A Thank You to Older Men

father-and-son_fist-bumpLast week I published my challenge to older men. My generation of young men have been largely abandoned to find our own way and I hope to wake up the older men of our desperate need for them.

It’s not going well.

But that is not to say we have been completely abandoned. My story is one littered with the investment of older men in my life. I would be remiss not to properly honor them for their time and effort. This is my thank you to the individuals who have shown me the way. So, without further ado, I would like to say Thank You to:

Dad

We are all heavily influenced by our fathers. My dad was far more influential on me than I will ever know. I remember my sixth birthday. My dad bought me a chessboard and taught me how to play. We played nearly every night for months. He won every time, of course, but I caught on. About ten months later I finally, through concerted effort, was able to draw him. About a week later I beat him for the first time.

Today I mop the floor with him every time.

I think this is analogous of all my dad offered me. Unlike in chess, I don’t exceed his skill in most things, but I am so glad to have been taught by him. The most important lessons dad taught me was his fanatical dedication to my mom. He taught me this well and it has served me well in my own marriage.

He also worked for many years in a job he didn’t like to feed us. The determination and effort that took is truly an inspiration for me. To this day, I am irritated with men who won’t work really hard to care for their families. My dad showed me that you sacrifice for your family and I can’t imagine why anyone would do anything else.

Thanks dad!

Pastor James

Behind my parents, the most influential person in my life was Pastor James. He came to the church where I grew up when I was about 10 years old. You must  understand that I was born as a tiny attorney who wanted a very logical explanation for everything. I often would overwhelm and exhaust the adults in my life.

But not Pastor James.

He was very patient and would struggle with me through hard issues in scripture. Pastor James taught me to be a Christian Hedonist and showed me a God who was not simply right, but delightful. God stopped being just morally good but also experientially good. Heaven will be fun because the most fun and satisfying being ever will be there.

Pastor James taught me so many things. I remember in particular one Wednesday night when Pastor James was being accused of something (I don’t remember what). He stood in front of all of us and said, “I know you think you have dirt on me. But I promise you that no matter what you’ve got on me, I know of worse things I have done.” His response to the accusation was humility. To this day I still ponder that evening and am challenged to be gracious with those who accuse me.

Thank you Pastor James.

Mike M.

The fourth most influential person in my life was Mike, behind Pastor James and my parents. Mike invested heavily in me. he spent a great deal of time working with a teenager who needed logical explanations and arguments. He was very patient with a million questions and challenges. Mike also got me exercising for the first time in my life.

Mike’s influence on me was subtle. It was not as much a couple single events as much as a thousand little conversations. Mike’s time investment in me was enormous. It is humbling and challenging to me. Would I invest that much in a teenager? I’m not sure.

Thank you Mike.

In Summary

Anything I accomplish in my life will have the stamps of Dad, Mom, Pastor James, and Mike on it.The debt I owe them is profound. I hope that one day I will be able to serve a young man in the ways that these men (and women) have serve me.

Thank you.

-Chip

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My Challenge to Older Men

old-man-talking-to-two-young-boysNever have generations been so different.

The older generation grew up in the depression and in the 1950s. They are hard working and frugal. They grew up in churches and were mystified by the sexual revolution. They were stunned when the cultural changes of their children came.

Most of them relied on the stable institutions of culture to reign in the exuberant change among their children and grandchildren. But, unlike in generations past, the change didn’t slow, it accelerated. With growing knowledge and technology we became both smarter and more foolish. My generation rejected the wisdom of the past. We didn’t need it, we didn’t want it.

Many institutions that tied older and younger men together were crumbling. With increased travel, grandchildren were further separated from their grandparents. The dinner table because less important. In churches, Sunday School separated into grades which further isolated generations from each other. With the advent of the internet, my generation became one of the most isolated in history.

In our foolishness, we not only became isolated, we celebrated it. We pretended that our Guild Leader in World of Warcraft was our friend. We lied to ourselves by saying we have hundreds of “friends” on Facebook. By only becoming close with people of our own generation. We pooled our ignorance and have become idiots in everyone’s eyes except our own.

Older men, that’s why we need you.

We don’t know how foolish we are but we do know how lost we feel. We need you to bridge that gap.

I know I am asking something extraordinary of you. The differences between the generations is so significant that it is more like crossing cultures than crossing the street. Despite the barriers, it is so important to serve the young men who aren’t in your churches. They are the leaders of tomorrow and they are the least likely humans to be in a church.

The current and coming crisis of your men is heartbreaking. My generation of men are a mess. They are terrible fathers, husband, friends, and lovers of God. While I am part of them and suffer from many of the same weaknesses they do, I am often exhausted to see the rampant foolishness they have.

We as a church need to ask the older men to sacrifice their preferences to serve the lost generation of young men. We desperately need those stately old men to engage with younger men and challenge them to better things. One of the great sins of the older generation is that they have not worked to bridge the gap to us younger men.

We need you.

One day there won’t be any of you older men left. You will have died and my generation will be the ones left to guide the ones after us.

God help us all.

We are not prepared for this. I’m begging you older men to reach down to us younger men and guide us. We are a generation of runaways who don’t like to be pushed or challenged. It will require extraordinary patience on your part to chase, encourage, correct, and love us. We are not so different than you.

Think about it, when you were young, you were foolish and stupid, just like us. What if no men had helped and supported you in that time. Where would you be now? We have grown up without fathers to show us the way. We need you older men to invest in us.

So, to the older men. Please love us enough to get past our smart phones and video games. We are crying out for someone to show us the way. We are lost and need guides. The choice is yours. You can abandon us or you can love us enough to break down the barriers we have put up.

Please choose to love us.

-Chip