Millennials — just the mention of that label brings to each one of our minds certain opinions. To some of us, it describes the next generation — one that is seemingly doing everything they can to question and to change what has been. To others of us, it describes who we are; and the very mention of it fills our hearts with hope for what God can use us to do for His glory in our time.
I am a Millennial. Along with many of the people in my generation, my heart is filled with the hope of what God is going to do in and through my generation. Yet, truth be told, as I watch what is happening amongst many of my peers, my heart is also filled with a deep sense of caution. This is in a great part because so many of my peers are going down a path that is vastly different than what we were taught and what we saw exemplified by our fathers in the faith.
For a while, I could not help but wonder why. It has been said, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” So I thought, “Why try to change something God has used for decades?” The changes I was seeing were baffling to me; and they were coming from people I thought knew better.
But, then I realized in having dozens of conversations with people in my generation who are struggling with where they stand, much of the reason Millennials are questioning “what has been” is because it hasn’t been effective in their perspective. They were raised in churches that were so steeped in traditionalism that they had ceased listening to the voice of God’s Spirit giving them vision for the future. Such churches operated merely expecting the next generation to jump on board with what has been, without ever explaining why it has been. (In many cases, this is because they do not have a biblical reason for why they are continuing with the traditions they hold to.)
In the process, many of my generation did not buy in. They wanted something genuine to believe in and hold to, but all they were offered was a rebuke for questioning what has been. So, many of my generation have turned to people who do take the time to give them a purpose to believe in — even if that purpose is contrary to what the scripture actually teaches.
Whereas the previous generations were used greatly of God by being Scripturally relevant, many in my generation have listened to another voice that has told them that they cannot be used greatly of God without being culturally relevant. Thus, they have forsaken the counsel of the old men and have subscribed wholeheartedly to the voice of the young men whose voices resonate with what they want to hear.
I was able to attend two great Bible colleges. In both of those Bible colleges, we were taught the truth of God’s Word without compromise and we were given a scriptural philosophy of ministry. Yet, I have also seen in the days after graduating, that many of the peers I sat in classes next to have chosen to go down a path different than what we were taught. It is also becoming more and more evident that the reason for why so many of them have is related directly to where they went after they graduated and who they allowed to influence them. (i.e., The guys who went to scripturally relevant ministries have stayed that way while the guys who went to culturally relevant ministries have gone that way.)
All this has filled my heart with great pause. It seems like such a new problem. Yet, this epidemic that is taking place right before our eyes is not new. The Bible says, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). As we look to the Scripture, we discover there that what is taking place has indeed happened before. (And we see the consequences of such choices.)
In I Kings 12, the Bible gives us the record of the transition that took place from Solomon’s generation to Rehoboam’s generation. Solomon had done much to try to invest in and prepare his son for when it was his time to take the lead of the next generation — he wrote the book of Proverbs to provide his son with much counsel. Yet, Solomon’s investment in preparing his son had not been perfect. In many ways, what he said did not line up with what he did.
After Solomon was gone, it was up to Rehoboam what he would do with what he had been given. Certainly there had been flaws in Solomon’s example and practice; but it was equally just as certain that God had tremendously blessed Solomon’s life and work. Now, Rehoboam had to determined if he would listen to the wisdom of the generation before him or subscribe to the opinion of his own generation. The Bible tells us in one verse which decision he made.
“But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, and which stood before him:” (I Kings 12:8)
Rehoboam chose the more appealing message, the more appealing vendetta — he chose to listen to his peers rather than to his predecessors. The consequence, which he did not understand, was a great division amongst God’s people from that day forward.
It sincerely bothers me that so many in my generation of Christian ministers and workers are subscribing more to the philosophies and counsel of their peers rather than their predecessors.
This is not to say that we cannot be sharpened by our peers (Proverbs 27:17). But there is a difference between being sharpened by your peers and being shaped by your peers. Rehoboam was not sharpened by his peers, he was shaped by them — and it ruined the entire direction of his life calling. It is a foolish choice indeed to forsake everything your fathers in the faith have taught you to subscribe to the things your friends in the faith are telling you.
Let us not forsake the counsel of the “old men” for the “young men” — those who have come before us have so much for us to learn from if we will let them teach us.
I am praying for my generation today!
“A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.” (Psalm 22:30-31)