As I grew older as a pastor, I realized the congregation was growing older with me. The leadership did not want this to happen as we had witnessed it in other congregations. We realized we needed a younger man to come along and assist in pastoring. One who had a lot of self-initiative and could come into his own, while also learning from an experienced pastor.
Our desire was (as older men) to rally around younger men. We saw this as needed for both the old men and the young men. Young men possess strength, fresh ideas, and an insight into their generation that we as older men do not possess. Older men possess wisdom and experience which can help spare young men worthless pursuits and make them more strategic in their efforts.
We saw this as simple. We need their strength and they need our wisdom.
Because of how churches too often segment people apart from each other based on age, the goodness of the relationship between young and old – working together in the Lord’s field – is often never realized.
Sadly, I have also seen something of this amongst those involved in the battle for the preborn.
And I want to address the older folks – my peers.
About five years ago I started seeing memes on Facebook by predominantly young people calling themselves Abolish Human Abortion (AHA). They were striking. I began to read some of their rhetoric and it was excellent.
I noticed that some didn’t like what they were saying. I saw the AHA folk were routinely attacked by pro-lifers. The beating they took from some was amazing. The churchmen (pastors and leaders) soon joined in the attack with the usual wet blanket over their love and zeal; malicious attacks on their character; and outright lies about their behavior.
But I would defend the posts or thoughts of the AHA folk. I would tell people what they were saying was right (because it was) and that what they were saying was how we should have been talking all these years this bloodshed has been going on.
Too often when wrong ideas we have embraced are pointed out – we become offended and defensive, when we should simply repent and allow the Lord to build in our lives.
I was shocked how some pro-lifers from my peer group were so offended by these youthful upstarts. Those from my peer group would belittle them for their youth and condescend about all the years they had been involved in comparison to repudiate them.
And this bothered me.
And I have watched it ever since. I view this as a sad commentary on those of us who are older. We – as older people – should be more mature in the matter and understand that there is such a thing as ‘confidence of youth.’ It is a trait that is needed in the young so they have the strength of heart to accomplish what the Lord has put in their hand to do.
So what if young people think they’re the first to do something for the preborn? Who cares if they don’t give us the reverence we think we deserve? Whoop-de-do if they don’t say it in a gentle enough fashion for you? Grow up! Are we snowflakes?
We are older. We should understand things more. We should not be concerned about our laurels.
We have lived long enough to have seen that every movement or effort to come against evil and see good accomplished has big mouths in it; has people in it whose motives are not right; who think of themselves more highly than they should.
And we have lived long enough to see what happens to those people. Either they leave the movement six months or a year after getting involved (sadly, after damaging the group’s reputation) or they temper themselves and mature as they faithfully continue. They learn some things.
Understand, nothing that I am saying here dismisses ill behavior by young people (or anyone).
What I see from too many in my peer group are those who seem bent on crushing or destroying these young people. We should be thankful for their desire to love the Lord and their neighbor – to serve Christ in the earth. Give the guidance; give them rebuke when needed (I have); but don’t kill their spirit. Don’t sit by waiting to see something done wrong so you can pounce.
What I see is – the arrogance that my peer group accuses these young abolitionists of possessing is the same arrogance they possess for their brand of pro-lifeism; whether it be Rescue or political involvement or work at a CPC or whatever. The arrogance is revolting. It is revolting to me because we are older and should know better.
The message being brought by these young people is needed for us. They see some things that our generation just never saw. And isn’t that what we always desired? That the next generation would do better than us? Isn’t that what we desire from each of our children as parents?
We should not be making the young people conform to our past pro-life paradigms and practices. We had our day – this is theirs.
Please, let us rally together. We need their strength and steadfastness – they need our affection and insight.
[Finally, if I could just add a thought. When I first met these young folks with AHA I was surprised at how many children many of these young couples had. It delighted me. It refreshed my heart. While my generation had been busy committing familial suicide so it could enjoy the pleasures of wealth and ease – here were these young people at great expense to themselves gathering to speak up for their neighbor in need. Seeing that struck me as a great goodness – and placed in my heart great hope. May Christ be praised!]
Matthew Trewhella is the pastor of Mercy Seat Christian Church (MercySeat.net) and the founder of Missionaries to the Preborn (MissionariestothePreborn.com). He and his wife, Clara, have eleven children and reside in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area. You can also read his writings at www.DefyTyrants.com or www.LesserMagistrate.com.