For the last few years I’ve noticed many church practitioners lamenting about the generational gaps found in their various faith communities. This “generational homogeneity” is the result of several cultural factors that exist both inside and outside of the church. We’ve got old churches and we’ve got young churches, but except for a few exceptions, we don’t have generationally diverse churches.
For me personally, this gap has resulted in a lack of mentoring relationships. Receiving and interacting with the wisdom of those who have been down roads that I’m only now considering for myself is incredibly helpful. But I’ve found that if I don’t intentionally seek out such relationships, I’m not likely to stumble upon them. So here’s what I’m doing.
Pictured above is my friend Milt. He’s 38 years my senior. He’s retiring this year after 45 years of service as a UMC pastor. He’s a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary and also holds a D.Min. But apart from his academic training, his experience in ministry life is rich and…eye opening. Every few weeks we sit down on a Saturday morning over a cup of coffee and simply talk about life. At times he prays for me and my present ministry efforts…he’s teaching me how to talk to God.
I often leave our meetings with a renewed conviction that we are, at present, a culture of knowledge, but not one of wisdom. Milt is incredibly humble and probably doesn’t think of himself as wise, which is a common mark of wise people. As we talk about the Bible, ministry life, our families, and whatever else, I have the sense that I’m learning things that I can’t google, or pickup in a how-to manual. Some things must be gained through the intentional submission of oneself to the life experience of another. This is me, Joel…the Millennial saying…I didn’t come out of college with the wisdom necessary to apply all the other things that I’ve learned in a more formal sense.
So here’s a challenge. Find someone who is wise, and ask them about life. This simple invitation to have someone else invade your life for a time is well worth it.