One of the greatest persons in my life was my grandmother Antoinette Malcolm who was born in 1898. She was 72 years older than me. The next greatest person in my life was my mother Jenny Elizabeth Smith who was born in 1928. She was 42 years older than me. My father was born in 1922 and was 49 years older than me. Despite our age differences I valued the time I spent with my grandmother and my parents respectively and I learned so much from them. At times, we did not understand some of the decisions they made but when we reflect on them, we realize because of their experiences, they did not want us to make the same mistakes as them.
Today there is a growing divide between the old and the young in the church, the workplace and the political arena. Some of the young people feel they are being overlooked and nothing is in place to train them to progress to the next level and so they feel now is the time for them to be at the forefront. On the other hand, some of the matured and older generations believe that the young people have a lot to learn to learn and have to wait their time.
As a result of this, there are intergenerational conflicts. Personally, I believe we need each other and can mentor and learn from one another and hence there should be no major conflicts between the generations. You see in the Bible; God used the young and the old to lead and they were all successful in their own way. The prophet Jeremiah was 17 years old when God appointed him as a prophet. David became King at age 30 and remained in that position until age 70 or 71. Abraham was 75 years old when God called him to leave his home. Moses was 80 years old when God spoke to him through the burning bush to lead the Israelites from Egypt.
We need to stop looking at the age of individuals but rather focus on the ability, the maturity and the calling of individuals. The young is not better than the old and the old is not better than the young. The old and young complement each other.
One of the benefits about being matured and older is that you have a wealth of experience. This experience can help you to mentor the younger generation. Of course, some young people have a lot of experience too as some of them were working from a very young age. For example, it is believed that David was 22 years old when he fought Goliath. No one believed that David could have defeated Goliath. In 1 Samuel 17:33 stated “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man and he has been a warrior from his youth” Even though David had faith in God, he also had experience as a shepherd killing lions and bears. Faith alone is not the answer for faith without works is dead. Of course, Goliath had experience too.
The same way education alone is not the answer to be good leader. Too many of us have our college degrees and we think we know everything but when we get into the workforce, we realize there is so much more we must learn than what was taught to us in college and university. You will find in the workforce that some of your colleagues know more than you even though they do not have a degree. There is nothing new under the sun and with the experience one has, young people can learn from the older people not to make the mistakes the older folks made in the past.
Some may argue and say Jeremiah did not have any experience. The special thing about Jeremiah, was that God was with him and set him apart to be a prophet even before he was formed in his mother’s womb and as a result he was a successful leader. Did God call you in the position you are in today?
The world today is not the same as the world of yesteryear and one of the reasons for this is due to the advancement and impact of technology. While some of our matured and older folks are in tune with the technological changes, there are many that are not. However, virtually every young person is proficient in technology and with modern technology it is a great tool to engage with the masses of the people. The matured and older people can learn from the younger generation about the innovations in technology. This will allow them as leaders and individuals to connect and engage with the community and in so doing allow them to lead effectively. One thing that God wants us to do is to reach people and this can be achieved through technology. This will also bridge the gap between the old and the young.
Challenging the Status Quo
In life if you keep doing the same thing, more than likely you will get the same results. Therefore, in order to bring about a change, we need to change the way we do things which will require a change in our mindsets, and this sometimes requires challenging the status quo.
It is believed that some older people are so set in their ways and continue to do things the way they have always been while it is believe that some young people are open to changes and are willing to challenge the status quo.
Having young people can bring a great perspective to the older folks even though there are some young people also, who are not open to change. They get into organizations and become very comfortable with the status quo and didn’t bring about the change they promised.
I don’t think any organization should be focusing on one group of people, for the old and the young are interconnected and no matter how we try to separate them into groups, it will not work. The old should be happy to groom the young people to assume their positions. Likewise, the young should be happy for older people to mentor them based on their experience. It is unfortunate that there are some selfish people thinking only about themselves and manipulate others to believe that one generation is not for them and as a result we continue to face intergenerational conflicts.