Monday, February 18, 2013

The Generation Gap

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. (Titus 2:3-5)

This weekend was Disciple Now in my community. If you’re not familiar, Disciple Now is a mash-up of church camp, small group, and slumber party. We hosted seven high school girls over the weekend.

The command for the older women to teach the younger doesn’t have any conditions attached. It’s not something reserved for a select, specially gifted few. I’m not saying everyone has to start helping with the youth group, but all of us should be reaching out to the women coming along behind us.

And yet we don’t. We think we’re too busy or too tired or just don’t have anything to offer. We not only fail younger women when we do that, we miss out on the blessings that come when we build relationships with them. We also need to actively seek out those ahead of us. I still have a lot to learn. Being a 40-year-old mother of teenagers is not uncharted territory. I'm far too independent for my own good.

I was blessed immensely by having these girls in my home. I wondered why we cut ourselves off from other generations. As I mused over this, here are some of the things I considered.

Rumors of the generation gap are greatly exaggerated.

I was sixteen in 1988. No, I didn’t know what the internet was, and if you would have tried to explain a smart phone to me I would have thought you were talking about an episode of the Jetsons. But I was struck by how everything these girls did and said was just like my friends and me at the same age. They painted their nails and braided each other’s hair. They discussed boys, school, and menstrual cramps. They simultaneously crave and fear the freedom of adulthood. Pretty much like every generation that’s come before them.

No age group is inherently more sinful or righteous.

I started working in drug stores at the age of seventeen. The first shoplifter I ever encountered was a little white-haired lady who was older than my grandparents. Laziness, dishonesty, and general foolishness are human problems, not special sins reserved for young people.

Older people have been lamenting “kids these days” for decades (perhaps forever). I hated it when I was a kid, and I hate hearing people my age doing it. If you think the younger generation is a lost cause merely because of the date on their birth certificates, you are making far too much of your own era and far too little of the power of the Holy Spirit.

They’re not going to get everything right.

Our job as we mentor those younger than us is to teach them and point them to the truth. This, though, is a process. It took me years to obtain what little wisdom I have. Why should I expect these young girls to pick it up in a single Bible study session? Yes, they will sometimes say things that are foolish. So do we. Yes, they will have erroneous ideas about God and his word. So do we. We shouldn’t hold them in disdain just because they’re not as far along in their faith as we are.

We see this idea in Philippians 3:14-15: "I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you." (emphasis mine)

We should always be pressing forward in our walk with God. We need to exhort and correct others. But God will reveal himself to those that are his. Some people insist on learning things the hard way. We should do what we can, but the end result is in God’s hands.

Though they need us, they need Jesus more.

People need to be loved. They need someone to tell them why they’re here. They need a Savior. The people who had the biggest influence in my life were not the ones who tried to be cool or cutting edge, but the people who listened to me and loved me, who offered gentle wisdom but still supported me when I ignored it and screwed up.

It’s a miracle that God could save a silly girl like me. It’s also a miracle that he can use a foolish, flawed woman to do his work. But that’s how he does things. To him alone be the glory.


  1. If we older people (I am a senior citizen) act like we have it all together, we do not teach younger people about confession, repentence and restoration, that it is much more than saying "my bad". Also we teach a lot about God's grace when we live it, show it to others, and receive it ourselves.

  2. Wonderful post Staci! I think a 40 year old woman has a great advantage in mentoring teens and young moms because of her vitality and also because she can relate parenting skills more effectively because she's still there. (It's amazing how much we forget over time :) I was 16 in 1967 and you're right there's essentially nothing new under the sun - except the technology. There are certain lifestyles now I think that are acceptabe which were still frowned upon then, despite the 60's - and I think that has put more pressure on young people today. I saw that shift pretty dramatically here on the west coast in the public schools in the 10 years between our eldest and youngest. But the solution remains ageless and as always is mighty to transform.