Inter-Generational Unity - Nadine Templer

As we strive for unity, one aspect that is often overlooked is the unity between generations, between young and “older” folks, the old guard and the new.

By the grace of God, we have raised a generation of young people who are smart, eloquent, and who know how to analyze what they are taught. We trained them with the scripture in Acts 17:11: “(The Bereans) were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with great readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” (NKJV) They know to ask the “why” behind the deeds, the advice, or instructions.

So now they are questioning -- not in a rebellious way, but in a curious way. They are not afraid to disagree and debate. The vast majority of those youth are young people who love God and love the church. They are searching for their path and analyzing their faith, the same way we did when we were young. They are born leaders, getting ready for us to pass the baton to them.

Let us not forget that when Jesus chose his disciples, he chose young people. Jesus mentored, but he did not micro-manage or “control”. He allowed his young disciples to make mistakes. He listened and asked a lot of questions. As he trained Peter, for example, he often asked him questions (Matt 14:31 and Matt 16:15).

As older seasoned Christians, what is our responsibility? Should we resist change, label the youth as rebellious or divisive, and push back? Or should we embrace, listen, and gently guide? Let us take to heart the scripture in Proverbs 18:13: “He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.” (NKJV)

The new generation is thirsting for mentoring -- mentoring, not control or micro-managing. They want to be inspired, observe great examples, ask questions. They also want to be taken seriously, valued, and respected. They often complain of “tokenism”, when one young person is occasionally “allowed” at the table, instead of being an integral part of discussions and decisions.

As “older” people we are used to being listened to, respected, and obeyed. How do we return the favor though? 2020 is a year of reckoning. Many issues that had been lying dormant, just like a sleeping volcano, are now bubbling up to the surface. As mature folks, we are used to being in control. We are now faced with the reality that control simply does not belong to us. And the youth are questioning. They are questioning on issues of justice, they are questioning what can sometimes be seen as legalistic practices, they are questioning the reasons why we do what we do.

I suppose it will take humility. From all sides. Including from us, the older ones. Let’s model patience, listening, compassion, and empathy. How are the youth supposed to be humble unless we model it for them?

By Nadine Templer, October 3, 2020

Nadine Templer is the Senior Director-Volunteer Corps for HOPE worldwide. Mark and Nadine recently moved from Washington, DC to Kathmandu, Nepal. As a couple, they have spent most of their adult life on the mission field serving the Lord’s church. Nadine was born in France and baptized in London. She is passionate about serving the youth, the marginalized, and those who are less privileged.