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Older Men, Younger Men Need You

There is a sad and wide gulf between older men and younger men today. Generational discrimination and segregation are alive and, well, discouraging.

We have to pass the torch somehow, but so many of the bridges have been burnt. Younger guys need older guys. Older men, by God’s design and grace, there are things we will get from you and no one else. Especially those of us without dads, or Christian dads, or engaged and intentional Christian dads. Yet the decades sadly so rarely seem to play well together.

As a younger man myself, I have tried to identify how exactly older guys can love, exhort and invest in younger men around them—men like me. On behalf of other younger men, with humility and boldness, we plead with our older brothers for five things.

1. Love

Young men are often asking of older men, “Do you care about me? Do you really care?” We can watch YouTube videos for advice, wisdom and inspiration for life’s complexities. With Christian blogs today, we can access answers to most every life question without even picking up the phone. We should still ask you, but we don’t need older men mainly because they’re smarter.

Young men need steady love, a love that shadows the love of the Father (1 John 2:13–14), who teaches us about “reproach,” “prudence,” “suffering,” “adultery” and “cursing” (Proverbs 27.11–14″ data-version=”esv” data-purpose=”bible-reference”>Proverbs 27:11–14)—how to do (or avoid) all of it. The king says “do not forsake … your father’s friend.” So, we’re here. At least some of us are. Not forsaking. Maybe annoying, but not forsaking.

2. Stories

Young men need to hear, “Everything’s going to be OK.” Most days we’re pretty sure our lives are an utter failure, a disaster zone even.

We hear: “You’re not a man.” We need: “You are a man. Let’s act like it.” We hear: “You can’t beat this.” We need: “I know that voice. This is how you fight it.” We hear: “She doesn’t love you, so life is worthless.” We need: “This is a season. God knows your needs. Talk to me about it.”

God taught you lessons when you were young. You pray, “From my youth you have taught me,” and, “Even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come” (Psalm 71.17–18″ data-version=”esv” data-purpose=”bible-reference”>Psalm 71:17–18). Now, for every gray hair, we want one story of God’s faithfulness, one lesson from years of learning God and his world. One “you’ll be OK” for every silver lock.

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Paul Maxwell (@paulcmaxwell) is a PhD student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and philosophy professor at Moody Bible Institute. He writes more at his blog, paulcmaxwell.com, and pretends to like coffee.