The other day I was watching the 80’s classic The Goonies. Okay, I was taking a trip down memory lane of vacationing with my family on the Oregon Coast, recalling the launch of MTV, and thinking “I didn’t know Josh Brolin was the older brother in the movie.” It was great! Then a thought slipped in while I was reveling in my younger years that jarred me. I noticed that all the adults in the film were idiots, incompetent, and couldn’t save their own backside if their lives depended on it. When I was a kid this did not stand out as all I cared about was the story of adventure and the band of misfits. Then I started thinking about how much of my formative years I have been taught (both in the church and outside of it) that I am part of the generation that will lead the world into a brighter tomorrow. That we held the key to ending racism, sexism, all “isms” and our time to lead was coming soon.
As a leader in the Church I began to quake in my heart, because I began to see how a “youth culture” has shaped my peer group and the way that we approach the Church. In blog posts, social media, convention gatherings we are still like those misfit kids trying to point out to our elders that they are incompetent, backwards, and simply don’t understand.
This is not good. In fact, I do not see anywhere in scripture that supports this kind of approach to our elders in the faith. Being young, even in an age of rapid change, does not mean we are entitled with the authority to jettison the wisdom of those who have walked a longer spiritual journey. I am not saying that all that exists in the Church right now is good just, because it has existed that way for a certain length of time, but I am worried about the tone of our critique and our race to dismiss something on the grounds that it is “old.”
We should tread carefully here for OUR young are watching how we treat our elders and the lessons that they learn from our actions, tone, and reactions will far outweigh what we say to them. Remember, we will not always be young and our children will not always remain depend on us for knowledge, protection, and life.
Will they honor our insights or will they discard our thoughts as useless, because they are old.
If we are truly thinking forward, then we must concern ourselves with valuing the wisdom of our spiritual elders as this is one of the only ways to preserve long-term peace and unity in our communities.