Posted by: everynation | August 10, 2007

Father & Son

by Paul Barker

paul-barker-en-plog.jpgCat Stevens released the song “Father and Son” in 1970. The song is a dialogue between a father and his son. The father offers good advice and the son counters with an equally cogent and entirely opposite response. The two parties express their views clearly, but they never connect. There was a huge gap between them.

Father:

It’s not time to make a change,
Just relax, take it easy.
Take your time, think a lot,
Think of everything you’ve got.
For you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not.

Son:

How can I try to explain, when I do he turns away again.
It’s always been the same, same old story.
From the moment I could talk, I was ordered to listen.
Now there’s a way and I know that I have to go away.
I know, I have to go.

I heard the song on the radio recently, and it evoked many memories; it was a song I heard a lot in high school. It represented to me a powerful and poetic expression of what was then popularly called the “Generation Gap.”

The “Generation Gap” was more than a popular expression. There were significant differences between my contemporaries and our parents.

I wondered after hearing the song if the Generation Gap is still a reality. Are there major differences between Baby Boomers and the GenXers? I think the answer is yes – although the gap does not seem to be as great as it was between us Boomers and our parents. For example, my kids listen to my CDs, and I listen to theirs – something that never would have happened with our parents. (Of course, it wouldn’t have been a CD – it would have been an Eight Track.)

But the gap still exists. Even among Christians. I experienced it recently when I went on a road trip with four 30-ish campus ministers.

I had a great time and I laughed a lot on the trip, but I left with the overwhelming sense of how different we were. It is not as though I could put my finger on all the differences. I just knew that they processed information in a uniquely different way than I did. Although we shared many values, our way of looking at nearly everything in life was different.

In reflecting on my experience, I’ve come to the conclusion that my way of perceiving the world is not as biblical as I once thought. It is more cultural and generational than I ever realized. And if that is true, how important is it for me to listen to younger men and hear what they have to say, not so that I can help them see the light, but so that I can see the light.

There is always a gap between different generations, even among Christians. But smart leaders recognize that without the viewpoint of the other generations, they will never be as productive as they could be.

My generation believes it is their job to mentor the next generation. It is sometimes hard for us to acknowledge that we also need them to mentor us. Without them, we run a very great risk of losing the adaptability that is necessary for continuing influence and growth. Without them, we will not be as effective and productive as we could be.

Paul Barker is the Director of the Every Nation Leadership Institute-North America and the author of PaulBarker.org.

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Responses

  1. Paul,
    Great blog, I am just getting into reading blogs and was routed to yours after reading one of Pastor Steve Murrel’s. I just experienced what you wrote about after returning from a mission trip with a team of 10 from Honolulu. I was 10 to 15 years older than most folks on the team and I learned so much from them on this trip. I was also blown away by their spiritial maturity and wisdom (speaks volumes to the discipleship and leadership training of their home church). On a side note, I watched videos of you in 2002 (VLI) and always looked forward to your teaching. I took a break after my 4th kid was born and am now starting ENLI2 this month and will head off to ENLI3 next summer. I’m probably writing WAY too much for a response on your blog, better quit.
    Aloha…Vince

  2. Great insight Pastor Paul. You are marked by your humility and humor. I admire your ability to lead in such a mighty way. Thanks for writting this.
    J

  3. Hi there Ps Paul! hope you are doing well! I relate constantly with much younger people (relatively speaking!) in our church here in Singapore and I am often surprised and amazed at both their knowledge and insight. You are so right. If I don’t humble myself to learn from them, I can so easily become irrelevant and “outdated”.Thanks for the reminder.. ..Kenneth

  4. Can you tell more?


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