow, reflect something of God’s glory and bring about His purposes in a way that isn’t possible without them.
I speak on behalf of my generation (having spoken to and listened to some of them) and say spiritual mothers and fathers,
we need you! We will pretend that we don’t. We will reject your help when you offer it. We will ignore your advice when you give it. We are likely to cause you a lot of frustration but please don’t give up! There’s been a lot of frustration and confusion on both sides. The younger generation, in search of spiritual fathers and mothers have felt overlooked or rejected. The older generation in attempts to give counsel and guidance have felt ignored and disrespected. We need the grace of God to bridge the gaps because we NEED each other!
“I believe the relationships between us, when they’re in full flow, reflect something of God’s glory and bring about His purposes in a way that isn’t possible without them.”
I don’t believe that the goal of these relationships is simply to give the younger generation what they want/need. There’s no retirement plan in the kingdom and the older generation are not relegated to the realm of strictly coaching but I believe that they too are to run after God with all they have and continue to pursue His purposes until they crash through the gates of Heaven! I think that the younger generation needs to learn to take batons from people who are running instead of starting the same race over and over again.
I hope that you will stick with this series, though it may be slow in coming. I hope to hear your input whether in the comments section, on my Facebook page or in person. If you have written about this topic I’d love to post helpful links that add to the conversation.
Thanks for reading!