Earlier this week, I had the privilege of spending part of my day with a young man from our congregation. It was “take your kid to work day”, and since this particular young man understood his parents’ work, he asked them if he could spend some time with me.
Of course, I readily agreed!
Since no two days of my ministry are alike, I wasn’t sure exactly what we would do, but I invited him to help me with a number of regular activities in the study, and we made a ‘road trip’ to the Canadian Bible Society to pick up a Bible my wife and I want to give to an acquaintance. So I showed him the vast range of English and non-English Bibles available for purchase and distribution. We had lunch, and on the way home we stopped at Tyndale University College & Seminary to see the chapel and the bookstore, where my wife works.
Amid all the activities we undertook from the time I picked him up until I took him home, we chatted about a vast array of matters, including how faith impacts his life as a Grade 9 student. He may have learned a little from me, but I learned a lot from him.
While I may have spent the day mentoring my young friend, he also spoke into my life as a Christian leader.
It leads me to ask you: are you engaged in relationships with people younger than you including (but by no means limited to) your own children?
There is mutual learning that can come from that. The young person understands that you care, in a tangible way, because you are giving him or her the gift of time and wisdom. And you learn from the young person because you get to view life and faith from a very different perspective.
You might think to yourself that you were young once, and that’s certainly true; but the cultural context in which you and I were young is vastly different from the culture in which today’s youth live. And if you’re like me, you don’t often immerse yourself in youth culture today. We need to learn from our young people what life is like for them if we’re going to help equip them, and their parents, for effective Christian living in the current cultural context.
So spend some time praying about whom you might come alongside. Offer that young person your faith and wisdom. And listen to that young person’s story to learn what contemporary culture is really like.
It doesn’t mean that you or the younger person have to change your views on matters of theology, but the dialogue will enrich you both.
The dialogue I shared with my young friend certainly enriched me. Give it a try!
“We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other” (Romans 12.5, NLT).
Encouragement From The Word will return on November 30.