Now that I’m in my 50’s, almost half way to 60, (that number looks ominous) I have to admit I am a bit frustrated. In my head I feel 30 something but, of course my body is screaming FIFTY plus! This conundrum has landed me in a very unique, frustrating stage of life.
Along with the battle between my own mind and body comes the realization I am also stuck between generational attitudes and expectations. The younger generation with it’s energy and sense of adventure, technology and trends, and the older generation’s wisdom and traditions, heritage and pioneering. My problem is that our culture has a polarizing affect on these generations and neither seem to want to engage the other…and here I sit between them both.
I so appreciate the wisdom, stories, and encouragement of the women that have helped to mentor me through the different stages of life. Especially those older, who have been there, done that, and forged the paths but, most importantly, have given me the freedom to not do things “the way we’ve always done it” but to be myself and adapt. Learning from their successes and failures.
I also thoroughly enjoy the younger generation and their creativity and passion to embrace new things and change. They are fun and although I cannot always keep up, I always enjoy seeing what they come up with and cheer them on.
My frustration comes when both generations seem to dismiss and devalue each other. I am frustrated with the younger generation making assumptions that people middle aged and older have nothing to offer them and are simply obsolete and irrelevant. And I get especially frustrated when those my age and older dismiss the younger generation as useless and disrespectful because they don’t do things the same way or value the same things.
NEWSFLASH! We are the ones who raised this generation! And now we are going to have nothing to do with them? And the ignorance of youth thinks they don’t need the experience and wisdom of those who have gotten them here? I just want to slap everybody!
I also have a problem with our North American church culture and how we segregate our Sundays generationally. Instead of a truly biblical model of mentoring and discipleship, we keep everybody grouped by age, stage of life or interest. The church has inadvertently fostered this separation by how we “do” ministry. Titus 2 is a clear model of older and younger “doing life together.” I do not learn if I only hang with people my own age, stage of life, common interests and even educational or socioeconomic group. I will become stagnant and, as a believer, useless in what the Lord has called us to. Both outreach/evangelism and discipleship/mentoring. If I do not push myself to get out of my comfort zone with people, ages, even cultures, I cannot be salt and light and I will not impact my world. I will be safe and comfortable. But I find no where in scripture where we are called to safe and comfortable OR “called” to retirement from relationship and mentoring!
My challenge is to all my contemporaries, middle aged and older, to initiate relationships and embrace the younger generation. We should be the ones to reach out to them, not wait for them to come to us. They really don’t know how if we haven’t taken the time to show them.
Change is inevitable and I may be stuck between generations but I, for one, intend to embrace it and encourage the next generation to grow while continuing to learn from those who have seen more life than I. I want to be relevant, real, relational and ready to engage both generations so that the Lord can use both younger and older, to challenge me and expand my vision and use me to do the same for others, regardless of age or differences. Life would be boring if everybody was just like me…seriously!
JOIN ME IN A COMMITMENT TO HAVE THIS ATTITUDE TOWARD EACH OTHER, GENERATION TO GENERATION, SHARING, SUPPORTING, ENCOURAGING ONE ANOTHER – GO TEAM JESUS!
3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. 7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace,[d] both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.