What is God’s plan for my generation?

What is God’s plan for my generation?

Are we too young or too old to love, disciple, and learn from the generations around us?

In this post, we’ll examine how:

  1. Inclusion in our generation gives us perspective.
  2. Immersion in others’ lives encourages common ground.
  3. Individuality in our personalities gives us uniqueness.
  4. Identity in Christ gives us unity.
  5. Inspiration to serve each other leads us to cross the divide.
  6. Instruction by Jesus to share the Good News compels us to reach out!
  1. Inclusion in our generation gives us perspective:

Why do we tend to divide into groups? Our family knew a couple who came from distinct neighborhoods in Chicago: she from the Lithuanian and he from the Bohemian community. Their stories and history fascinated me, and I wondered why there were such distinct communities, especially since part of my childhood was spent in Vancouver, BC, where our backyard was a blend of neighbors from India, Jamaica, Ukraine, and China!

Yet, Chicago reflects our nation’s rich melting pot where immigrants from all over the world settled into culturally familiar enclaves in the 19th and 20th centuries. Why? People spoke their languages and understood their cultures.

We often group because of our schooling, our environment, our families, and our comfort; yet, our differences can lead to one group disparaging another. What if we learn to value the generations above and below us? What if we remember that God loves them and has made them for specific times and purposes? Are we too young or too old to love, disciple, and learn from the generations around us? Pray and ask God how to serve those who are like you and the many who are not! 

We can embrace our generational identity, enjoying the common perspective and the culture of our growing up years. There is nothing wrong with enjoying harmony with those who are like us, but what if we begin to cross over into other spaces, asking God to use us in His plan to care for them? Will we find ourselves blessed even more than we bless others?

What if we took time to learn about different generations as a missionary learns about different cultures? Have you read about well-intentioned missionaries from times past who thought it best to make the native population conform to their standard of dress, culture, and language? We’re commanded to love God and love others but not make them look and act as we do. Instead, let’s find common ground!

My husband Jon and I learned so much in our eleven-year ministry leading forty-five teams to China. We took time to learn “about, from, and with” our Chinese brothers and sisters and benefitted much from Dr. Duane Elmer’s cross-cultural teaching.

  • Learning “about” happens from a distance, when we take time to deliberately research and understand others from different generations or cultures.
  • Learning “from” is stronger than “about” and happens in person when we ask and probe for understanding. It gives honor and respect to others and the joy you discover will encourage this “from” learning to continue!  
  • Learning “with” is unusual and incredible – it is a humble interaction between people­– an interdependence where we become teacher and learner together.

We honored our Chinese friends by learning, and even by seeking to understand their customs, history, and language.  We grew and were challenged by their hunger to know God and their boldness to share Him. The love and respect we shared fostered life-long relationships!

God’s command that we “love one another” certainly extends to others in all places and generations. May we challenge each other to learn about the generations and love them as God loves them!

2. Immersion in others’ lives encourages common ground.

It is human nature to find a way to “fit in” and to be accepted. For eight months of my life during middle school, we lived in a place where nearly everyone belonged to a certain religion, and you guessed it; we did not fit in. Alone and hoping to find friendship, I attended a youth group thinking this might be a place for me, but unfortunately, they were a defensive huddle of people closed off to anyone new. I finally found a friend from Colorado, and we shared a little common ground.

Are some churches like that? Are we a holy huddle or a group of huddles within the church? Even with friendly greeters, do we fail to reach out to someone we don’t recognize or associate with because we are “safe” within our group? It can be uncomfortable to reach outside the usual to see people who are not exactly like us. But what if we looked past the obvious and discovered things in common?

Pray that our eyes will be open to opportunities reaching beyond our safe group to others who are not in our sphere or generation. Our lives and our ministries could be mutually enriched by using our God-given gifts to serve others within and beyond our circle. It may be that you team with a friend to serve another group, or how about asking women in another generation to come and share with you? Older, younger, it doesn’t matter because we can learn about, from and with each other! I believe we’ll be surprised at how much we share in our life journeys. I get so excited to think about how much we can do together!

  1. Individuality in our personalities gives us uniqueness.

Psalm 139:1-24 reminds us that God knows all about us, examines us, and has wonderful thoughts about us! We are unique, loved, and Jesus died and rose again to save us all; by our faith alone we are part of God’s forever family. To us, it seems like a messy and broken family, but we are His.

Have you ever looked around you and thought that God did a great job creating others but that you might be the lesser of His creation? I wasted much time lamenting my inadequacies and comparing my weaknesses with others’ strengths, and I couldn’t think of one single gift I possessed. Is it just me? Are you accepting God’s grace in your life or letting weakness and failure define you?

