When I Was a Child

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When I Was a Child

I am a child of the 60’s who knows his place–at least I think I do.

When it comes to one’s aspirations about changing the world something happens when you get older and I’m going to take a stab at explaining how it looks from my standpoint.

For most of my adult life I’ve challenged the status quo. I’ve tried to do so intelligently, imaginatively and hospitably–I’ve been a subversive.

I think when properly understood Christianity is radically countercultural. I think a lot of what passes for Christianity in America is a fraud. I think without the loving, transforming presence of Jesus enfleshed in Christians & the church, the world is doomed.

My professional choices have been made with the pursuit of God and God’s kingdom in mind and as a result my journey has been, and I expect will continue to be, an excellent adventure.

My thoughts today are triggered by an upcoming conference being organized by younger generation “change agents” who want to transform church and culture–I’ve been getting a stream of emails asking what I know about it (not a lot)–whether I am involved in it (I am not)– why I am NOT involved (wasn’t asked and because of my schedule probably couldn’t have participated even had I been asked).

I am excited that the next generation is taking up the cause and I am glad to share what I’ve learned if asked–BUT I really think it is time for the next generation to step up and expend in their youth the same intensity and energy I did in my youth! It is their turn.

It is important that those of us who’ve got a lot of mileage on us let the next generation make their contributions and learn from their mistakes just like my generation did.

Andrew Grove, the co-founder of Intel, told an interviewer from Fortune, “When everybody knows that something is so, it means that nobody knows nothin’.” (Click Here to read an extremely important article about the young, the old and creativity). The bad news is that in the picture accompanying today’s staublog, as the older guy I am seeing only the black balloons and the young are seeing all the colors! (My taste buds are shot too!)

Older people like me have inevitably concluded that certain things are so¢â‚¬¦so it takes the energy and enthusiasm of the inexperienced to move in the directions we no longer think are possible, probable or even productive.

I am grateful to be involved in the work of understanding faith and culture and interpreting each to the other, but I do so as an older man. This means I have some seasoning and insight, but it also means it is difficult for me to see things except through the lenses I’ve been wearing for a long time.

I’m not as energetic as I once was and as I said in The Culturally Savvy Christian, “like any child of the 1960s, there was a time when I wanted to change the world; now, I am content to simply ask God to change me.”

I have less confidence in conferences, new ideas and strategies and more awareness that what is needed more than anything and in every generation is a deeper pursuit of and knowledge of God in a local company of friends for the benefit of the world.

But I am generally not a curmudgeon or hand wringer about the multitude of new experiments going on out there (emergent church, missional church etc), because I think this generation will see things and must try things that may or may not make sense to me. (I may from time to time quip something I’ve heard like “the missional church is a theology in search of an experience and the emergent church is an experience in search of a theology,” but in my best moments I’ll be a kinder, gentler quasi-sage).

I must say when I was young I was eager to get feedback from certain few older leaders because it seemed clear to me that our faith is passed on generation to generation and we make our biggest mistakes when we don’t avail ourselves of the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of those who have gone before us.

That is why I make myself available for conversations with younger leaders, but do not impose myself on them. I am investing my life more in a local church because God led me to do so and it too is an adventure. Among the best part of my role in a local church is investing in my younger co-workers so they can become all God wants them to be.

And so I am an older man and I suppose I am reaching some point of contentment, but not without an awareness of the gap between what should be and is. My role on this planet on behalf of advancing God’s kingdom will be as big or small as God desires and I am glad to spend most of my time on a small island while big strategic conferences are being held miles away–sometimes with me involved, most times not.

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in January 15, 2008 by | No Comments »

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