Investing in the Next Generation

“We are wise when we learn from our elders and we are wise when we invest in our youth.”

By definition, a sound investment grows. How are you investing in those who are younger both in age and in faith? Regardless of how old you are, who can you come alongside and support or encourage on their faith journey? 

If you have more years under your belt, its easy to think you’ve figured life out. You have a lot of years of experience. You’ve made mistakes. You’ve bounced back. You have lived a unique life that those younger than you have not. The next generation needs you in a way they’ve never needed you before.

They don’t need you to approve or disapprove of their life choices. They’ve grown up with that. They don’t need another voice that says “I told you so.” What they need is a voice that says, “I believe in you. I see you. I know what you’re going through. Even though I might not be able to understand exactly what you are going through in this season of your life, I still want to partner with you. I want to invest in you. Can you look at the next generation and say, “I’m so for you that I want to show up in your life in a way to help you mature, flourish, and grow?”

Showing up like this for a young person is so powerful. It gives them hope. It begins to open the door that allows wisdom to pour out from one generation to the next.

Through the wisdom of our elders, God gives us hope for the future.

And if you are an elder in the room, you can turn that idea on its head.
Through our wisdom as elders, God gives the next generation hope for the future.

For the Younger Generation

Being on the receiving end of this kind of hope absolutely changes the game. 10 months ago, my wife, Carley, and I welcomed our very first child into the world. Since then, the response from our church community has just been incredible.

It’s overwhelming as dozens of you have come up to say a kind word to us. Or you see our exhaustion and offer to hold Zander. Many of you who are ahead of us can just give us a nudge or a look that without words says “Hey, we’ve been where you are and we understand the weird mix of exhaustion and terror…and beauty… and feeling drained… and wanting to keep going, but not being sure if we can… you’ve got this.”

So many of you have been so generous, but there’s one particular family in our church that has stopped Carley, not once but twice in the lobby to give us a gift of children’s books. And every single time they tell us, “Hey, these were books that our kids really enjoyed when they were Zander’s age. We hope that Zander enjoys them too.”

Carly and I have been blown away by their act. But you know what that couple communicated to us without even having to say words? Their words gave a gift of books. Their actions gave us the gift of investment and hope. Without words, they said “This helped us, and so we want to pass this on to you. We believe in you. We are for you. And so keep going.”

When we prayerfully allow the advice, guidance, and support of the past generation – people like parents, coaches, and elders, whether they’re a few years ahead of us or decades ahead of us – we are reaping the benefits of generations of collective wisdom.

Those who invested in us learned from those who invested in them. We’re leaning on generations of collective wisdom. Through this exponential wisdom, we gain insight, we gain perspective, and we gain hope for our future.

Who are the elders in your life? Who are the people God has placed around you who are further along than you are?

Finding others – whether to give wisdom or receive wisdom – doesn’t happen by accident. And in this case, if wisdom is personified in someone older than us, we have to pursue that relationship. It does take work to establish those relationships, but it is well worth it. You and the next generation will be reaping exponential benefits.

For The Older Generation

Now, all of that said a quick word to those of you who might actually be further along on the trail. Maybe YOU are the older generation. Older by decades, older by years. It doesn’t matter. The biblical guidance is the same. Invest in the next generation while still listening to the voices of wisdom who are further along than we are. Receive that wisdom.

Did you know the Bible speaks even more about our passing the baton of wisdom to those younger than us?

Again, we are not only wise when we listen to our elders, we are wise when we invest in our youth. We are wise when we listen to God’s command to the nation of Israel in the book of Deuteronomy

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 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. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” – Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Do whatever you need to do to help the next generation move along their path of faith.

Did you know that every single person who is younger than you looks at you and the way you live your life? What they see helps them to draw conclusions about who God is. And if that’s heavy, it should be heavy. You might say, “That’s for pastors, that’s for people on staff, that’s for gateway leaders.” If you are reading this and say, “I follow Jesus, maybe not perfectly, but I’m doing my best every single day to align more of my life to his,” then this is absolutely for you.

Or maybe you think, “Yeah. I get that this command is for me… but I just don’t understand kids these days. Their work ethic isn’t quite what it was in my generation. They don’t have the same values. They don’t _______________[Fill in the blank].”

There will always be something to critique about the past generation. There will always be something we don’t agree with coming up in the next generation. But the question we have to ask ourselves is, “Are we willing to sit on the sidelines and write off an entire generation because it’s challenging for us?” Or will we be the ones with open hands, saying “God, here I am. Send me to be a voice of influence, a voice of wisdom in someone’s life.”

Related Message

Speaker: Ross Sagehorn