Sunday, August 5, 2012

Generation Next

Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, 
but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct,  
in love, in faith and in purity.

-- 1 Timothy 4:12

Maybe you read the recent newspaper editorial. It wasn't about politics, the economy or even a celebrity or sports team. Instead, the author expressed his deep concern about our nation's youth. He wrote that they're ill-mannered, lack respect for their elders and reflect negative societal influences, violence and danger.

"What will become of our children?" was the distraught writer's rhetorical (but sincere) question. His opinion was that without a drastic change in direction, their future is quite bleak.

Maybe a little background here will put things into perspective. Truth be told, this editorial appeared in a newspaper a few years ago. But it was actually more than a few. In fact, it was a lot more.

(It was actually in the 1840s!)

This just goes to show that some issues are timeless. And when the issue concerns bringing up the next generation, that's a very good thing. Children--as the saying goes--are our future. And that's certainly true for the Church. The Bible tells us that respectful Christ-following children don't just happen by accident. Godly parenting involves intentional actions and instruction. Consider what the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy has to say about emphasizing God's ways to their kids:
"Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."
Children not only look for boundaries of acceptable behavior, they crave direction and seek love and approval. It's when they don't get enough of it from their parents that they can act out, perform poorly at school and gravitate toward the wrong crowd and bad influences. And sadly, many children who grow up in church actually drop out for at least a year once they reach young adulthood.

So what's a parent (new or veteran) to do about this so-called Generation Next? First, understand that parenting is a privilege rather than a burden. And second, remember that God is our Heavenly Parent. That means human parents have the great responsibility of playing His role in the child-rearing process. Therefore, follow God's example for raising Christ-followers: Give them unconditional love and apply consistent discipline. Share your faith with them. And always lead through a positive attitude and outlook on life.

There are no perfect parents. But there is a perfect God. And He's always there to help awaken the next generation of Christ-followers for advancing His kingdom through the Good News of Jesus Christ.

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