I’m not sure when it happened. I graduated high school, Ronda and I got married, we had children and before I knew it…I was old. I really can’t pinpoint the moment when it happened, but I do know the moment when I realized that I had gotten old. It was revealed in a simple, yet revealing statement, “That’s not music…they’re not even singing!” In an instant I had become my father. One minute I was an idealistic young adult ready to stick it to “the man” and change the world; the next I was “the man” and all I wanted to do was find my recliner and be left alone.
I guess can take some comfort in the fact that I am not alone. I often hear my contemporaries complaining about the youth of today. They are lazy, their music is offensive, they are overly dependent on technology and choices in fashion are comical (as if polyester shirts, platform shoes and feathered hair is any better). Of course, this a narrative that has been playing out for centuries. The Greek poet Hesiod wrote, “I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on frivolous youth of today. For certainly all youth are reckless beyond words...when I was young we were taught to be discrete and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise (disrespectful) and inpatient of restraint.” That was almost 3000 years ago.
Lest we forget, throughout history God has chosen to work through young people. Samuel was just a boy when God called him. Josiah was eight years old when he became king and is considered to be one of great reformers in Israel’s history. Mary, through whom the Messiah would enter the world, was only a teenager when an angel of the Lord appeared to her. It would appear that young people have played rather significant roles in God’s plan.
One of the reasons I enjoy working with students and young adults is that their faith can be truly inspirational. Many of them embrace their commitment to Christ with a wide-eyed enthusiasm that has not yet been beaten down by the world. Unskilled in the subtle art of compromise, they are truly willing to follow “wherever He leads.” No task it too big, no journey is too far, they just believe that they can do “all things through Christ who strengthens [them].”
While it may be easy to criticize young people for their inexperience and impetuousness, we should also remember that we also were once young. We were once passionate, idealistic and really believed that we could make a difference. Rather than telling them what they can’t, maybe we should allow them to show us what we still can.
In His Service,