Read 1 Timothy 5:1-2
1 Never speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as you would to your own father. Talk to younger men as you would to your own brothers. 2 Treat older women as you would your mother, and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters. (NLT)
Every now and then we hear of churches which get new ministers who are of the younger generation. And we hear that these young ministers seem to dismiss the ‘oldies’, believing their own vision, their own approach, is the key to the future. And so a generation gap opens: the older members feel sidelined, the new wave has swept them aside and all is changing.
It is interesting that Timothy is one of those younger leaders. Elsewhere, Paul reminds him not to see his relative youth as a cause for timidity. Young people have a role to play and can’t just sit back and wait till their hair turns grey before they can lead. Yet in our passage today, Paul reminds Timothy that he still has to treat older church members respectfully. None of this youthful impatience and arrogance.
The young have much to teach the old and so youth is not to be despised. The old have much to teach the young, so age is not to be disrespected. One of the great services a young leader can provide for those older is to value and respect them (even while occasionally disagreeing with them). One of the great services an older church member can provide for the young leader is gentle encouragement and correction, and a willingness to tolerate some immaturity.
Church leaders, after all, are not corporate CEOs. They value each and every individual. Neither the young nor the old know it all or have it all. There need be no generation gap in the body of Christ.