Throughout the Psalms, we find a consistent charge to earnestly take on the responsibility of declaring God’s faithfulness to the next generation. We don’t do so because we have a romantic notion about God or because we think that declaring His goodness is a nice idea—but because it’s an act of obedience.
King David understood this responsibility. In Psalm 71, we find David asking God to extend the breath of his life until he has adequately told the next generation of His greatness and power. And in Psalm 145, we find David again prophetically singing over the future generations.
Just as in David’s day, there’s much talk about mentoring the rising generations, and a lot of it sounds wonderful. However, the truth is that to foster the next generation, we must become selfless leaders who are not out to make a name or position for ourselves but rather willing to pass on our knowledge and understanding for the kingdom’s sake. Like David, we must be ready to deny ourselves in order to protect those God has entrusted to us.
Church history proves that man has a tendency to put his own reputation and desire for recognition above all else. Too often, when those who follow us start to advance beyond what we have accomplished, jealousy prevails, and the mentoring comes to a screeching halt. Then God must wait for another generation to be raised up, one with kingdom priorities.
When the why we do what we do doesn’t permeate in all that we do, our value systems give evidence that we do not have enough truth to successfully support what we do and who we are.
Our own lack of truth then becomes a stumbling block to sharing the knowledge, vision and passions behind whatever it is we do and whoever it is we are. We cannot give away what we do not own, and that’s why we need to have our own “faith stories” to pass on.
As spiritual moms and dads, we must be fully convinced of God’s ability to work in our lives. Then we can lay hold of the wonderful privilege we have of passing down our knowledge, experience, example and rich legacy of faith to the next generation, who will also need to remember that if God could do it then, He can do it now.
One problem we usually encounter is the lack of time needed to produce growth. Most of us are not very good at setting aside time to sit and converse at the levels needed to exchange truths. Or we are not very good at taking the time to listen to those who have been forging the path ahead of us.
In both instances, without the appropriate teaching of a hands-on experience—and, may I say, without a personal revelation—it will be difficult to make stronger what you have received from those who passed their inheritance on to you.
The church’s history with regard to music is replete with historical examples of how someone failed to pass on his knowledge of music. Before the times of Handel and Bach, most church music was in the hands of laymen. Actually, in those days, the people known to have education and culture were those found in the church.
It was Saint Ambrose, Archbishop of Milan (from 374–397), who took a keen interest in music and introduced it to the church as prayers and worship. He devised a special form of chanting known as the Ambrosian chant. This caught on as a new song and echoed within the walls of many houses of worship. Sadly, however, when Ambrose died, church music in his sphere of influence died with him.
The Ambrosian chant was great for a season, but without generational revelation, “passing of the baton” never happened. It took another 200 years before Pope Gregory introduced the house of God to a new method of song—the Gregorian chant was born. This time, due to its reason for existence and its methods of being taught to the younger generation, the chant is alive and well today.
Young men and women with great skill, creativity and passion surround us—people who need to hear our faith stories and have a safe place to grow up in. They need time with someone who will listen to their dreams and recognize their untapped potential. They need people like you and me to believe in them.
There is no substitute for time. Giving time is giving life to others. I’ve learned from my own children that quality time is quantity time, and that to really hear their dreams and desires takes moments where I am not interrupted or distracted by anything else.
In Philippians 2:4, Paul encouraged those who would follow his example: “Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand” (The Message).
Your life is all you have to give, so be generous with your time, especially toward those who are looking to you for leadership and wanting to follow your example. Let’s be committed to growth, even though it mostly means change. Honor all that has been, but lean into all that is to come.
This article is adapted from The Art of Mentoring: Embracing the Great Generational Transition by Darlene Zschech, copyright 2009/2011 by Extravagant Worship, Inc. Published by Bethany House Publishers. All rights reserved. Used by permission. No part of this article may be republished or redistributed in any form.