I frequently hear and read comments about the youth of today—the teenagers and young 20’s crowd. They are depicted as rude, spoiled, uninterested, and looking for entitlement. While there are certainly some in that age group that would fall into those stereotypes, I have interacted with people of all ages that fall into those stereotypes. I have come to belief that it is not age that counts—but rather attitude!
My Saturday long training runs are done on a very popular course that runs adjacent to the Little Blue River. It is beautiful, pretty flat, and for the most part allows runners and cyclists to avoid traffic. The two local high school cross country teams do some of their training on this course.
Yes, as an older guy training to “finish” it could be demoralizing to have these teenagers flying by me, but it’s not. You see these young runners, at their peak, are an inspiration. Most of them will give me a “hi”, or “good morning”, and some of them will even speak words of encouragement like “good job”, “you got this”, and one even slowed down yesterday to tell me that I “inspire her to keep going”!
Then I go to church this morning and the youth were standing at the entrances with welcoming and encouraging signs. Now yes, they might have been asked to do this by the Youth Pastor, but when they noticed your car window down they interacted and not in a way that could be directed from any person. They showed genuine hospitality and joy that you were there!
This morning I was in a store where a manager (early-60’s) was reprimanding a worker (mid-20’s) because she had taken the customer’s (late-80’s) cart to her car. I didn’t hear the whole conversation but basically the manager was upset because the worker (who got someone to cover for her) did something that is not in her job description. The worker’s answer touched my heart when she said, “No it isn’t, but it’s what Jesus would do.”
So, within about 24 hours I saw the “kids of today”. I was impressed and moved! Those that I had the privilege of crossing paths with showed kindness, respect, and love. Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 4:12 and I appreciate how the Message Bible puts it, “Get the word out. Teach all these things. And don’t let anyone put you down because you’re young. Teach believers with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity. Stay at your post reading Scripture, giving counsel, teaching. And that special gift of ministry you were given when the leaders of the church laid hands on you and prayed—keep that dusted off and in use.”
The kids of today will make mistakes and have some poor judgement—exactly the same as my generation and yours. Demeaning and dismissing them is not the answer. God’s Word tells the youth to not let anyone put them down because they are young, what would give anyone older the idea that we have the right to put them down because they are young?
It’s okay not to see eye-to-eye on issues as long as the discussion is blanketed in kindness, respect, and love and we learn from each other and most importantly come together in unity of Jesus Christ.