By: Art Hobba– Last week our discussion drove home the reality that much of what may be “wrong” with Millennial Christian men happened on their Dad’s (if they had one) watch, and the kind of church leaders and role models they grew up with. In this blog, we will take a shot at answering this BIG question:
How can we actively seek to understand and help connect our generations together as authentic Christ-followers?
From a Father God perspective, I believe the answer to closing the generation chasm requires us to understand three divine principles at work:
Principle One: It is on the elder man to build the bridges into adulthood for the younger man
This is validated by God’s command to fathers through Moses in Deuteronomy 11:18-20. As the head of our family, we are to make sure we model, teach, and train our kids from within the framework of the Kingdom of God.
You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. “You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates,…
There is no hint at outsourcing here. All dads have failed in some way to do this effectively for our sons. Far too many of us wrote the check for the gardener, cable TV, phone company and our local church with a high expectation of ongoing, competent service. How many guys said to themselves, “I don’t have the skills or the time to train up my kids in God’s values and principles . . .let’s leave it for the experts.” Yet Moses wrote this to Fathers who were illiterate! These men were expected to have memorized the law and trained their kids during their day-to-day. Arguably, most families lived and worked communally on their land together, so they were always close at hand. Assuredly, many more teaching moments occurred for the Dad back then.
“… we don’t get to leave the arena just to sit in the stands.”
Even though I had some good days modeling Father God to my kids, my job is far from complete. We release them to God when they are grown, knowing that the cake is not fully baked. That is ok, but we don’t get to leave the arena just to sit in the stands.
Principle Two: Grace must work its way out
Grace is a key pillar of our faith. Without God’s unearned and underserved favor, our faith is a non-starter. God’s grace naturally produces an outflow of good works. This is why the apostle Paul compels us to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.”
Here is where the principle of accountability and restitution come into play. It seems that a common temptation for Boomer or X Gen dads is to apply God’s grace to our insufficiencies as a father at the expense of taking responsibility. We must be careful not to have an attitude that says, “I guess he’s all in God’s hands now…”. This may be ultimately true, but we dare not confuse the vertical relationship we have with our Father through grace in Christ, and the horizontal relationships we have with our own children.
I may receive grace and forgiveness from one of my sons for my failings or absenteeism, But I can’t presume that since God has extended His grace over me for my trespass against Him, that I have no responsibility to confess my sin and need of forgiveness to them. Jesus paid a dear price to redeem us from Satan’s grip, and so we should embrace our cross as dads to bring redemption to our grown kids in Jesus Name.
My first step in this is to accept that I must invest the time and prayer to build the bridges to the millennial men in my life. We often pray first, but sometimes don’t act. In the gym, we know that developing a strong Core is critical. We’ve got to do the crunches and low back work first. Prayer is doing the crunches, so start there. The place of prayer and meditation on God’s Word is where you will find the blueprints for the bridge.
Breaking the Boomer mindset
This is hard for me because I’ve been trained to anticipate the rewards of the empty nest. I have have earned a break after forty years of hard labor and parenting. But this popular way of thinking is contrary to the Kingdom. Look to Caleb one of the few dads in Scripture who finished well. At 83 he is still bringing his “A Game,” leading his (X Gen and Millennial) sons to the top of the mountain to spend his last breath securing their inheritance. Instead of laying back and saying, “Where do I store my Winnebago?” we, like Caleb, need to be saying “Give me this mountain!”
Maybe you don’t have a son, or he is not in the picture. If this is true for you, then you still have a key role to play in the lives of other young men and women. The role is clear when we remember that the Church is one body. We are joined into one family, as God’s children. The calling of our Father to the fatherless is best expressed through Christian men here on earth, and this expands our assignment beyond flesh and blood to others, many of whom never even had a dad in their life.
Principle Three: God uses young men for His mission
We will look at principle three next week, and examine some encouraging traits of the millennial man, but let me trigger a thought for us all: Most gospel revivals in the history of the world were sparked with young men. Think about the men God used in the Bible. David was a young boy. Joseph (and Mary) were teenagers. Timothy was a young preacher. Most of the disciples were in their teens and twenties. God uses young men! And it’s a beautiful thing.
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Art Hobba is an author of 5 books, and the Founder and Director of Core 300. He speaks at pastor’s conferences and men’s camps, as well as provides corporate leadership training and coaching to individuals, companies, and the military through Transcende. You can reach him at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Philippians 2:12
 Joshua 14:12-15