Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders and they will explain to you. Deuteronomy 32:7
We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statues for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds abut would keep his commands. Psalm 78:4-7
In these two passages we see the significance of telling, explaining, teaching, etc., by the fathers of the Hebrew culture in order to perpetuate their faith to the next generation. Failure to do so was in fact disobedience to the commands of God. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is a God who concerns Himself with the coming generations—therefore, we too should cultivate the same outlook in both our natural and spiritual families.
You may be wondering after reading several of my postings on this very subject, “Do we really need to concern ourselves with becoming spiritual fathers and mothers?” We have a Scriptural obligation to steward the emerging generation(s), which requires each one of us—regardless of our vocational calling in life—to tell, explain, and teach (discipleship) the next generation. I want to share two brief stories to highlight the absolute necessity of passing on the faith to the next generation.
This past Sunday Cal Ripken—a living baseball legend—was inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. This is an honor held by few. Even more impressive was the record breaking turnout of 75,000 fans to give honor to this man. The opening remarks during his induction speech illustrates the principle of teaching the next generation. Remember, Cal Ripken is a living legend among baseball fans due to his professionalism and endearing play which won the hearts of fans during his career. Cal states:
"I've really appreciated all the people who have congratulated me in the months since my selection to the Hall of Fame. It sure helped me get over a conversation I had recently with a 10-year old boy I was instructing. I was teaching him hitting and he was starting to have success and feeling quite proud of himself. And he asked me, ‘So, did you play baseball?’
I said, ‘Yes, I played professionally.’ And he goes, ‘Oh, yeah, for what team?’ I said, ‘I played with the Baltimore Orioles for 21 years.’ And he said, ‘What position?’ And I said, ‘Mostly shortstop but a little third base at the end.’ And he began to walk away and he looked back and said, ‘Should I know you?’”
This 10-year old kid was being taught how to hit by one of baseball's greatest, a living legend—amazingly, he had not a clue who was instructing him. Only a few years removed from the game, Cal was just another coach to this young lad. I'm not harping on this poor little kid. Possibly he didn't even have a father figure to instruct, explain, and teach him the sport of baseball. Yet this innocent and inquisitive kid was provoked to ask, “Should I know you?” Although he wasn’t taught previously as to who this legend was, after a brief conversation with Cal Ripken, he stumbled upon the realization that possibly someone very significant stood before him.
My Stumbling Before a Signficant One
Now I want to also share a personal story that amplifies the urgency of the principle that I am highlighting.
In the spring of 1992 I was getting ready for my graduation from high school. My plans were to attend Bridgewater College so that I could continue to pursue my passion—football. At that juncture in life, God wasn’t even on the radar screen. I did not grow up in a Christian home, although I was taught the principles of respect and honor. It seems that I can recall going to church three times—at the most—with friends during my high school years. Regarding Christianity, I was ignorant and knew nothing about Christ Jesus or the Bible.
One day as I was sitting in the living room by myself, I had an open vision, although at the time I would have been hard-pressed to explain what it was. In this vision I saw a man standing before me. As I looked upon him, everything in me longed to love this stranger. This sudden surge of intense desire from the core of my core to love this unknown man standing before me puzzled me greatly. “I don’t know who you are, but I know I am supposed to love you,” I said as I gazed upon him, “But I don’t love you…I am sorry. I know I should, but I don’t...I don't know you.” This man was silent during the whole time, yet my heart was awakened to love this unknown person.
You have to understand, I didn’t know anything about Christ. I didn’t know that he was crucified on a Cross on my behalf so that I could know the God of love intimately and live my life for His glory. My parents were wonderful parents, but they didn’t know the Lord. With the exception of a few visits to Sunday school when I was around five, we did not attend church. I had no exposure to the teachings of the Scriptures. Although I was taught certain principles that have biblical origins, they did not instruct me in the way of the Lord. Yet, at the time of this encounter, I had this, "Should I know you," sense deep within. I suspected that it was this Jesus that I had vaguely heard about, but lacked any understanding as to who He was.
Prior to leaving for college, an old friend gave me an extra Bible that she had with the instruction to read the book of Matthew. My response—Where is the book of Matthew? This was the first time I had ever read the Bible. A month later at college someone did take the time to explain to me who Jesus Christ was. So at seventeen years old, I surrendered my life to Christ and became a new creation in Him! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
No longer did I have to say, "Should I know you?” Rather, the words burned within, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Matthew 16:16)
There are many within your sphere that you are called to tell, explain, and teach the Truth of the gospel. Many of the emerging generation today stand ignorant concerning the things of God, namely the glorious splendor of Christ Jesus. Be bold! Allow the Spirit of God to fill you afresh so that you may go forth as a father and mother to this generation! Tell them of what Jesus has done in your life. Explain the reality of a relationship with Christ. Teach them to obey all that Christ has commanded!
May Judges 2:10 not be said of our emerging generation(s) during our watch:
"After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel."
Many in the emerging generation, however, are afraid to trust. Being mentored is a vulnerable thing if it is going to work. Mentors can also make mistakes and hurt our feelings just because they are human. Is the younger generation willing to humble itself to its mentors?
That is a pretty direct statement yet, alas, why beat around the bush? *smile*
Show me a humble mentor and I'll show you humble son.
Humble mentors are out there. Often it requires some risks on the mentees part in finding those willing to mentor. I am not saying that my generation has not failed the younger one - we have. Forgive us. However, in my experience, I have also seen numerous, in the younger generation, insist on their independence and ignore the advice of the mentor. Many have been hurt. Trust is hard. I understand that. I have been hurt by my mentor many times because he is human. Still I knew that, in spite of it, he cared and believed in me; thus I had to push back being offended and trust him and submit to his authority when nothing in me wanted to. It was more about my learning about submission to authority and not being offended than it was about anything he did as "failure"
Let me add that, in my opinion, someone who has not been "broken" is not fit to lead, father, mentor, whatever you call it. That is my experience/opinion in observing this process of mothering/fathering. The breaking certainly ushers in humility. For me, I find it difficult to trust a non broken person with the "pearls" of my life.
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