Pentecost: two paths

The promise is for you, and for your children. A promise for the future and for the generations to come. Every generation has a responsibility to and for the future. We are of course linked to the past and so each generation comes with choices as to what should continue and what will no longer serve the journey, but with a key choice as to how to relate to the generation to come. I am sure there are some good parents out there, I certainly do not think I excelled at that, but in my cluelessness tried to maintain a relationship and an encouragement for them to be who they need to be. Any success in that is down to them not me for sure. Familiar generations is important, and spiritual generations likewise.

I entitled this post as ‘two paths’ because I consider there are two ways in which any current generation can relate to the next. Both paths seem to extend life (and at times I consider this to be in a literal sense) to the current generation. The first is to verbally value the generation to come and to give them a focus and a profile but… and there is a but, but to do so because of mixed motives. I am not saying the motives are all bad, but they also include the motivation that every movement needs the energy of the younger, and in reality they are profiled with the knowledge that they are needed to bring life into ‘the house’. The result is that the younger generation gain kudos through association, but fundamentally their life is feeding and extending the life of the former generation. The result is that former generation continues, but the next generation never reach their true destiny.

The other path is where the former generation truly release the next generation, making their wisdom available but do not demand conformity. Such a pathway threatens the current shapes and existence, is risky, but is the path that has to be bravely embraced. In doing so ‘life works in them’ but when one gives, something also returns.

In the former path, life is taken; in the second pathway life is given – and received. The former works from control and conformity, the second with release and relationship.

This whole aspect is an increasing challenge to likes of me – what was my date of birth again? I entitle this blog ‘3Generations’ so am consciously embracing the need of generations together; I had a dream that my future was dependent on how I aligned to Gayle – not how she aligned to me. I have, though, lived much of my life with a platform provided, hence am weak relationally, and not well equipped to input to a younger generation. In realising that, I have been privilege to make phone calls and to contact people who have been (past tense) the next generation after mine and make apology for any aspect where I had deliberately or inadvertently seen them as life-givers, rather than be a life-giver to them.

If, however, I truly imbibe a pentecostal spirit, this promise is for me and for a connection to the next generation. There is life on offer, and I for one want to grab that as part of the promise of pentecost. And maybe if I can set out some shape for the next 30 years…


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8 thoughts on “Pentecost: two paths

  1. I was going to jump in with a comment on hierarchy on an earlier post, but think it fits here. Hierarchy doesn’t release- at least not until a position is available and has the potential to place a ladder of succession before the next generation which I suspect is increasingly rejected. Gifts are given for the building up of the body is how I read it and that leads to taking the riskier path that doesn’t link maturity to position.
    I’ve just read Richard Rohr, Falling Upward (again!) He paints a beautiful picture for those of us in or entering the second half of life who have fallen down enough to live generously alongside others. Not one generation then the next, but both and.

    1. Simon, a slightly different perspective from me here.

      “Heirarchy doesn’t release, at least not” – initially.

      My experience with my own children and seeing other models of parenting is that heirarchy can provide security and a safe pace to try and fail under the covering of a loving discipling relationship.

      The “my child and I are best friends” model runs the risk of disappointment and great insecurity.

      Plenty written on the need for boundaries for the child etc. That requires headship and, yes, heirarchy.


    2. I agree Nigel, that heirarchy can provide boundaries and loving discipleship where it’s done well and Simon’s comment on generosity is about how it can be done well. The reaction to heirarchy that so many have is because it’s so often done badly and generosity (as described by Rohr) has not been one of its characteristics.

    3. Hi Nigel and Jane, Thanks for replying. I am a father too and it has always been clear in our household that mum and dad lead the household-well at least to me and my wife! But with maturity comes growing freedom. I think Rohr would say that there is a need for structure and boundaries which are very much part of the first half of life, but those same structures will not do for the second half of life, which is when most struggle with the rigidity of an institutional hierarchy-my comments had the body of Christ in view. My point is that institutional hierarchy tends to keep people in first half of life (including leaders) and that is why it does not necessarily release-it has limits. Strong hierarchies emphasise authority of leadership/position and accountability to that leadership- depends on your background here I suspect, but not very relational or mutual. I don’t equate this with family which is probably the most recurrent theme for the church in the NT. My relationship with my children has matured and I don’t need to keep reinforcing and giving them boundaries (even if they do still call for help despite leaving home). People leave hierarchy because they don’t need those same boundaries restated year on year. Hopefully my children will go further and see visions I haven’t dreamed of (yet? I want a part in that) despite my best efforts to mess up.

  2. I don’t have any children. I have lots of children. I teach at the university and college levels. I spend my days with other peoples’ children preparing them for success in the future.

    This summer I was privileged to spend several hours with a large group of the top high school students from across the country who had gathered together for a month of leadership training. My task was to give, in 2 hours, a bit of encouragement and ways of thinking about their future, especially in regard to climate change and resilience.

    Its a tough topic to raise with young people. They are acutely aware that the people who claim to love them the most have also completely failed them. They are not stupid. They recognize that their parents and grandparents made choices over the last 30 years that now leave them in an increasingly perilous place with perhaps a very constrained or difficult (impossible?) future. Each person resolves that kind of contradiction differently. They hear ‘I love you and support you’ but ‘not enough to make any real changes to my life and world on your behalf’. That’s the place I stand in as I lead them through the classroom exercise of finding pragmatic yet imaginative ways to adapt to climate change in every thing from food supply to city building to leadership, finances and community organizing for disasters.

    At the end I tell them they have both the privilege and the burden of being the bridge to the other side of climate change. They will have to learn to take calculated risks along the way. But they also have the opportunity to craft something new and better. And then I ask if I have given them any hope. I always promise that we will end with hope. Finally, I release them to remake the world.

    I have done a version of this presentation/engagement lesson a number of times over the past decade. It is difficult to face 75 or a 100 or more young people knowing the science behind what is happening. It is not easy to enable them to find hope. But I give it my best. I can tell you this. . . this generation is desperate for the adults in their lives to find that better path, a path that will enable them to meet the challenges of the future we are bequeathing to them, a path that lets them know they are loved and supported and that we will do what is necessary and what we can to make the future the best it can be for them. They eagerly await such a commitment.

  3. I think for young and old, old and new to be fully flowing as one accord shall come more from the place of sonship where sons & daughters become spiritual fathers and mothers and to raising sons and daughters of nations..
    When a true believer knows they are a son, it makes all the difference as to how we come alongside others young and old for the new to give birth from the old.
    So flows from true identity in who we are and who the Godhead is. His nature is creative and this being the opposite of conforming..
    Hope this makes sense..
    Heres to an inspiration, innovation, imagination in the now and yet generations to come.
    Let my sons and daughters go…

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