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A generation that has been lied to

The sad thing is that my generation doesn’t seem to realize that it has been doing the lying. Young people inevitably mistrust their elders to a certain extent and we just chalk it up to that. But we have no clue how deep the cynicism actually goes. Having spent much of my life helping young peop…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

The sad thing is that my generation doesn’t seem to realize that it has been doing the lying. Young people inevitably mistrust their elders to a certain extent and we just chalk it up to that. But we have no clue how deep the cynicism actually goes. Having spent much of my life helping young people reach for their dreams, I’ve come to recognize the way that they flinch when you ask them to trust you.

One of the biggest lies we’ve asked young people to believe is that our way of life will actually produce happiness.

“Working harder and spending more,” we’ve told them, “will make you more satisfied.” You can see this in the statistics of time parents spend with children (time spent has greatly declined over the last generation).

Of course, our children know that the opposite is true. As they’ve received an ever-shrinking percentage of their parents’ time, they’ve been left to fend for themselves.

We’ve traded time for stuff, relationship for task, and young people know in their gut that it’s a fool’s bargain. They’ve been ripped off of the one thing that means more to them than anything, a sense of their deep value to their parents as reflected in their priorities.

And for what? More square footage in our homes? It’s selfish craziness.

And then there are the other assorted lies that make young people distrust institutions. Authority figures routinely get caught in a credibility gap. Pastors promise the abundant life and get run out of town by control-happy elder boards. Youth leaders promise relationship and take a better job at another church. Politicians promise the moon and deliver higher taxes. Advertisements promise a better life that they can’t deliver and the consumerism they push puts us in bondage to credit cards.

Who will teach this generation of young people to trust if not their parents? It starts with us. We need to take a fresh look at our integrity and begin making the kind of promises young people long for us to keep.

Comments (5)

  • I’m looking through the AIM web-site to see what your ministry is about. My daughter has, in the last 10 days, further formulated her desire to follow Gods’ tug on her heart. I’m scared, full of amazing awe, and distracted by my picture of what she should do after her 1st year of college. She connects with what you are saying; how can we as parents have the future planned for her? She’s stayed through her first college year, but the theme has continued to be, service and developing a closer relationship to the Lord. We say, can’t you do this in the Chicago suburbs? She says no, in South Africa. Thanks for writing God’s direction at this time. Mom

  • One of the biggest influences in my parenting was watching with my two boys the retirement ceremony for David Robinson, the great basketball player from the San Antonio Spurs. After many speeches from friends, coaches and teammates it came time for Robinson to speak. After thanking many people including members of the organization, coaches, friends, teammates and his parents, Robinson turned to his 2 boys and told them in front of a packed arena and the television audiance that is what he wanted for them was to grow up to be men of God. I was immediately stricken by the question of whether I had clearly communicated to my children that this was my goal for them: to be men and women of God. The qick and sad conclusion was that I had failed but by God’s grace I was able to do so that very night and have been able to do so many times since.

    I have had the opprtunity to share my struggle with many parents, a number of whom our in leadership in churches. It breaks my heart to say that when push comes to shove, very few really want the chidren to live lives for God first. This is largley because God is not really first in most parents lives. Priorities are money, career, populaity, fame, power, control, right living, rules, ethics, good wroks, religion, and even the Bible, but not God.

  • Kathy – I think your daughter is right. her number one task is not to further enlarge her intellect or knowledge base. her number one task is to wake up to what God is doing in her and the world and to join him in it. her intellect is stimulated at college, but her spirit will be awakened in South Africa. she will become a true disciple (i suggest getting under Christina Via thru the FYM program in Jeffries Bay).

  • Amen, Keith. Well done, brother. I need to check back with my kids. they’re on track at ages 17, 19, 20, 22, and 24, but i need to get an update.

  • This is one of those times when I am grateful that the Lord has withheld monetary blessings from us as a family. We get by and are gradually getting out of debt but we are blessed with family and friends and the ability to work completely from home despite many health issues. Our children are learning that it is not about getting ahead or getting more stuff but instead it is about being in God’s will and where God puts you. Our favorite prayer around here is to ask God to get us on His timetable and put us where He wants usHe always responds and they get to see first hand what happens when God is in controldivine interactions, interruptions, and interventions have become a daily thing. “Look what God did today” is one of their favorite phrases. I honestly pray that He never gives us too much or allows us to get ahead on our own so we don’t forget that it is all His anywayit is too easy to forget when things get comfortable, enough to pay the bills and to be a blessing to others would be nice, more than that would be too much.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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