A battle has been waged. Casualties have been the result. Those who are not ‘dead’ are injured and slowly dying.
What is wreaking so much havoc?
AN ALL OUT WAR!
A culture war best known as: ‘The Generation Gap’.
For centuries, it would seem as though men and women, boys and girls, young and old, have been at odds with each other. One group trying their best to control, the other group trying their best to rebel. Though neither side would choose to see their intentions in this light, the reality of what drives their actions cannot be denied.
All of this is simply the result of two people groups who cannot see and hear the heart of one another – two people groups who strive AGAINST each other instead of working WITH each other. The ultimate disservice?
It saddens me to think of all the frustrated people there have been throughout the years. Young people frustrated by an older generation who seems stuck in a time warp where things never progress or change, and older people frustrated by a younger generation who is racing full speed ahead towards a time continuum where freakishly abnormal possibilities await. One generation stuck; the other generation pushing. One generation unyielding; the other generation unstoppable. One generation right; the other generation right. One generation wrong; the other generation wrong.
Because young people have never been old, it would seem somewhat unfair to expect them to be sympathetic towards the thoughts and opinions of the older generation. But, since old people have been young, it is absolutely within the realm of justified expectation to expect them to be sympathetic towards the thoughts and opinions of the younger generation. For so is the path they once walked.
It would seem to me as if older people often feel ‘entitled’: entitled to respect – entitled to authority – entitled to be heard. And on the other hand, it seems to me as if younger people also feel ‘entitled’: entitled to respect – entitled to authority – entitled to be heard. Just who really is the entitled group?
I believe if we would apply a few principles, everyone would be happy and the war could finally end with a cease fire; BOTH sides willingly waving the white flag of surrender. What are the principles of which I speak?
- Both sides must come to the conclusion that with age does come knowledge. Notice I did not say wisdom. The two are vastly different. Young and old alike can possess godly wisdom. Just because someone has more years under his belt, it does not mean he is ‘wise’. But, it does indeed mean he has been around the block a time or two and has learned a few things in the process – things worth passing along; things worth listening to.
- Both sides need to come to the conclusion that age is not a determinate factor of respect. Old AND young deserve each other’s respect.
- Both sides need to come to the conclusion that EACH side has something valuable to offer in discussions. It is indeed a fact that ‘perspective’ changes with age and can become skewed. A fresh outlook on situations and circumstances from younger eyes can help refocus vision and bring clarity to the table. In the same manner, perspective seen from eyes of “been there – it doesn’t work” can bring balance and stability to the young “nothing-can-go-wrong” visionary.
- Both sides need to come to the conclusion that they NEED each other. Without the knowledge and experience of the older generation and the vision and energy of the young generation, nothing much would be accomplished.
- Both sides need to come to the conclusion that ‘questioning’ does not equal rebellion or oppression. Asking questions is most necessary in understanding where one another is coming from and in no way indicates that the younger generation is in rebellion nor that the older generation is trying to be oppressive or controlling.
“Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God.” – Leviticus 19:32
“Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old.” – Proverbs 23:22
“Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity.” – I Timothy 5:1-2
“Let no one despise your youth.” – I Timothy 4:12 ((Interesting note: youth is despised when displayed in immaturity, hence the reason for the admonition by Paul for Timothy to BE an example.))
The apostle Paul made it clear that he took great interest in the younger generation who was coming up behind him. He repeatedly called Timothy his ‘son’. Paul looked at the prospect of grooming Timothy and mentoring him as a great and wonderful opportunity to pour his life into a young protégé who would continue to grow and develop into a world changing leader. Paul was not dictatorial nor oppressive in his guidance of young Timothy and from all accounts, it appears as though Timothy was a respectful young man eager to learn from someone more seasoned than himself.
I have found through the years that the number one frustration from BOTH sides of the generation gap is the feeling that their ideas and thoughts are not heard. Most have no problem expressing those ideas or thoughts but many times – because of the struggle and the battle – the words are simply not heard. They are argued to the ground before understanding has an opportunity to develop.
There is much beauty in the mentoring relationship. May we begin to focus on that and stop this WAR. There have been enough casualties already. It is time to truly empower the next generation by Raising Timothy!