We see the empty-eyed girl struggling to care for her baby. The boy bullying his classmates. The delinquent shooting up on the corner. We see and lament. But how can we stop the downward spiral of the next generation?
Following are five ways we can help:
Parent—Several godly men in the Bible raised ungodly children (Eli, Samuel, David), men who led God’s people and yet failed to parent their own children. As parents, we must not fail to train up our children. Recently, my husband and I took our kids to an inflatable activities center. All around signs stated the rule, “Socks are required,” but we repeatedly heard parents tell their children to take off their socks so they could climb more easily. As parents, we must not train our children to disregard rules. We must encourage obedience. We must teach them to bow to God’s ultimate authority.
Grandparent—Scripture gives examples of good grandparents (Timothy’s grandmother, Lois, who taught him about God) and bad grandparents (Athaliah, who killed her grandchildren to seize the throne). Not long ago, I heard a grandmother tell her grandkids after their dad had told them not to do something, “Don’t listen to your dad. He did that all the time when he was a kid.” She was training her grandchildren to disregard parental authority, undermining their souls in a way just as deadly as Athaliah’s murder of her grandchildren. We must be God-fearing grandparents like Lois, who seek to instill a love for God in our grandchildren.
Volunteer—We must seek opportunities to impact children and teens for good. We might teach a class, chaperone a youth event, coach T-ball, tutor at the library, anything to build relationships with a generation in desperate need of godly role models. Not long ago, some friends of ours opened their home to a teen from the projects, a kid struggling to break free from the sin patterns of his past and live his newfound faith. Maybe we can’t all take in the strugglers, but we must take opportunities to befriend such young people for the sake of the gospel.
Notice—Sometimes helping simply means noticing individuals. We should learn the names of the youth, listen to the children, offer a friendly smile. Once at a church dinner, I watched a teenager and her toddler join the end of the long line. I invited her up front where I was helping my children with their plates. I soon realized her two-year-old was carrying his own plate while she tried to fill her plate and his. I wondered, “What would it mean to her, a girl who has known only use and abuse from men, if a man helped her, not because he wanted anything from her, but to serve her for Christ’s sake?”
Pray—We must pray for the next generation. If we as Christians, through prayer and action, show the love of Christ to the young people we know, maybe God won’t say about us what He said about the Israelites of Judges 2, “another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.” Instead, God may do what He has so often done in the past: show mercy to the next generation.