Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Joshua Generation?

Coming from a charismatic/prophetic background, I've heard plenty of hype directed at both the young people and the older people about being the Joshua generation. The language of destiny, calling, and gifting is used to suggest potential greatness in the kingdom of God.

When the prophetic becomes twisted toward fluff and flattery it loses the life and power that it should have in our lives. Sadly, rather than the truth of encouragement and exhortation, we can begin feeding on the hype like a diet of marshmallows and cotton candy.

I cringe when the exhortations to young people are laced with the unfulfilled dreams and expectations of the older generation. In my mind, this is like hanging a burden on their necks to make up for our own failures, like armchair quarterbacks attempting to live our dreams through our children.

Robbymac has a great post with thoughts about this topic. He speaks of permission-giving relational leaders.

And what of greatness in the kingdom? Isn't this supposed to be a life of downward mobility, moving towards insignificance, service, and self-sacrifice? Perhaps we do our children a disservice by expecting them to change the world, if in doing so we fail to prepare them for the ordinary Christian life.

Can they experience the fullness of their Christian walk amidst the everyday life of bills, jobs, and real-life stuff? Have we taught them that their calling can only be expressed in vocational ministry or missions? Or are we equipping them to live out their gifts and callings among friends, neighbors, and co-workers?

What I hope is that in equipping and mentoring our youth, we give them dreams and visions with substance, not empty hype. Can I lead my children by example, or do I expect them to go where I've been unable or unwilling to go myself? For me, this began with letting go of the hype myself, the promises of position and importance, and embracing a life of service, embarking on the journey to love others.

Yes, let's do everything in our power to equip, encourage, and empower our children to walk closely with God, to experience the life of Christ, and to be led by His Spirit. Let's inspire them with the incredible greatness of our God and the adventure of walking closely with Him.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow Grace

It is so exciting to hear someone sharing my thoughts!

I am just emerging from the youth generation and am in my second year of working full time and it has been a struggle reconciling my dreams to the reality of living life for Christ in the daily.

A lot of people in my generation temporarily walk away from God and I was once told that it was just because they get caught up in the world. I no longer believe that this is the case - I think instead they get disillusioned and dissapointed as the dreams they were "claiming in faith" never come into reality.

Youth are not taught to be faithful or persevere under hunble circumstances - instead we are told that "kings will come to the shining of our glory".

This is my plea to all the adults out there - please get around the youth and show them your life of faithful service and this will be more powerful than any sermon they could ever recieve.

Tali

Robbymac said...

Grace,

I received an email from a former youth group member (now in her mid-20's, married, with small kids), who is a very gifted worship leader. She was prophesied over many times that she would be "going to the nations", "bringing rhythms that would change the world", and recording CD's that would be heard worldwide, etc.

In her email, she said "I used to fall for these prophecies and believe that I was destined for greatness. Now, I wonder why nobody ever prophetically called us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and choose to be truly 'nameless and faceless'. When I hear those kind of prophecies these days, I assume they're lying." (emphasis added)

I find these kind of emails totally heart-breaking. Your post is part of the remedy!

Tali,

We meet again! Thanks for your insights here and at my place. I hope we hear a lot more from you in the days to come.

Rusty said...

Grace,
Thank you for you blogs and I continue to lift you and your family up in prayer. I have been around many church like your previous experience and I have had to help many students work through a lot of anger and hurt at the church in general because of their family going through situations like yours. I am commenting because I am in total agreement with your post. As a student pastor that strives to teach students to live out their faith in humility and grace I cringe when "leaders" or others trying to be spiritual pray or should I say project into students the idea of "greatness" and "changing the world". I am just trying to get them to be faithful and experience Christ in their everyday lives and I end up spending half of my time trying to lovingly get their focus back on today. I can't tell you how many students I minister to that have been "prayed over" and live in dissapointment when the "prophecy" they heard doesn't happen. I am new to the "charasmatic" realm with a Baptist background so I try and let the Holy Spirit move and not be cynical but I sometimes wish many "well intended adults" would just pray for our students daily then try and make a show on the weekends out of the "joshua generation". Hope that makes sense, your post hit a nerve. I pray for peace for you and yours.
Rusty

Pam Hogeweide said...

grace, you slay me.

for years i despised my ordinariness. i kept waiting for something to happen, something, anything, that would catapult me out of my ordinariness and into the extraordinary Christian life that I knew was just around the corner. at some point i began to realize, This is it. This is the amazing life God has prepared for me: to live quietly and at peace with those around me. Not very glamorous. Where is the awe-inspiring power of the God of Acts chapter two in the daily grind of my white-woman-middle-class-mini-van-driving life?

I've come past despising my ordinariness. I actually now celebrate it. I realize that ordinary people like me must be among God's favorites, for he made so many of us in every nation on earth.

So yes, let's inspire this Joshua generation that they are really a Jesus generation, and Jesus, after all, was a humble working class guy who lived an obscure life until he became a heretical troublemaker...and that trouble was caused in the course of living out an ordinary life among ordinary people.

Thanks for provoking me Grace, in a good way.

Bob said...

Good stuff, Grace. The prophetic-charismatic movement isn't the only area that suffers from the delusion of significance.

Read any John Eldridge book and you'll be beaten about the head and neck about chasing a "great adventure". Men are especially assaulted with "importance" and the need to "make a difference" or "leave a legacy" in the world.

Of course, in our search for the great we lose sight of the least of these. (Where have I heard that phrase before?)

Anonymous said...

Ah..I remember the mission conferences for college students.

The speaker asking the students to prayerfully consider their futures, and stand up if they have decided to go overseas as missionaries in obedience to the Great Commission.

Of course about 90-95% of us stood up. No peer pressure there.

I remember meeting with others in small groups the day after. A girl spoke of the horror of not doing anything spectacular for God before she reached 30. LOL!

I agree with what Pam says. While living out an ordinary life, we should not lose sight of our individuality. There are way too many cookie-cutter suburban Christians who seem like carbon copies.

grace said...

Tali,
Thank you for your comment. It was great hearing a perspective from a younger person. I was hoping that my thoughts wouldn't come across as discouraging.

Your last paragraph encouraging adults to model lives of faithful service is so true. I think we have to especially model the excitement and joy that can be part of ordinary Christian life.

Robby,
Based on your experiences and your heart for the next generation, I believe that yours will be an important voice from "our" generation leading and equipping those to follow.

Rusty,
Thanks for your comments. Faithfulness for today is truly the life we need to model and teach. I hope that we can all learn new ways to allow the Holy Spirit to move without the hype and abuses we've seen.

Pam,
I haven't slain anyone in a long time. ;)

I think that embracing ordinariness sounds like a great idea.

I always enjoy the way you write and present your thoughts!

Bob,
That's so true. I think the message of success and importance is very widespread in Christian media and actually widely accepted as valid.

David,
Doing something spectacular for God seems to be a common theme.

I think it's probably true zeal and love for the Lord intermingled with our natural desire for significance.

It is always inspiring when you come across someone who it truly living out the uniqueness of who God created them to be.

Pastor Astor said...

I wish that as I was profecied to have the last of the gifts in Ephesians, I would have had the guts to yell "Bingo!"

grace said...

That would have been funny! :)