Mentoring: Where Older Folks Can Impact the Younger Generation
We live in a society where the family structure has changed dramatically from what it was even just 50 years ago. There are far fewer homes with a father and mother and their biological children. There are many more homes with second marriages, step-children, and single parents. We can sit and debate the pros and cons of this social paradigm shift all we want, but the fact remains that as the church we need to stand ready to love and support every family that walks through the doors.
Of course we never want to condone sin. It seems the word sin as it relates to people’s relationships has become very blurry in our culture of “acceptance.” But the Bible still lays a blueprint for the right and the wrong way to do things. To this end we must uphold that Biblical truth regardless of shifting cultural opinions.
I can think of no better way to share Jesus with someone (outside the Gospel message) than offering practical advice and support for where they are today. The old saying “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” is both relevant and applicable here.
A good example of what I mean is found in this article by Kendra Fleming called “Getting it Right.” The article offers some practical ways mothers can help their daughters to be a better mother by supporting their efforts, encouraging them, offering advice, and jumping in to help with the work load. These are all very good suggestions that can be applied whether it is our child or not.
The insight reminds me of Titus 2:3-5. In these verses Paul is encouraging the “older” women to teach the “younger” women. No doubt there is an inference of mother’s teaching their daughters. But the greater meaning of the passage is an encouragement for older women to teach any and all younger women as they have opportunity. An even broader application of this passage communicates that older, wiser adults should be actively teaching those that are younger.
There is no doubt in my mind that the roles of father and mother as described in the Bible, as God intended them to be, are lost on a younger generation. After years of seeing divorce, abuse, distorted pictures on television (think Simpsons and Everyone Loves Raymond), and attacks from Hollywood, many are simply confused about what it means to be a biblical husband and father, or wife and mother.
A few years ago I taught an 8 week series titled “Biblical Gender Roles;” it was the culmination of many months of study and many books read on the subject. I took the church I was at through this series and wasn’t entirely surprised by the reaction. While the material was well received by many, there were those who blasted me for being “out of touch” and “old fashioned.” I suppose if teaching what the Bible says makes me “out of touch” and “old fashioned” I am okay with that. What I have trouble with is Christians that don’t want to adhere to God’s definition of husband, father, wife, mother, and family. God has never altered the definition of these words, and the Scriptures are still as relevant and applicable today as they were when written. If we are going to call ourselves Christians we must adhere to what the Bible says; even if society finds it distasteful. Remember, God uses the foolish things of this world to confuse the wise (1 Cor. 1:27).
I can see, now more than ever, a desperate need for older, wiser, Godly men and women to take us young (notice I put myself in the young category) parents under their wing and be a mentor. While I seek to counsel and offer advice and help to parents I know that I still need mentoring myself. I certainly don’t have it all figured out yet. (Anyone got any advice for nipping a smart mouth in the bud?)
To those older, wiser, Godly men and women out there wondering if there is a place for you; the answer is YES! Seek out a young family that you can get to know, invest your time and share your wisdom. Don’t keep all those years of parenting and being a spouse to yourself, God allowed you to see these “golden years” so you can invest in the lives of a younger generation searching for answers.
To younger parents/spouses: be willing to ask for help. I would be the most arrogant person in the world to act like I knew everything about parenting and being a husband. But I don’t. And I need to be humble enough to ask for help.
And to both groups: be willing to listen and respect one another’s differences. Every suggestion doesn’t have to be taken, and every suggestion is not an insult. Be willing to share, listen, and respect one another.
I can only imagine the impact on our families if the “older” would actively invest in mentoring the “younger” as Paul instructs in Titus. How much heartache, pain, and loss could be avoided if we had Godly mentors we could turn to anytime for wise counsel?
That’s an investment with an eternal rate of return.