In my most recent book, Worlds Apart, I wrote a chapter on navigating inter-generational relationships. I talk about this all the time in workshops and seminars, but the bottom line is leading people toward these relationships can be difficult to navigate. There are all sorts of obstacles to tackle in churches when it comes to cultivating relationships between people of different generations. I’ve written in LENGTH about these in previous books, but here are just a few:
- Intimidation of older believers.
- Church models that are geared toward people’s preferences.
- Younger believers not seeing the value of having an older person investing in them.
- Older believers thinking ‘mentorship’ is simply an unglorified counseling session.
I can go on and on, but there is one thing that I can tell everyone. One thing that is universal regardless of context, regardless of generational values or preferences, regardless of intimidation factors….there is one thing that everyone needs. Leaders need this. Adult mentors need this. Younger people need this.
We must pay the price of time with people.
In our culture we are horrible at cultivating relationships. It takes us a tremendous amount of time to build relationships with other people. And yet, when it comes to mentorship somehow we expect it to work immediately…and if it doesn’t we think something is wrong.
In Worlds Apart I mention a friend of mine who says something about “discipleship.” He says this: Disciple is spelled T-I-M-E.
Patience. It’s how we love people (1 Corinthians 13:4).