Remember David, the shepherd boy who seemed insignificant compared to his brothers but slew a giant, played for the king, ran for his life, and led a nation? His failures are written in glaring detail for all to read. God doesn’t seek to use the talented. He seeks the small to confound the mighty, and He receives the glory! Even after his great failures, David was called a “man after God’s own heart!”

There is value in learning about and accepting the way God made us and the way He made others around us. There is also value in recognizing our generational and cultural differences. Rather than venting our frustration about other generations and worrying that others don’t understand our thinking and actions, learning about our personalities and spiritual gifts will give us the grace to accept what God made, and the courage to let Him change our attitudes and actions. (Ask about how Clear Connections Women’s Ministry can help with personalities and gifts analysis.)

Just as our personalities and our gifts are unique, our cultures and generations are also unique, but there is common ground and the uniqueness is fun to discover and so beneficial to God’s plan. What if the Lord had a plan for you within and outside your generation and what if you serve better because you learned about it?

  1. Identity in Christ gives us unity.

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12).

“Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually” (1 Corinthians 12:27).

Hey, guess what? We are all siblings! Every individual, every personality, and every generation make up the family of God! There aren’t parents, aunts, or grandparents in Christ. We are family, and we are God’s kids. If there was ever a reason to be who God intended us to be together, it is this reason!

Our identity in Christ begins when we trust in Christ alone to give us eternal life. It is not earned; it’s a gift! We are His dear children, joint heirs with Christ and near to Him. We are taken from darkness to light, and Scripture says we are called His chosen ones and His friends. Can you just sit back and take that in? We can release our insecurities and inadequacies and just rest in His love! (See Ephesians 2:8,9,13; Galatians 4:7; John 12:46; John 15:15; Colossians 3:12.)

  1. Inspiration to serve each other leads us to cross the divide.

I will always love the commonality I share with my generation, and when I know who I am in Christ, it’s easier to step outside the comfort of my circle. I simply don’t want to miss the richness of all I can learn from generations before and behind me! I recall the friendships my children made in the care facility where my grandparents lived. Each of our four kids had a special friend who waited for them each week when we visited. For my younger daughter, it was Ruby who would show her pictures of her children and tell her stories of her life. My children still have friends outside their generation, and they don’t make age distinctions about their friends.

Want to obey God’s call? Want to serve others? Dive in! We can wait for someone else to make the first move, or we can decide with courage and confidence, to step outside our spaces and see what God has for us as we seek to serve others and glorify Him. The pandemic brought some isolation to our world and sapped our courage to some degree, but by God’s amazing grace we can cross the divides that may be robbing us of His blessings!

If you are reading this post today, I’m guessing God is speaking to your heart as He has spoken to mine. You love people, too! You care about others, but perhaps you haven’t known how to reach out. Pray much and ask for wisdom and God’s timing in everything. Share your heart, ask for help, find a friend and serve together. At Clear Connections, we’d love your feedback and welcome any questions or concerns: ClearConnections@MakeItClear.org

  1. Instruction by Jesus to share the Good News compels us to reach out!

Do you ache with me for the many who don’t know Jesus? That heartache caused me to overcome my discomfort and learn to share the Good News! If you want the same but need support to get started, please send me a message through this blog. You can also go to www.makeitclear.org, click on “Special Ministries” and “Good News Made Clear.” We can make sharing both simple and fun!

In closing, there was a song written years ago by a man named Mike Otto from Florida Bible College, and I believe the words Mike wrote speak the message of my heart today. May you be encouraged as you read them.

“Let me see this world, dear Lord,
As though I were looking through Your eyes.
A world of men who don’t want You, Lord,
But a world for which You died.
Let me kneel with You in the garden,
Blur my eyes with tears of agony;
For if once I could see this world the way You see,
I just know I’d serve You more faithfully.

Let me see this world, dear Lord,
Through Your eyes when men mock Your Holy Name.
When they beat You and spat upon You, Lord,
Let me love them as You loved them just the same.
Let me stand high above my petty problems,
And grieve for men, hell-bound eternally;
For if once I could see this world the way You see,
I just know I’d serve You more faithfully.”

Let’s allow that which breaks God’s heart to break ours! Let’s pray for each other as we do the unusual and overcome our discomforts, cultural norms, and generational identities. The enemy wants us to remain “safe,” but God wants us to go!

“How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:

How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,

Who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:14,15).

By Peggy Sperling

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