At this point Joshua instructs 12 men, one from each tribe of Israel, to place stones along the Jordan River. These stones weren't Joshua's idea of a pleasant garden 'feature wall'; they were to serve as signs of remembrance, to help future generations understand God's faithfulness.
Much has been said and written about the characteristics of different generations. My generation (Generation Y) never seems to come out in a positive light! When we compare our differences we can easily fall into the trap of scoffing at those who came before us or shaking our heads at those who follow.
As different generations we need to help each other. I speak to my generation when I say 'listen'. How can we recognise God's goodness if we don't learn? I speak to older generations when I say 'share'. How will we hear of God's faithfulness if the stories are not told?
Intentional mentoring is a great way to make, develop and sustain connections between different generations. In fact, the Bible gives us so many examples it's surprising we don't see it happening more often. Our cultural default is the segregation of generations and the church is no exception.
Why should we invest our time in other generations?
Mentoring is modelled to us in God's word: Jesus and his disciples, Barnabas and Paul, Paul and Timothy, Naomi and Ruth, Elijah and Elisha, Moses and Joshua, Elizabeth and Mary…the list goes on!
God's word directs us to receive knowledge and pass it on. The book of Proverbs is full of advice to heed instruction, obey and accept sound advice. We are also urged to pass on what we have learned to others: Parents to their children, older women to younger women and mature men to young men.
One of the clearest examples is the Apostle Paul's friendship with Timothy, whom he described as his 'true son in the faith'. Paul's letters show us that his purpose in training Timothy were twofold: instruction and encouragement in the Christian life and ministry. Paul's actions were motivated by his zeal for God, the gospel of Christ and his genuine love for Timothy. Like Paul we should be motivated to 'pass on' the baton to the next generation, inspired by our devotion to Christ and our sincere love for those we are teaching.
If you belong to a younger generation take my advice: be willing and open to receive instruction. It may not look how you expect. You may receive things which are hard to hear. A humble heart and willing spirit is essential to make the most of mentoring.
If you belong to an older generation: be open to God's leading. There will be people he brings your way, so prayerfully consider who you should invest time in. Flexibility is a must – accept that many people are still growing in understanding, faith, knowledge of the Bible, themselves and their relationships. Seek to set an example and pass on godly heritage. Most of all, like Paul, be honest and genuine in your love and concern for them.
â€¢ Be a 'Barnabas'. As Paul's friend and travelling companion this guy literally made a name for himself as an encourager: his name was actually Joseph, but was nicknamed 'Barnabas' which means 'Son of Encouragement'
â€¢ Explore formal and informal models of mentoring: some churches have programmes set up for mentoring, otherwise, be prepared for it to be a 'God thing'
â€¢ Openness and integrity are crucial: enjoy, celebrate and value people
â€¢ Listen, listen, listen and then listen some more: this is important in finding out where people are at
â€¢ Remember that it is God at work. Seek to glorify him
In the Old Testament Joshua instructed the Israelites to place stones of remembrance along the Jordan River to help future generations understand God's faithfulness. Time and time again we see God asking his people to remember – to build an altar, to place a stone, to break the bread and drink from the cup…he knows we are forgetful!
I challenge you to prayerfully consider those whom you could be discipling, mentoring and encouraging in the faith. Instead of lamenting our generational difference and focusing on ourselves, let's shift our focus back to God and come together to remember His faithfulness.
Sophia Sinclair is a writer living in Christchurch, New Zealand. After studying, working and training in Theatre, English Literature and Journalism, she joined the non-profit sector to work for the Anglican mission organisation NZCMS where she writes about, ponders, talks about and promotes mission around New Zealand.
Sophia Sinclair's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/sophia-sinclair.html