by: Allen Domelle
Frank Melbourne and his wife came to the church where I grew up in the latter years of their lives. They spent over fifty years as missionaries to Spain. His spirit about serving the LORD was amazing. I used to go over to his house just to spend some time with this patriarch of the faith. Their years of serving the LORD were not begrudging to them at all. They talked fondly of the years of service they had in ministering to the people of Spain.
One thing was very evident about Bro. Melbourne in his final years; he had not given up on serving the LORD. I was just a teenage boy who was called to preach and led in many of the ministries of the church, but Bro. Melbourne never one time discouraged me even though there were some times he could have easily compared what I did to his vast ministry. Instead of tearing me down, he spent many of those final years of his life giving me nuggets of wisdom to help me in the ministry. I still appreciate his encouraging words. I’m sure I didn’t do everything the way he would have done it, but instead of scolding me he wisely gave his advice in an encouraging manner which helped me to develop some of my philosophies concerning the ministry. Don’t get me wrong, he was very strong when it came to doctrine. He never compromised truth just for the sake of not offending me, but with wisdom he helped prepare me and others to serve God for years to come.
David was coming down to the end of his life. He had just about finished his race. He could have spent the final years of his life basking in the glory of his accomplishments. He also could have become bitter as he saw another generation rising to take his place. He had one other choice; He had a choice to spend the latter years of his life making sure the next generation was prepared to take over when he was gone. He chose to do the latter, and because of this Solomon served the LORD the majority of his reign. David said to Solomon in 1 Chronicles 28:10, “Take heed now; for the LORD hath chosen thee to build an house for the sanctuary: be strong, and do it.” I find in this verses four things that David did to prepare the next generation.
First, David encouraged the next generation. David told Solomon, “…be strong, and do it.” This was pure encouragement. He didn’t spend his time criticizing Solomon because he didn’t do things like he did; instead, he encouraged him to carry on the LORD’s work according to the manner God had given them. He didn’t compare them to previous generations, but he encouraged them because he understood that they would have to fight their own battles just like he did.
We must be careful that we don’t criticize and compare the younger generations to previous generations to the point that we discourage them from wanting what we have. You will do more good encouraging the younger generation than you will by attacking them, discouraging them and criticizing them. It’s unfair to compare them to previous generations because they have not lived their whole lives. Previous generations are a complete package; whereas, a young generation is only starting to build their package. It’s unwise to compare complete packages to partial packages. Encourage them as they build their package according to the pattern of God’s Word.
I remember Dr. Wendell Evans met with the college staff of Hyles-Anderson College at the beginning of one school year and admonished them to be patient with the new class of students coming in. He said that he had heard many of the college staff and faculty bemoan the fact that the incoming freshmen students were just not as mature as they used to be. Dr. Evans wisely reminded us that the freshmen students were still eighteen years of age, but that we were one year older. He reminded us that the further we get away from that age the more we are going to think their maturity level is lower because we tend to forget what we were like when we were their age. This wise advice given to us was to help us encourage the younger generation instead of constantly riding them to the point of discouragement.
I’m in no way trying to justify wrong doctrine and compromise, but I do believe we need to add the ministry of encouragement to our strong stand. Paul encouraged Timothy, and it was obvious it helped him in his younger formative years to become a strong preacher later in his life. A younger generation will be more apt to want your advice if you learn to encourage them.
Second, David reminded them of the seriousness of their work. He said, “Take heed now…”While you encourage the next generation, you would be wise to remind them of what they are undertaking and that it is their responsibility to pass on to the generation following them what has been given to them. This must always be kept in the forefront of their minds so that they don’t become careless with their lives.
We live in a generation that seems to enjoy playing more than working. Let me kindly remind you that the work of the LORD is not a playground. I’m for enjoying the Christian life, but we are in a spiritual warfare. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” We must never forget that people will be greatly hurt when we become careless about the ministry. Remind the next generation the seriousness of protecting their purity and testimony. Remind them of the seriousness of keeping their marriage and family strong. Remind them of the seriousness of keeping their walk with God fresh and regular. There is nothing wrong with having a good time as you serve the LORD, but we must always remind the next generation that the Devil never takes a vacation and is always looking for an opportunity to destroy them.
Third, David showed them the pattern they were to live. David spent the next few verses showing them the pattern for the temple. The only way you are going to show them the pattern of living is to live that pattern yourself. Don’t grow old and tell the younger generation what they need to do as you sit and do nothing. Stay involved in the LORD’s work and show them how to do it.
I am troubled by an older generation who has let up after years of serving the LORD. Where once it was never right to stay home from church, I’m finding that many who get older don’t fight to stay faithful to church. I am in no way condemning those who stay home, as there are many who are older fighting serious health issues. All I’m saying is that the next generation needs to see that the old paths are important all the way to death. The best way to show the pattern of the old paths to the next generation is to continue walking those paths yourself. Always remember that you may have retired from your earthly employment, but there is no retirement in the LORD’s work.
Fourth, David taught them the pattern they were to live. Teaching the next generation will be inconvenient at times, but if you expect them to carry on what you were taught, then you must take the time to teach them. It will be frustrating at times, but you must remember that you frustrated those who taught you. Don’t assume that the next generation knows what to do, but take the time to teach them in an encouraging manner.
I have often reminded many preachers that what we take for granted that everyone should know they don’t know. What we often forget is that we were taught when we were young. Someone made sure to take the time to teach us. What they taught us most likely seemed so simple that they thought everyone should know it, but they still taught it. What you think is simple could be something they have never heard. Don’t just teach and preach what we should and should not do, but teach them why. Show them from the authority of God’s Word why we do things the way we do them.
Let this article be a simple reminder that it is not only important for you to live right, but it’s also important that you teach the next generation the right way of living. It is irresponsible to live right and not prepare the next generation to do the same. Let me encourage you to live your life investing in the next generation. You will never regret living such a life.