Passing on Wisdom
While people are up in arms about millennials ruining everything, iGen’ers are reaching adulthood. Who is iGen, you ask? Tony Reinke frames them this way — “They are woke. They appear confident online. They are never offline. Technology conveniently buffers and brokers their relationships. And technology feeds their loneliness and the toxic comparison that hollows meaning from their lives.”
Does this sound provocative? It’s not intended to be. It’s just the reality of the culture our students are growing up in.
As parents and as the church, we are called to bring God’s wisdom to bear, as we help the next generation understand what’s going on inside them and what’s coming at them, as they learn how the gospel has the power to transform them. While the things coming at them might be new to us (endless online presence, personal branding, constant edits, and comparison), the desires underlying are not (approval, connection, love, significance).
Learning to Love Wisdom
The Bible teaches that true wisdom is to both love and obey the full counsel of God. What we say and do reveals our hearts, and when we truly love God, we actually begin to obey Him. And when we obey Him, to imitate Him. Daniel Estes suggests that character formation is at the heart of wisdom. “The purpose of wisdom is to guide humans into life that is truly good as [God] evaluates it.”
The person redeemed by God looks at what God has called good with agreement and moves toward Him in celebration. This is God’s call in creation – “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31a). Interestingly, the first human act of rebellion against God follows a similar pattern of seeing and beholding. Eve “saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,” so Eve took and both ate (Gen. 3:6). The point is this: what the eyes see and the heart desires, the whole person follows.
So how can we help this next generation see, behold, and follow God?
The Wisdom of Multigenerational Living
If I were to give you a simplified goal for student ministry, it would be this: to teach our students to love Jesus, to love others, and to love missions. We do this by faithfully teaching (rather than assuming) the gospel – God loves sinners through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Assuming leads to blank stares and missed opportunities, but faithfully teaching the gospel over and over again and trusting in the Spirit to work lends itself, eventually, to students mining the depths and beauty of the work of God on their behalf.
We pass on wisdom by living out what we believe. Do what I say, not what I do doesn’t work. Rather, we pass on wisdom by genuinely loving God and living out our response to God’s love for us with them. In so doing, we joyfully bear witness to God’s goodness (Ps. 145:4).
The questions students ask aren’t new, but they shouldn’t be left to themselves to answer them. How do I handle conflict with friends? How do I balance the pressures of school? How do I discern God’s will for my life? What if I disagree with my parents? How do I manage the strong pulls of technology? They need the wisdom of those who have faced these questions before them as they learn what it means to walk faithfully with God. And they need others to ask them new questions that challenge them as they consider how their lives will be used by God to advance His kingdom.
True wisdom ultimately finds its culmination in Christ. Jesus fully embodies godly wisdom, and it is our aim as the church to imitate Him as we magnify His works and worth in our lives from one generation to the next.
If you are interested in volunteering with Waypoint's youth group, contact Eric at Eric@waypointrdu.com.