This isn’t the guest post it was going to be. First there was the fight then the sermon. Oh, and I should add, the whisper.
One fascinating part of this book I am struggling to write (Generational Fathering) is researching generational dynamics. The contrast with how Boomers behave compared to the generation they spawned, Generation X, plays out in every behavior category. Management, parenting, education, and politics are the most distinct. Most dad blog readers and writers are GenX. That would be, as a cultural generality, independent, authority shy, team oriented, solution focused, inclusive, holistic types. The “me” generational Millennials are just now becoming moms and dads. The oldest of them—just now touching 30—are becoming bloggers.
“Get on with it. So what about the fight?” you say.
Carolyn, my still gorgeous, insightful, savvy life-mate of 46 years, erupted in a fit as we talked about her spoiled, incorrigibly selfish, jobless, DUI felon nephew. You’ve got it all wrong if you thought I was the one who brought all this up. She was furious that her bed-ridden, single sister in her 60’s was being so neglected. I tried to ease the ire with sagacious insights how his behavior is a familiar pattern among the Millennials who govern their own world their way and tend to shun traditional values. “Honey, he’s the heart of the “Me Generation.” Now she’s yelling at me because I seemed to be excusing him.
“He’s a reprobate, a prodigal,” using old Boomer words to breathe fire on him, repeating how he ran off with a small inheritance instead of finishing his computer tech training, for which he claims to be a genius (but he can hack into personal computers!).
The sermon part came the next day. Following the pastor on my new smart phone in The Message app, I both heard and saw The Prodigal Son parable in fresh light. It was the kind of light that takes advantage of quiet moments to tunnel down into the dark—or maybe just shady—parts of the heart. It had, I figured, everything to do with my 28 year-old prodigal nephew-in-law. The laser strobe showed it had even more to do with me, the good, faithful stay-at-home son.
Here’s how I’d unpack that after note-taking and reflection. And if you care to fold this into your day, use your app or your trusty NON-Millennial paper Bible to re-read Luke 15. Be sure not to miss the setting. It will have a familiar ring. Grumbling elders and religious kingpins carped, “He takes in sinners and eats meals with them, treating them like old friends.” Their grumbling triggered three stories from Jesus; the one-in-a-hundred lost sheep, the illustration of the woman with one lost coin in ten (allowing us to hear how the angels in Heaven rejoice with the capture of one lost soul…think about that). Then, of course, the one about the good and faithful son and the celebrated lost son who finally begs his way back to the father’s wealthy household.
Before this starts to feel like another sermon, let me tell you what I discovered at the other end of the laser light zap. The lost son was the younger of the two. The griping older son was like we pastor-missionary-leader oldest son types. Very responsible. Faithful. Hanging in there for the “job well done, son” thing. Then I whine when God’s unexplainable Grace Falls equally or even greater on the late-conversion wonders. I say it’s wonderful, but don’t like it when I’m in the shadows of recognition. .
So, how’d I go from a nephew jerk, a fight, a sermon, and a whisper to this?
It’s the whisper.
It’s not about the kid who’s about to inherit more. It’s not about the pornography-addicted hot-shot who was transformed in a Wild at Heart boot camp now pastoring a church, a big one. God whispered to me. There was a third Son in this story. The One who told it. He whispered the same thing the father in the story said, “Gary, my son, you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours—but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! He was lost, and he’s found!”(v31, 32, MSG). Oh, yeah, and the angels rejoice.
And it forced me to repent of my arrogance and ask Carolyn to pray with me for the return of “Little Eric,” the prodigal nephew Millennial turd.
- If generational cultures interest you, especially if you are missions-minded, @Justinlong has outstanding insights and blogs on mission’s data. This one on how generations will affect the future of missions is remarkable http://bit.ly/krqk9D
- For anyone curious enough, I’m putting the first page of Generational Fathering’s Introduction on http://on.fb.me/kOgB6z. I’m worried it might be too literary, too fluffy for an old cowboy trying to introduce recycled “old” concepts of fathering. Any comments can come back to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow Gary on Twitter @GaryGENDAD
Married to a true beauty for 47 years. “Retired” or whatever better term applies to guy out of the employment cycle, getting a Navy pension (sounds really old, right?) and YOUR social security contributions. Thank you. A grandfather of six by one be-fruitful-and-multiply daughter. Writing a book with her husband, my best friend. It’s about our “companion fathering” bringing two generation to bear on the latest gang of kids. My son died of cancer at 31, so I have a “life is hard” perspective of walking with God. Before that a rancher doing international business from a lovely log home in the Colorado mountains. My four businesses were pioneering for what is now common in missions, “Business as Mission.” Got there by way of helping start and supervise the gunslingers of a new mission, Frontiers, planting churches in Muslim lands. Somewhere in there I retired from the naval reserves, a captain with 32 years under my brass-buckled belt; I was both warrior and peacemaker because I also served as a pastor…short-term calling; the warrior in me didn’t work well with whiners. Ten years with Campus Crusade, helping launch the military ministry. That was right after landing 301 times to, fortunately, match 301 take offs from the deck of a carrier off Vietnam and one time returning from those skies when the other guy with red stars on his wings did not. Now I write. I keep www.GenDads.com pretty lively with fathering stories, both mine and those of my therapist son-in-law. If you can’t stow your curiosity, a full profile of the two of us and our book shows up at http://www.generationalfatheirng.com.