If you dwell on the gray side of the millennial divide, I have an important message for you. The Church needs you. I can't proclaim this loudly enough, I can't plead with you earnestly enough. I'm one of you, and you can believe me when I tell you that, in spite of what you may perceive, there is a generation of young people who are hungering for our presence.
Although valid reasons exist for the perception, I disagree emphatically with the notion of there being any form of wholesale dismisssal and disregard of our wisdom of years. Dismissal is certainly taking place, but it's not our wisdom that is being rejected. Right or wrong, what is being dismissed is our unwillingness to relinquish our white-knuckled grip on our preferences and prideful protections. What is being disregarded is our unwillingness to release our chokehold on our personal comforts that are threatened in the midst of swirling change. In other words, it's our dispositon that is being rejected, a disposition that raps on the door of my own discomforted soul.
So with understanding and deep respect, I lovingly ask you to accept the counsel I give to my own proud and selfish heart: Get over yourself. By God's grace, get over any dashed expectations, get over any denied preferences, and get over any diminished influence. By God's grace, cling to Truth tightly enough not to waste time waving banners of marginal cause. By God's grace, cling to Christ tenaciously enough not to whine over matters of minimal consequence. By God's grace, love a young and increasingly narcissistic generation enough to expend your energy offering the instruction that we know their hearts desperately need. Offer them the instruction that to die to self is better than to live for self.
Nothing will fully erase generational divides within the Church other than authentic gospel appropriation. Only God's sovereign hand of grace has the power to suffocate our prideful desires to be praised and preferred, and only His hand of grace has the power to strangle our arrogant demands to have our own way and our own will. The differences that exist in the Body are more deeply defined than ever, and only Christ provides enough love to lean in with open arms of aceptance and not lean back with closed arms of rejection. As mature members of the Church, let's lead the way. Let's fall on our feeble knees, replaced or otherwise, and ask God to humble our hearts. Let's fix our eyes on Christ solidly enough to enter into fellowship with His sufferings, willingly surrendering our preferences, perspectives, and protection for the sake of the Kingdom.
I admit this plea is coming from one who is a hopeless lover of the young, with "young" including that 40-year-old I once thought was a frog's breath shy of death. This expanding cohort of youth fill my life with more joy than I can relate, ministering to my heart in more ways than I can recount. I listen to them enough to know that they yearn for our presence and value our input. I'm outdated enough to know they don't care about stylistic differences. They aren't looking for us to be like them, they're looking for us to love them. They aren't seeking what they have, they're seeking what they don't have. They're not needing us to shame them, they're needing us to serve them; not lecture them, but listen to them; not scowl at them, but smile at them. Advanced age gives us every reason not to retreat, because they need engagement that is less hipster, and more humble; less fun, and more focused; less silly, and more serious; less witty, and more wise. They need to see a real display of Christ's sovereign preservation, real demonstration of Christ's sovereign protection, and real defense of Christ's sovereign perfection. In other words, they need our wisdom of years. They're a bright bunch, and most know what they need.
So I plead with you. Humble yourself and serve them. I can assure you that you'll no longer be focusing on every right to be disappointed in them, because you'll be too busy finding every reason to delight in them.