The Value of Listening to Those Who Are Younger

The reason I had children was to have someone to mow my lawn on hot days. I know it’s shallow, but it was a key motivating factor in my decision. My wife was focused on legacy, loving kids and training up the next generation. I simply wanted to know there would be someone to get the yard work done when summer temperatures reach over 100. What I’ve learned is they’re valuable for so much more.

Having children is important in helping you discover the value of sleep. Prior to having our babies, I was young and could exist on a few hours of rest. I could always make it up by sleeping late on the weekend. Having a baby in the house radically changed my attitude toward sleep. They
seemed to be awake early in the morning, in the evening, and in the middle of the night. Because we had our children 18 months apart, I didn’t get a good night’s sleep for four years.

Though they wear you out, children also keep you young. Every parent has had to crawl through the tubes at a fast food restaurant to fetch a crying child. I’ve made up songs in stores and dances in doctor’s offices to entertain bored kids. I’ve been a horse, an airplane, and a punching bag over the years. My teenagers are why I still ride roller coasters today and drive miles and miles to attend high school sports events.

I’ve also learned a lot from my children over the years. They’ve taught me to look at the world from different perspectives. Sometimes that has meant literally getting down on my hands and knees to see a situation from their vantage point.

They constantly teach me the value of change. I’d prefer everything stay the way it was 20 years ago. I, like most people, enjoy the familiar. Having younger people in our lives forces us to hear new music and experience new technology. My parents interact with their grandchildren from 450 miles away via Facebook and texting. They get daily contact with my kids because they are willing to learn the technology that connects the younger generation.

I would encourage kids, teenagers and young adults to not give up on the aging adults around you. We need to learn from you to stay engaged in a changing world. The Apostle Paul wrote to his protégé, Timothy, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12 NIV) Sure, there are people who will dismiss you, but many of us are here to listen and learn. Take a chance and try talking to an adult.

Those of us who are older need to make sure we’re setting aside time to listen to those who are younger. By listening to the generations who follow us we stay connected and relevant a little longer.

– Jeff Denton is lead pastor of Waterbrook Bible Fellowship in Wylie.

(Article originally appeared in the August 8, 2012, edition of The Wylie News. )

Posted: August 10, 2012 
Filed under: Deep Thoughts with Pastor Jeff, Leadership, Pastor Jeff, Spiritual
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