Don't Forget the Older Generation
Much of my time spent as a Biblical Counselor is focused on serving the younger generation. I have grown to love counseling and mentoring young adult women and teen girls. I am blessed to have these opportunities often, and it has sparked a passion in me for what I call “Intergenerational Ministry.”
I have written on this topic several times on blogs, in some resources I wrote for my website, and in an entire course I offer that teaches women to mentor the next generation. In the majority of these writings I have focused on the call in Titus chapter 2 for women to teach the younger women. We are all older women to somebody, even if you are still in your 20’s, so I will continue to make this my ministry focus as my hope is that more women will become equipped to do deep discipleship (Biblical Mentoring) in their sphere of influence.
I want to take a bit of a different approach here. This time, I want to challenge specifically the younger generation. We are all younger than somebody, but for the sake of this challenge, let’s say that the younger generation is those of you in your 20’s, 30’s and early 40’s. Yes, you have the call to mentor those even younger than you. You can read all about that in my Biblical Mentor materials. My slightly different challenge here to you as younger women is this:
Do not forget the older generation!
Over the past decades, our culture has taught us to sit in classes with only those who are our age, to socialize primarily with those of the same age, to go to church activities segregated by age, to do Bible Studies specifically written for a certain age group, etc. It is well engrained in us to gravitate towards those who are closest to us in age.
This is not always a bad thing. Sometimes, it is helpful and encouraging to sit and talk with people going through the same season of life that you are in. Some good iron-sharpening can happen in those contexts. But I am observing something among women in the body of Christ that troubles me. I see Women’s Ministries full of age segregated events and Bible studies. I see small groups designated only for young couples. I see that when someone from the younger generation visits our churches, those who first approach them to welcome them tend to be those in the same age group. It is rare for a young woman to approach an older couple who walks in the door to visit. (It is less rare to see an older woman greet a very young woman as she walks in the door, but this happens as well.) There are exceptions to this of course, but watch the entrance doors of your church sometime and you will probably make some of these same observations.
Young women: I am concerned that you have forgotten the older generation. When you gravitate primarily to people your own age, to the disregard of the older women, you are missing out on one means of grace that God has given us: one-another. Read all of the one-anothers of Scripture sometime, and you will not find any that are only for certain generations. They are for all of us.
I have heard younger women complain about the lack of mentors in their lives, and I agree with them. This is why a focus of my ministry is to equip women to mentor the younger women. Thus the need for a new season of Women’s Ministry - one that focuses on our Titus 2 calling to teach the younger generation, and not just what to teach them, but why. (Don’t stop at Titus 2:3-5 as most women’s mentoring writings will do. Read the entire chapter, and don’t miss the details!) For the sake of this challenge to you younger women - rather than passing the blame to the older women, please consider what your role is in the lives of women in your sphere of influence.
Is there an older woman that you have never greeted at church? When you plan a get-together, do you invite any older women, or do you always stick to your own age group? When you sign up for a Bible Study, do you check to see if it is age segregated or if there will be mixed generations? Mentoring cannot happen unless we are in mixed situations, obviously, but we so often neglect to acknowledge this.
There are Biblical consequences to forgetting the older generation:
* You become self-centered. "Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." Philippians 2:3-4
* You miss the blessing of wisdom that comes with age. ”Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?" Job 12:12
* You deny an older woman the chance to fulfill her Titus 2 calling. Read the whole chapter.
* You will not learn how to become a mentor when you are the older woman.
Hebrews 13:7 “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.”
* you might be wounding someone by ignoring them and leaving them out.
1 John 4:20 "Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”
* You will only receive advice from those who have no more experience than you do.
Proverbs 15:22 "Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.”
* You are hurting the church by sowing disunity among the generations.
Ephesians 4:1-6 "As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."
Can you extend grace to the older woman who seems to be ignoring you? Perhaps she is uncomfortable about approaching you because she thinks that you will not be interested. Old and young have the very same insecurities and we all need grace. Maybe you can be the one to make the first move. I bet two things will happen: 1. she will be very surprised, because it is unexpected and 2. she will be so blessed. She may end up being a very good friend. I am so blessed to consider several young women among my closest friends, but it took an intentional approach on their side as well as mine. It has been worth it. And…..it is Biblical!
Young ladies, reach out to an older woman soon. I’d love to hear how it goes. For more information about Biblical Mentoring and the concept of Intergenerational Ministry, go to:
I would love to serve you there!
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