Staying relevant to younger generations

It is important to stay relevant with our grandchildren. We have thought of relevancy as compromising and watering down our convictions. It means staying closely connected. We are relating to a generation 50 years younger than we are, but we can still have an effect on their lives.

We want our grandchildren to see us as hip, exciting and with innovative ideas, they probably don’t. But, they can see us with wisdom, experience and how we live out of a full life. We say, “Been there, done that,” because we have. We know where the holes are in the road. We have traveled that road before, fallen into potholes and learned a few lessons along the way.

Our grandson stopped by to say goodbye before he left for college. We say, “He came to visit.” He says, “I came to hang with you.”

Before he left, I said, “Let your granddad and I pray over you. I love to hear your granddad talk to God. His prayers are so sweet and he has such humility.”

We would not have “hung together” if we hadn’t stayed relevant in his life. He wrote a thank-you note for the wisdom and coffee we shared with him this summer. He signed it, “Love you guys.”

We talked about the affairs of the heart, college and his career. These young grandkids are growing up and changing into adults. We must change with them.

I told him how he looked like his granddad and how handsome they both were. I took My Sweet Al’s 8-by-10 picture off the wall and brought it into the living room. The picture was taken when his granddad was the same age as our grandson.

He stroked the glass and stared at it for a long time. He connected with the image. I don’t think he had ever made the connection that his granddad was young once and also had to grow up and become a man.

When I attended a memorial for Elaine Hyde, I watched her grandchildren cry over her death. She had been so involved in their lives, they felt the loss and showed it through their tears.

It spoke volumes to me. After the memorial, I told one of her children, “I don’t remember crying over my grandmother or grandpa. They were distant to me. I hope my grandchildren will cry for me. But, only if I stay connected and in their lives will there be tears in their eyes.”

How to stay relevant; that is the question. A television newscaster came to our writers’ group. He told us that the station wasn’t moving forward. The owner of the station started the network, is old and makes old decisions. He’s the boss and every decision passes by him and he hasn’t changed. The staff tries to stay current, but the station had lost its currency for the new generation.

Not only for them, but even we who are older, we’ve changed and we recognize words that are dead and a format that doesn’t work anymore. Anyone who is not flowing in the Holy Spirit is stuck in the past and will not have relevancy.

I said to the speaker, “Your boss either needs to stay young or move over and let the young blood come in. He will destroy what he has worked to build.”

The speaker said, “The financial donors are older and want the station to stay the way it is. They are dying off, and who will keep the station going?”

It won’t be the young people. They can’t identify. They need fresh words living in this time when evil is on every side. It might be his time to step down and give the young people center stage. Stay in the mix, but stand on the sidelines. Cheer and support the next bright minds and learn to appreciate them. Keep God current.

A good example is in our churches. Many older pastors have stepped down. Young men have been touched by God and are bringing strong messages today. These young pastors need our blessing and encouragement. They are relevant to a generation that is reeling and whirling and being beat up by their peers. They need a relevant God.

Our grandson called and asked to take us to church and buy lunch as a thank you for all we did. The message was strong and without compromise from our young pastor. That day, the pastor poured himself out, talked about being a young man and his own trials growing up. He connected with our grandson’s need through the Book of Proverbs. Our grandson talked about what he had heard all through lunch.

Later he texted me. “Grandma, I’m reading Proverbs. Tell me about it.”

“It’s wisdom for young men and old. Pray first, asked God what he is saying to you, then read one chapter a day.”

This summer was a hard place for our grandson and he sought us out for conversation. After each visit, I’d say to him, “Let’s ask God to seal these words to your heart. You will need them one day. We might not be around.”

Final brushstroke: He gave us one of the best summers of our lives. We can’t stay old and live in the way it used to be. It’s about moving into our grandchildren’s lives, living in these last days and sharing with them the fullness of our lives. Our grandchildren need us and we need them.

Readers’ comments

Send your comments to betty@bettyslade.com.

This story was posted on August 31, 2017.