How Generations Learn from One Another
My grandfather had a knack for taking familiar sayings and giving them a twist. Take, for instance, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” He’d spice it up a bit with a “… but you can sure make him wish he did” kind of turn. My love for creatively crafting words and phrases no doubt has my grandfather’s fingerprints on pieces of my writing.
On the other side of my family was my grandmother. She often invited me to get my hands wrist-deep in dough whenever she baked bread. To this day, the aroma of hot bread right out of the oven reminds me of how my grandmother taught me that putting my hands to new and out-of-the-ordinary things is not only acceptable but beneficial to life and living.
I can recall countless other ways my grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, elders in the church, and older folks in the neighborhood helped to shape and guide my life in positive ways… from the stories they told, to the lessons they lived, to the ways they included me in their daily activities.
Little did I know as a youngster that my life touched and influenced many of their lives. I had no idea that I actually brought them joy, helped renew their hope, feel young again, feel anything again. And in a few cases, give them another reason to get out of bed each day.
There’s a myth that people of different generations can’t relate—that somehow, young and old have nothing to say to one another, are out of touch, worlds apart. That lore couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, it’s propaganda straight from the pit of hell. It’s a bill of goods sold by the one who wants to divide kingdoms, nations, peoples, and families.
The scriptures are full of stories and messages that urge young and old to care for one another, learn from one another, encourage one another, and spur one another on to a fullness of life ultimately found in relationship with Jesus Christ.
There are passages that encourage the younger to receive from the older:
Deuteronomy 5:16 (ESV)
Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
1 Peter 5:5 (ESV)
Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
Other passages encourage the older to receive from the younger:
Daniel 1:17 ESV
As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. [So, listen to them, they have important things to say].
Matthew 18:10 (ESV)
See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.
1 Timothy 4:12 (ESV)
Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
And there’s a general encouragement to all believers in Christ that we each have something to gain from one another regardless of age and station of life:
Colossians 3:16 ESV
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
I Corinthians 12:12-13, 24-25 (ESV)
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
… God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.
Over the past several years at Forge, I’ve witnessed and experienced the beauty of God’s design of having God lovers and seekers—young to old—come together to love, grow, worship, and learn. Deep Camp, Forge’s multi-generational, weeklong, summer camp in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, often becomes an inter-generational melting pot where young glean from old and old from young as they eat meals together, worship, learn, experience God’s creation, play, relax, hike, canoe, share stories, claim victories, and so much more. Deep Camp becomes for many an anticipated annual opportunity to withdraw from the daily grind that often segments and divides us and engage in the lost art of growing deeper… together.
Not everyone has the capacity to make Deep Camp a yearly event as a reminder of the kind of inter-generational life we were designed to live (though I wish it could be so!). However, whoever we are and wherever we live, we all have the choice to look around us at those younger and older than us and determine to learn from them, love on them, and serve them as God leads.
Yes, you can invite young and old to share life together, but you can’t make them engage… but you can remind them that when they don’t, their lives aren’t nearly as rich and full as when they do.
Interested in Forge Deep Camp? CLICK HERE to learn more about this multi-generational camp!
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