I remember hearing this phrase in my childhood all too often. I was told how things were done different back in the days – mostly trying to relate to my situation at the moment. Sometimes it was reminiscing, sometimes it was educational and informative, but for some odd reason I felt this phrase always had a correcting or scolding power. It either was used to tell me that my struggle wasn’t real, but theirs was when they used to be my age, or things were just so much better than they are now.
As a late Millenial (borderline Gen-X) and raising two Gen-Z-children myself, I realized I am doing the exact same thing. “I am bored” and the children’s request for time on their electronic devices, end up with me giving a history lecture of how we survived with lesser toys and no smartphones, tablets, Netflix and social media. I compare my generation with the younger generation often to reprove their behavior, attitude or actions. I am stuck in the middle of 6 generations. It requires serious skill to be able to connect with all 6, because they are so different in the way they communicate.
Generations are different. People from different ages think different, which causes different behavior and then develops generation specific customs. A lot of times, it has to do with technological advances and historical events. Those different antics collide and cause each generation to have their own struggle. Baby Boomers don’t feel respected, Gen-X doesn’t feel appreciated, Millennials feel restricted, Gen-Z feels everyone needs to relax and just do what they want. Inter-Generational Intolerance causes division – not just generally in society, but in places where God desires to see unity, like our families and our churches.
I have seen parents not being able to understand the next generation and consequently lose their ability to relate to their own children. Fathers and sons, mothers and daughters were turned against each other by generational differences. I have seen pastors lose their audience of the next generation in their churches because of the lack of the ability to relate. All due to the failure to understand, value and embrace the diversity in generations.
I was reminded of the scripture by the prophet Joel that seems to specifically address three different generations with the result of 3 different prophetic manifestations of the Holy Spirit:
Joel 2:28 (NIV), “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
We have a prophetic word from the children, visions from the young men and dreams from the old men. All of these fit in the same category of prophetic gifts, yet they are assigned differently by generation. The Holy Spirit is unique and doesn’t show up in the same exact form on all people. He works in various mysterious ways, we have different manifestations, movements, awakenings, revivals … and He loves to see unity among diversity. We can’t expect that all generations operate the same exact way.
Interestingly, Peter preached the same message of the prophet Joel at the first “evangelistic outreach service” on the day of the Pentecost. This word unified; people from different backgrounds and countries were able to literally understand this message without any cultural or generational differences. The result was powerful in numbers, 3,000 were added to God’s family that day alone.
We find diversity in generations and when they work together, we see a powerful display of God’s move. The body with different giftings only works when they work together – the same principle goes for different generations. We go wrong when we expect everyone to do the same thing the exact same way. We lose the uniqueness of God and are apprehensive to individuality. We can get so caught up with different points of view and traditions between generations that we no longer function as one family for one kingdom, especially in the body of Christ.
Just a few weeks ago my mom passed away. I realized how much of who I am is because of her influence. I have dedicated almost 20 years of my life to missions because of her relentless love as a mother, I left everything I had and knew, to go and make a difference somewhere else in the world. Now, I want to pass on that legacy to my children.
We either embrace what the generation before us has passed on to us or we reject it. I must think about my children, who are completely different, I could try to control their upbringing, but the most I can do is be a good influence. Although they have the same mom and dad, they both turned out completely different. They actually have different sets of rules, because of their different characteristics. When Jesus spoke “3 And He said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3-4 – NIV), He appealed to us that we have to generationally adapt.
Our generation doesn’t have all the answers. We depend on the generations before us, but also need the generation that comes after. Compared to a relay race that requires 4 people on a team to work together, if the transitions don’t work, you are guaranteed to lose.
If as a generation we don’t embrace what the generation before us passed on to us, we fail. If we try to run the race by ourselves to the end without passing on the baton to the next generation, we will fail as well and that is exactly why …
… We Prayerfully Value All Generations: We celebrate all generations and acknowledge that each is essential in the Body of Christ. We honor those who have gone before us and empower those who are following. The contribution of each generation is welcomed and encouraged as we pursue our God given destiny.
Psalm 100:5 (NIV)
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
By: Simon Maschkywitz, Metro World Child-NYC