Sometimes, it’s tempting to assume that rebellion against authority began with sarcastic memes and long rants about Boomers. But that’s not true. Every generation has seen conflict with those outside their age group.
We only have to look back to when Baby Boomers were young to find an iconic example of rebellion in the 1960s. Similarly, the generation the Baby Boomers rebelled against had rebelled against their parents during the 1920s. If you look hard enough, you can trace this cycle back throughout human history.
Two recurring problems contribute to this rebellion: a younger generation that doesn’t respect the older and an older generation that doesn’t respect the younger.
As students, it may be easy to laugh off the older generation. They don’t talk like we do, and they don’t dress like we do. They’re not even on Instagram. They value different things than we do. And there’s nothing wrong with that. They’ve also lived longer, and they have a wealth of experience to share if we’re willing to listen. “With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding” (Job 12:12).
Older generations also have amazing stories that will be lost forever if we don’t find them and write them down. Whether they were soldiers or farmers, firefighters or janitors, everyone who has lived a full life has a story to tell.
But it can also be easy to discount the younger generation. We use strange new words, and we follow the weirdest fashion trends. We’re obsessed with social media. We worry about mental health. And there’s nothing wrong with that. We have a fresh perspective, and we point out areas where we can be more Christlike. “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12).
Younger generations also have the energy and fresh perspective needed to implement the wisdom of the older generation. We have unique talents, and we need people to guide and encourage us in how to use them.
Both the younger and older generations need each other. We’re all part of the same body of Christ, a body of a diverse people, talents and callings. That diversity is a strength of the church. We need people with different experiences, backgrounds and skills to accomplish the Great Commission and to glorify God through everything we do. As Paul says, “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him” (1 Cor. 12:18).
God has chosen each and every individual in the church, regardless of age, ethnicity or gender, to come together for His glory, the most worthy goal of all. Who are we to look down on those who are different than us within the church? After all, we’re all part of one body.
Respect those older than you in your church. Encourage those younger than you. And in all things, seek the glory of God.