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Intergenerational Friendship: Learning From Each Other

March 23, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 142

Young adults frequently clash with older adults about how things should be done. We often refer to something we call the generation gap as a reason why these clashes happen. Perhaps some of this is the natural order of things and we should just accept it. But perhaps some of these clashes would disappear if each generation were to begin to value the other more.

Let's think about young people for a moment. Many young people think quite highly of how smart they are. They read a book about a particular subject, or watch a television program or Google some topic on the internet and suddenly they think they are an expert on whatever subject they were reading about. Then of course there are the young people who have invested a significant amount of time, money and effort to get a college education. While getting a college education is commendable, some young people think once they get that piece of paper in their hand, there is no one in the world smarter than they are. All of this is very frustrating to older adults.

What older adults wish young people understood is that reading a book, researching something on the internet or just having an academic understanding of a subject is not a guarantee for a successful life. What we read in a book, or see on television or discover on the internet is not always right. Sometimes our sources are wrong, or perhaps out of date. Sometimes the source is correct, but simply incomplete. Having head knowledge of a particular subject can be helpful, but it cannot replace learning that comes from years of practical experience. Life experiences are necessary ingredients to discovering the way the world really works. Youth tend to value what they think they "know" and disregard the experience that their elders have acquired over a lifetime. Young adults miss out on valuable wisdom when they ignore advice from an older person who has a lifetime of experience.

But older adults have not been perfect in the generational wars either. Sometimes more mature adults think that their experience so exceed a younger person's knowledge that they can simply ingore what the young person is saying. While there is no substitute for experience, sometimes experiences are limited. For example, if an older adult has spent his or her entire life in a rural area, they may not have as broad a viewpoint as a young person who lives in an urban setting, or vice versa. Even if when older adults have similar backgrounds as younger people, they must remember that times change and their own experiences in an industry or field may no longer be current. Regretfully, experience alone does not adequately qualify a person to be successful at life either.

What is needed for people to be truly successful is a combination of both intelligent learning and real life experience. Mixing learning and experience can produce a powerful combination for success. Young people can learn from the experiences of more mature people. Older people can learn about new technology and modern methods from young people. This combination of generational learning is essential for both groups to have fulfilling lives. Perhaps this is why one philosopher wrote in the biblical book of Titus that older people should mentor younger people with real world experience. Likewise that same philosopher wrote in the biblical book of First Timothy that young people should live in a way that would set an example for older people. This philosopher realized the importance of younger and older generations working together master skills and discover the secrets for successful living. Though we may never be able to completely eliminate the generation gap, the more we can reduce that gap, the happier both younger and older generations will be.

Dr. Terry W. Dorsett is a graduate of both Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and Golden Gate Baptist Theolgocial Seminary. He serves with the North American Mission Board (SBC) as a church planting catalyst in New England.

His fresh and innovative speaking style makes him an excellent facilitator for conferences and seminars across the United States. He is a widely sought after speaker in local churches.

He is a frequent contributor to Baptist Press and is also the author of numerous books, including: Developing Leadership Teams in the Bivocational Church Bible Brain Teasers: Fun Adventures through the Bible Creating Effective Partnerships: Strategies for Increasing Kingdom Impact Malachi: Finding Hope in the Midst of Adversity Mission Possible: Reaching the Next Generation through the Small Church

His blog is read by over 1,500 people a month and may be found at

Source: EzineArticles
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