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Life At Its Best: Believe in positive despite negative

By By Jim Graff
Jan. 18, 2013 at midnight
Updated Jan. 17, 2013 at 7:18 p.m.

Jim Graff

Today, a lot of talk goes on about the next generation. Unfortunately, what's said isn't always very positive. In fact, when describing the group, adjectives such as "distracted," "materialistic," and "hard-headed" are often used.

As parents and adults, it can be easy to buy into these descriptions. However, we must never allow the world's opinions of our kids to override the truth of who God says they are and who he says they can become.

A.W. Milne recognized the power of this truth. He served as a missionary to the people in the South Pacific, one of the most dangerous places at that time. Few missionaries to this land had ever lived to return home.

When others heard he was going, they tried to change his mind. They told him it was hopeless and impossible to get through to the people. But, despite their doubts, Milne headed for the South Pacific, not knowing he'd be the missionary who finally broke through.

Milne stayed in the South Pacific 35 years, consistently loving and teaching the people. Through his life, their entire nation was transformed. When he died, they honored him with a tombstone that read: "When he came there was no light. When he left, there was no darkness."

That's the kind of influence God has called us to have on the next generation. People everywhere will try to convince us it's hopeless, but we can't give up on them. Like Milne, we must continue to believe in their potential, despite negative reports. We must be willing to step out of our world and into theirs to love and disciple them.

Ephesians 6:4 shows us what it takes to do this. It says, "Provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."

Positively impacting the next generation starts with nurturing their deepest dreams and desires. Like all of us, they want to be understood. They're not looking for people who will criticize or condemn them. They're looking for people who genuinely care.

We must take time to listen and encourage what's in their hearts. It may require slowing down our schedule a bit, but there's no responsibility or privilege greater than nurturing the potential of the next generation.

Then, not only must we nurture them, but we must also train them in God's ways. When we show them we care, we gain influence in their lives. We can use that influence to train them in a way that's both loving and uncompromised.

We may not always know exactly what to say or how to say it, but we can't let that hold us back. Instead, we must act with confidence, trusting that God will help us clearly and effectively communicate his message of love and truth.

How are you impacting the next generation? I encourage you to become a mentor to someone. Take time to love them, listen to them and encourage what's in their heart. Then, spend time training them in God's truth. You can make a difference.

Jim Graff is the Senior Pastor of Faith Family Church in Victoria. faithfamilyvictoria.com.

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