“We must release our children to reach their generation.” My now adult children were teens when I read this “somewhere.” It was timely. It was powerful. It was necessary. It was NOT easy! I was on the fast track to becoming my mother and consequently expecting my children to be me. They were not. My mother, true to her era, held to the doctrine that appearances were vital.
One must look the part so as not to be a stumbling block. She took an unnecessary amount of pressure to keep up appearances. She really didn’t need to. She was the real deal. I didn’t agree with all the legalistic standards she tried to adhere to; but I loved Mom and wanted to please her more than I wanted to push boundaries. My mother’s heart was in the right place. Her faith was genuine and she had a lasting Godly impact upon my life and upon the lives of others – intergenerational impact!
The day I first read my opening statement I knew that I wanted my kids to make a genuine impact for Christ on their generation; and in order to facilitate that I had to let go of some stuff. I tried. Sometimes I succeeded; sometimes not. I also knew that in order for them to make a genuine impact I had to make one too. They needed to see me live for Christ so they would know how. Genuine impact comes from a genuine relationship with God. Mom had that, I was working on mine, and I coveted it for my children.
A whole lot of grace was involved on the journey to freeing my children to live in their own generation. It got messy sometimes. Grace is messy though, isn’t it? That vertical outpouring of love, mercy, and favour that I was so unworthy of is what ought to motivate me toward an horizontal outpouring of the same kind. I like to think that my kids and I were gracious with one another in the process, although, I freely admit that there was some eye-rolling done by all parties involved. That’s okay! We don’t have to agree on everything in order to love, support, accept, and encourage one another – not in natural families and not in God’s Family.
We are giving our attention to the concept of Mutual Health. Being healthy together is not about becoming one another. It is about freeing one another to be ourselves for Christ and respecting what that looks like in our individual contexts. This 50-something year old doesn’t need to squeeze herself into frayed skinny jeans and plug into Tedashii and I shouldn’t expect my younger counterparts to don slacks and embrace Gaither. (Hyperbole people! Jesus was quite fond of using it.) Sometimes the generations do spill into one another and I am thankful for that since it allows me to walk a middle road; wearing sensible jeans and worshipping with Redman! Really we each need to be in our own generation and learn how to reach across them for the good and growth of us all and the good and growth of God’s Kingdom.
Although it will pain some of us to acknowledge it, there was some good in the “good old days.” Back when it was a little more common for all the generations to meet regularly for worship; times when godly older men and women mentored us young ones. They taught us to pray by praying around us, for us, and over us. They demonstrated what it meant to worship passionately and without reserve. One of my favourite memories from the “good old days” is of standing at an altar, amidst a sea of generational extremes worshipping together as the Spirit fell. If only the generations had not become quite so segregated in worship; how good would it be to enjoy such times from the other end of the age spectrum and be the one handing off the torch!
Alas! A new day has dawned. The opportunity for such influence looks different and that’s okay too – as long as the torch gets passed! I’ve gained a new appreciation for the concept of mentoring these days. Earl Creps released me into the concept of Reverse Mentoring some time ago. Older though I am, ministry still brings me into the lives of youngsters and youth from time to time.
In this new day I need fresh insights if I am still going to have an intergenerational impact. For me, that has meant taking lessons from, getting tech tutoring from, following the example of, and checking in with godly younger men and women who are currently making an impact of their own – one of whom just happens to be my own daughter (insert smiling emoji – lol)!
Lost souls span the generations, and if we are going to win the generations to Christ we each need to cultivate a close walk with God. We need to embrace the generation in which God has placed us; as well as respect the generations fore and aft. We must honour God with the giftings and strengths He has placed within us even as we respect the giftings and strengths of our spiritual siblings – regardless of their age. They might just be the complement to our weakness. We must also love, support, accept, and encourage one another; across the spectrum and without reservation. If we do these things, I believe that together we will make a genuine impact upon this and succeeding generations – to the glory of God and the extension of His Kingdom!
About Joy Baker
Joy Baker is a Christian, Wife, Mom, Gramma, Pastor, and Writer. Joy and her husband Wayne have been in ministry for over 23 years. They currently serve the congregation at Maranatha Pentecostal Church in Triton, NL. She loves God, family, seashores, coffee and good books.