I’m 30 and I still quote from dumb and dumber quite often. But I work with a population that was not even in grade school when this movie was in theaters!
They say you are most effective, in ministry, with those ten-years older and younger than you. I think about that from time to time, especially when kids are talking about some youtube video, or a new gadget that I have never heard of and for sure will not know how to use.
I also grow weary with some of the drama that comes with the territory. Whether you take bio 102a or 103b, or whether or not so and so dropped you as a facebook friend, is not always the most interesting conversation for me. However, at one point, I was that student, consumed by what I was supposed to be doing with my life and all emo-ed out with girl problems and the weight of the world.
I find myself wanting to tell students all the time: “It’s ok, this is the easy part, enjoy it, everything is going to be fine.” That’s me at 30: Mr. Cliche.
But I don’t want to be mr. cliché. I find myself circling back to the wise words of Henri Nouwen. In his excellent book, In the Name of Jesus, Nouwen tackles some of the common temptations of leaders. One of them is the temptation to be relevant.
“The leaders of the future will be those who dare to claim their irrelevance in the contemporary world as a divine vocation that allows them to enter into a deep solidarity with the anguish underlying all the glitter of success, and to bring the light of Jesus there.”
I love the line “the anguish underlying all the glitter of success,” because that describes the condition of the modern college student so well. Nouwen prescribes contemplative prayer as the antidote to the temptation of relevance. It is in listening to “the voice of love” again and again and that we find the answers to the issues of the day, to the underlying anguish, to the pain.
The best thing about getting old, at least so far, is that you realize that what you have offer the next generation is not coolness (you will never out cool them), is not stuff, is not even life lessons, but hopefully love. Nothing that I do or create or think up will be as cool as what they can find on tv but who will love them well?
As I get older that’s the question that keeps me up at night.