So I will be posting articles from our old Newsletters in the next few weeks. The following was one fo the first articles from 2009:
When people ask me my age, I will often reply that I have been 21 years old for about eleven years now. In a failed attempt to be a jokester, it is also backed by a desire to remain soulfully youthful, relational, and transparent. The beauty about young people is that they have this desire to be heard, affirmed, or simply known for who they really are and where they are at.
Having been younger, a teenager to be specific, at one point in my life I reflect on how difficult it was relating or opening up to adults. I was raised in a pretty conservative family while attending an even more conservative Baptist church. I was taught to respect my elders- as taught by the “Bible”. It is a valuable and important teaching. However, I have to confess, I am understanding how easy it is for me to abuse this teaching by assuming a posture of entitlement towards young people, entitlement to treat them however I wish or demanding they treat me a certain way simply because I am an adult. The problem with this is it excuses me from considering the stories of young people, which, in my youth, I found to be true of many adults. This is a difficult dynamic when teaching young people, because it allows me to forget that I too was there at one point. I see the disconnect between generations. I have observed and experienced what happens when an adult, who knows nothing about a young persons’ background or experience, does not take the time to get to know the young person and their story. They expect respect, not understanding that the youth has been consistently wronged by adults- either in actuality or by their perception.
The problem has less to do with age then it does human dignity- loving and respecting people that we engage with regardless of age. The other verse that addresses adults to not frustrate young people (see Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:21) will empower the elder to listen, affirm, and build relationships which in turn creates a relational synergy of respect.
Each person, regardless of age, has much to give our community if we take the time to find out what it is- whether it be the passion of youth or the wisdom of the elders. If we take the time to hear and share the stories that create our lives, we will build relationships that will recreate a relational synergy of respect- respect that we all want, respect that builds a strong community.
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