Merging Generations – Mike Worth

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Early in life I was split on my opinion of adults. For me there were two categories: those who would accept me, and those who would not. My level of comprehension and maturity was limited during this time in life, and I began to develop a pattern of judgment going into adulthood. I didn’t realize that this pattern was developing into division, keeping my generation from merging with the generation I wanted to be a part of. Facing the reality of this issue became obvious to me later in life – the existing and emerging generations had to become one with each other.

I loved being around older people when I was young. In my adolescent years I wanted to sit and listen to my father and his company. I recall the disappointment when my father would tell me it was time to leave them alone, more than likely to talk about “adult” things. I regretted this to the point of holding it against my father, and he had no idea this would become a hindrance for me later in life. While there remained a desire to be around older people, I struggled with the perception that there were those who would not accept me. I began to ask this question: “Why does this have to be this way?”

The first step was discovering the historical culture of my father’s generation and how it impacted me. I remember my father making this statement frequently: “Children should be seen and not heard.” In other words, children need to be quiet around adults. This perception meant the thoughts of a child are irrelevant, and those of an adult take precedent. This has nothing to do with teaching a child courtesy and respect that allows them to learn patience when communicating. Society is impacted today because teaching respect at an elementary level is diminished, leaving them without a foundation of how to communicate. As a side note, teaching our children how to do this should always be done with love and patience.

Rooted in this historical cultural mindset, I couldn’t comprehend that a child could be part of an adult conversation. As an adult, I would watch others taking a moment in the middle of an adult conversation to explain something elementary to a child. It was contrary to everything I was taught. Embracing this would require a transformation for me, identifying the culture I was raised in, and the next “phase” of change would require time and practice. I had to allow my feelings that were contrary to my past to surface. This was a reality I had to work through, and if I want change to occur, then I must be willing to allow a cultural shift. And it can, because I have a Father who has a desire and hope for my transformation. A scripture that has helped me over the years is from Isaiah 1:18-19.

“‘Come now, and let us reason together’, says the Lord, ‘though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.’”

I find it amazing that we can reason, one on one, with God! His desire is not to “tell me” what to do, but rather to discuss the truth, allowing the opportunity to reach into the recesses of my heart. When I willingly approach Him with my thoughts and intent, His perfect love and patience transforms me. But think about this for a moment: it is not in the answer(s) that I have my resolve – it is the transference of life and love, from His heart into mine, seeing as He sees, hearing the same way Jesus heard our Father. While the answer(s) is (are) great, it is the transformation of heart patterns that directly equates to a renewed life.

This becomes a historical and cultural shift in what I do and say, creating a balance I want in my daily life. This balance begins to remove the distance between the existing and emerging generations. As I become transformed with this renewed thinking, I no longer base what I do on the past. Here is my opportunity to change, seen from a perfect perspective, from a perfect Father.

A favorite scripture of mine that looks into generational differences is about Elihu in Job 32:2-5. It contains an example of respect as he addressed men senior to him.

“Then the wrath of Elihu, the son of Barachel, of the family of Ram, was aroused against Job; his wrath was aroused because he justified himself rather than God. Also against his three friends his wrath was aroused, because they found no answer, and yet had condemned Job. Now because they were years older than he, Elihu waited to speak to Job. When Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, his wrath was aroused.”

To comprehend what Elihu was feeling requires an understanding of the Hebrew word “wrath” that means, “from the rapid breathing in passion.” All of us are capable of becoming angry. However, when anger is aroused to the point that breath is almost uncontrollable, it describes a condition beyond being mad. This state of mind consumes every fabric in the being of a person. I am of the opinion that Elihu was experiencing something that was spiritual, something pure and unadulterated. It is critical to see something in this scenario: Elihu was not in a place of hatred, and he certainly did not despise those he was about to address. The only way Elihu could release what was on his heart was because of relationship – a deep relationship – with the men he was about to address. He was not angry or hateful toward his friends; on the contrary, he loved them and held a high degree of respect toward them. Elihu continues his dialog, addressing Job and the three friends for the next six chapters!

The profound part is in this short sentence: “Now because they were years older than he, Elihu waited to speak to Job.”  While I did not like or agree with my father that “children should be seen and not heard,” I will admit there is a truth I learned and add to the statement: listening before speaking is important. And while it is  important to listen with our natural ears to gather facts and data, it is equally important, if not more so, to listen with our spiritual ears, the ears of our heart. I believe Elihu heard directly from Father, a direct parallel Jesus demonstrated on a regular basis. One of the attributes of God as Father is His perfect respect, demonstrated through His Son, being the example for everyone to embrace. Though Elihu was younger than those surrounding him, his respect demonstrated a level of maturity that allowed Father to speak through him. It was only after this encounter that, in willing obedience, Job listened to the voice of God. The process of transformation began to change the heart of Job, leading him to the place of repentance and restoration.

Another important point is how Job and the three friends respond to Elihu: There is no response! When God opened a door for Job through Elihu, He provided what was necessary to re-establish Job and his three friends into a deeper relationship with Him – the same passionate relationship Elihu had with God.

God combines an existing and emerging generation to reveal another perspective of Who He is. The result is not singular by any means; when God does something, the results are manifold, addressing many avenues of life. This is how profound and amazing our Father is! The revelation of our Father’s heart becomes layers of understanding, ready to be unfolded to each and every generation. The question I ask is this: Will I address the cultural and historical protocol in the life I am living that allows my life to be transformed?

As individuals, it is up to us to seek what Father wants to do in our personal lives first in order to release what He has in store for our families, both natural and spiritual. It will affect our families, community, and workplaces because of the transformation that takes place. For this reason I believe the existing and emerging generations are in the initial throes of relationship as never seen before. I leave you with this scripture from Matthew 6:33.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”