"Who are the older men or women in your life who are a source of wisdom, strength, grace, and encouragement?"
Last month I was at a conference and the speaker asked the audience the above question. So, if you think back at your life, who are the people who have influenced you?
Who are the people who showed you how to follow Jesus?
When I took a moment to reflect on this question, a flood of older women came to my mind. The Sunday school teachers who picked me up for church, a mom in her 40s who loved me and my friends when I was in high school, seniors who met with me for coffee when I was a freshmen at Roanoke College, women at Restoration who have had me over for dinner, and the list goes on...
My life wouldn't be the same without these women. In the case of some of them, I may not have followed Jesus without their influence.
That same speaker also asked:
"Who are the younger men and women in your life and are you a source of these things for them?"
He went on to say that during college and young adult years people either decide to follow Jesus or they decide to walk away. His challenge was that we will lose an entire group of millennials unless we take inter-generational discipleship seriously.
As much as I hate to label myself as a millennial, what I heard him say was startling but true.
I shutter to think about where I would be if I didn't have older men and women who were invested in my life.
In the Bible, Paul modeled this for us with his relationship with Timothy and we can see a glimpse of their relationship in 2 Timothy. With tender love, Paul addresses his letter to "My dear son" and he tells Timothy:
"And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others." - 2 Timothy 2:1
We are given this example of not only receiving guidance from someone older, but also passing along what we have learned.
Imagine what would happen if in our community we were all in a relationship with someone who we could learn from and then we were intentionally pouring into one person who was younger.
I think that we would begin to see more people who enter into adulthood with a security in their identity in Christ. We would see more healing and restoration. We would see more Jesus.
Let me speak for us millennials for a second.
We need you.
It is so easy to feel disqualified, especially in this culture that preaches perfection. Lies crop up about not knowing enough or not feeling like you have enough wisdom. Jesus rarely (aka almost never) chose people who had everything together.
Jesus' disciples didn't "get it" at first, they messed up, they lacked faith sometimes, but ultimately Jesus used them to change the world.
What would it look like to let God work through us to love people who are younger? Who are you going to invest in during 2018?
Thanks for what you already do to love people!
P.S. Listen to the entire teaching from Dr. Gordon Smith here.
- Restoration Kids needs a K-1 teacher and a Sunday School aide! If you have kids, love kids, or act like a kid, this might be the gig for you! These are both a one-time per month commitment, all materials are provided.Contact Julie Habeeb to sign up: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Christmas Eve service will be 4:30pm at the Salem YMCA. Come join us for a candlelight service, perfect for celebrating the Light that came into the world!!
- On New Years Eve, Sunday Dec. 31, instead of meeting at the YMCA, we're going to have brunch together at Mac and Bobs. See you there at 9:30am for some sweet potato pancakes or a Boston Zone!
- If God has blessed you this year, please consider partnering with us and giving a year-end gift. We have big plans for 2018, and want to finish 2017 strong! Checks can be dropped in the towers near the coffee table on Sunday or mailed to P.O. Box 902 Salem, VA 24153 and you can always give online. Deadline for 2017 giving is Jan 3. Please date checks Dec 31, 2017.