Solomon had worked and wearied the northern tribes of Israel for most of his forty-year reign, working to develop and improve the southern half of the nation. Their frustration boiled over about the time that Solomon died. When his son assumed the throne, a delegation of northern leaders came to plead their case before him.
The old advisors, men who had served Solomon for years, suggested that the new king listen to the complaints of his subjects and make some concessions to secure their continued loyalty. Rehoboam’s peers, their pride and arrogance not yet tempered by the hard knocks of life, pushed him to be even more aggressive toward the citizens of the north.
He listened to his young friends. The result? Abraham’s family, God’s chosen people, became a divided nation, their allegiance split between two kings, and the system of worship God gave them altered to fit their new positions of political power.
Generational tension. When the young think the old are out of step with the times, and the old think the young want to obliterate all ties to the past.
Here is mankind’s greatest weakness revealed. One generation spends their lives training a younger generation, but they will never trust them enough to empower them. A young generation hungrily consumes their parents’ resources and selfishly absorbs their nurturing, but when grown, rejects their ideals and values as embarrassingly simple and out-dated.
Very few handle it well – even guys in the Bible. Moses, with God’s guidance, turned things over to Joshua in passing fashion. David did a good job passing the kingdom on to Solomon. Jesus empowered His disciples to carry on His work. But that’s about it. Most folks bungled it.
The tension is revealed when parents unwittingly concede spiritual leadership to their children. Intimidated when their teenagers push against their rules, parents modify or delete them altogether. Embarrassed because they cannot explain the reasons behind their lifestyle choices, parents adjust them downward until their children finally deem them acceptable. In both cases, parents are yielding family leadership to the younger generation. Now, the family’s spiritual values will be adjusted to support the new lifestyle choices the family has adopted. Too frequently, these new decisions are not motivated by scripture or experience, but are influenced by popular trends and peers – not unlike Rehoboam choosing his friends’ advice over what the old men suggested.
When that happens, the voices of the old men are silenced, their wisdom and experience buried years before they die.
Even though he was already anointed and had just saved Israel’s collective hides by taking on Goliath, David was still years away from becoming his country’s spiritual leader. This dynamic young man captured the heart of his countrymen, but God put him right back to work as a servant before Goliath’s body was even cold. It would be many more years before David would assume the throne that God was grooming him to occupy.
A demonstration of strong faith or remarkable ability is not an indicator of one’s readiness to assume the role of spiritual leader. Often, a little more tempering and testing is necessary to round out a person’s education and to ground his or her emotions.
Parents, don’t turn over the spiritual leadership of your family to the ones God has called you to train and establish. Don’t let their attitudes, rebuttals, and discontent knock you off course. Your wisdom and experience is vital to your children’s spiritual success. Don’t fall prey to their foolishness and wind up withholding from them the things they need the most: your guidance and direction.
Don’t become a victim of Generational Tension. As I heard a preacher say: “Every generation deserves an old man to stand between them and Sodom.”
Don’t be afraid to be that old man!