The Counsel of the Young Men

Learning from Rehoboam

If you are like me, you wake up one day and you’re thirty-five with five children, and you realize, “I am not young anymore.” I feel young. I may even look young. But I am not considered young anymore—at least not by the next generation. Can you remember when you were a teen or young adult? Someone in their mid-thirties was ancient. But here I am. I was speaking to a group of students recently and they used the term “old.” Ouch! I’ve got gray hair. How can I argue?

The Old-timers

My teen years were spent growing up in a rural community in North-Central Arkansas. A small town with traditional, American values. One of those values was listening to the “old-timers” as they called them. They were considered to be full of practical life lessons. Come to find out, they were (if you listened). In this small town there was kind of a right of passage. You earned your place of respect by gaining experience and wisdom. But most of all, you had passed down to you generations of common sense that you would, in turn, pass down.

A New Day

It seems we live in a new era, which is the same as the old. I’ll explain. Experience mixed with a little gray hair now seems to make you irrelevant. Mind you, I am not referring to myself: I don’t have enough experience or gray hair to give me credibility, just enough to make me old in the eyes of teenagers!

Now we use terms like Millennial (the twenty-somethings) as if they are the first generation to “think outside the box.” Every generation feels that they are outsmarting the past generation.

The Same Old Song

Why do we ignore the counsel of the “old men” for the young? Is it because the young men tell us what we want to hear?

And they spake unto him, saying, If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever. But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, and which stood before him: And he said unto them, What counsel give ye that we may answer this people…?—1 Kings 12:7–9

I have had the privilege to be around some godly elderly men. Their hair is gray (or gone) but their wisdom is abundant. Should I tell them, “How we do things these days,” or listen to their collective experience? Rehoboam failed this lesson, and it cost him big time!

Do we need innovation? Sure. Can we be up with the times? Definitely. But why not stand on the shoulders of those who have already done it. After all, they were young men too, but they grew out of it.

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