On Our Hearts and Theirs

So, I fell off the blog wagon a month ago, but I’m trying again, or should I say I’ve finally settled on some shareable thoughts.  I’m trying to learn to speak more from my heart than my mind…but its a challenge for me.  Yet, it’s where my heart has been that has made it a challenge to write lately.

I am full of joy, excitement, ideas and vision like never before in my new role.  I’m thrilled and amazed at some of the developments that have come about in our church family over the past months.  But I know some aren’t so happy.  People I have respected and looked up to for years are concerned, as I would expect them to be…

These commandments I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them upon your children.  

I read recently that for any culture to have continuity in its customs at least three generations must be walking together.  Counting generations is tricky, but I would say that I am part of a church family with at least 4 generations: my children, my generation, my parent’s generation and my grandparent’s generation.  In our fellowship, I believe the greatest “generation gap” comes between the oldest two generations.  The life experiences of the baby boomers have altered their perspective and subsequent generations have followed.  Or, as is sometimes the case, my generation has come to different conclusions and our parents have followed.

The mantle of leadership in our body has only recently been put upon the shoulders of the boomers, and as was feared by the older generation (and hoped for by the younger generations) they are opening the door to a degree of change .  Most noticeably of late they have allowed, even publicly endorsed, freedom of expression in worship.  (For our purposes I’m not interested in entering the decades long worship debate here, I’ll simply state that worship is what we do in response to that which we find to be worthy of our love, devotion, awe and allegiance.  Responses are not scripted, they are provoked and evoked, in the case of Christian worship, by an awareness of the presence of God.)

I believe the “commandments” have been passed down and will continue to be passed down in tact.  However, we are at a crossroads when it comes to methods of impressing.  So here is the question we must consider.  Recognizing that how we have learned and taught the important things of the faith sometimes become as meaningful to us as the truths themselves, how do we navigate through an age of significant transition in methods and maintain loving relationships across the generations.

To the generation of my children, for the most part you have no idea that there is any transition in process.  Our prayer for you is that we will do nothing to come between you and God.  Your awareness of His presence is so much greater than ours, and we hope it stays that way for you.  Your young lives get so busy, but I pray that you slow down enough to get to know some of the people in all three of these prior generations.  You have the opportunity to hear first hand accounts from my grandparents of the Great Depression, World War II and the rapid progress our nation experienced in so many fields as our “greatest generation” came home from Europe and went to work.  By the time you retire the Great Depression will be a century and a half in the past, the same distance between us and the Civil War today, and you can tell stories you heard from those who experienced it.

To my generation, appreciate the faith and practice of the two generations before you.  Churches in America saw their greatest period of growth in the 50’s when our grandparents were our age, and our fellowship was one of the fastest growing at that time.  Yes, times have changed and sadly we are proud to be declining at a slower rate than some others, but never forget that there is wisdom and experience to be gleaned from those who go before.  Work to build relationships with those who are ahead of you in this walk.  They may not live in “your world” but they do have perspective to speak meaningful critique into it.  The world in which they reared children was different, but perhaps they can let us in on some secrets that today’s culture masks.  Also, remember they have had time to see the outcomes of their parenting and to reflect upon what they might have done differently.  Listen to those incites.

To my parent’s generation, we are all looking to you now to lead the body of Christ.  We commit to walk with you.  You have waited in the wings longer than most generations, but don’t rush now, on average you will stay healthy and active longer, so you will have plenty of time in the driver’s seat.  Be true to yourself and take the paths you believe to be best based upon your years of study and experience.  Continue doing so gracefully as I see you desiring to do.  Never stop saying the things that are on your hearts.  When you see us younger folks developing bad habits and attitudes, tell us so – you have earned the right to speak into our lives.  Express your love to those who disagree with you.  Even if your heartfelt expressions are rejected, it will help me know how to treat you a couple of decades from now 🙂

To my grandparent’s generation, we know you have led us diligently and faithfully.  You no longer lead in formal capacities, and that must be a strange feeling after so many years, three decades for some, of leading God’s people.  But your voices are still heard.  Today’s leadership is taking to heart the things you say now, even if they don’t make the decisions you wish they would.  Your legacy will always remain, because the generation that leads now has followed you for so long.  If they did not love and respect you they would have left a long time ago, when their peers did.  If I did not love and respect you I would have given up on our fellowship a long time ago like many of my most passionate friends did.

Seriously, I wish more of my generation could sit in on the meetings I’ve been in over the past decade and a half.  I’m privileged to see the bare hearts and hear the thoughts that have been refined by decades of study, prayer and life experience.  God meant for each generation to learn from the prior.  Yet, recognizing that the previous generations were faithful in their time, this generation must pave the way through each new day seeking the guidance of the Spirit of God to help us be faithful in our time.  May God bless us and be gracious unto us.

Always in Him,

Wes

PS.  You may wonder about the picture with this blog.  That’s my Uncle Bill holding his beloved granddaughter.  He made the most of the time he had and I will never forget the time my dad, brothers and I spent with him as we rang in 2010.  It has been just over a year now since he passed from this life, all too soon.  I thank God for the prior generations that have shaped me in so many ways.  I pray that I never lose focus and actually gain some intensity in developing the generations that are coming behind.

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