The Relationship Between Older and Younger Men
The relationship between young men and older men can be a complicated one at times. It is the nature of young men to want to outdo the men that went before them. They are vibrant and excited about the future. They want to move forward and make progress. It is easy to think that the older men are standing in their way. As a result young men sometimes misunderstand the purpose of their relationship with older men.
One of the things that Dr. Jack Hyles understood as a young man was how to perceive and have the right relationship with the older men. I studied Dr. Hyles in this regard. When I was a young man I sought to do what he did with older men. Unfortunately I saw many young men who did not understand the relationship with the older man and missed something very important as a result. Let me tell you three different perspectives that young men can have with older men.
1. Some young men see the older men from the standpoint of competitiveness. It is easy for a young man to think that he can do it better. I remember thinking that myself as a young man. We are visionaries when were young. We think of how to improve upon things, so sometimes they see an older man as less capable than themselves. The tendency when you treat older men this way is you see them as adversaries. You begin to find their faults. I’ve seen many young men become critical of old men because all they find are the faults. They want to do it their own way because they think their way is better. Sadly, in wanting to improve they fail to see the wisdom they could gain from the older men.
2. The second group are those who worship an older man. Worship is probably not the right word. But, these are men who want and need the approval of the old man. They tend to miss out on both the faults and the virtues because they’re too busy trying to copy them. The purpose of the relationship between younger men and older men is not merely emulation. I did not copy Dr. Hyles so that I could be like him; I studied him so I could learn from him. While the first group doesn’t care with the old men think the second group thinks only about what the old men think. Neither gains the benefit from the relationship.
3. The final group is where I tried to fit. These are young men who want to study and gain wisdom from the old men. It is not that they do not see their faults; it’s that they don’t care to point them out. They are not trying to be like them or not to be like them. They are trying to learn from them. Dr. Hyles saw the faults of the older men before him. He knew they were fallible men. However, he wanted to learn what they knew and what they did in order for God to use him in a greater way. Unlike the first group these young men do not look for faults in the older men. Unlike the second group these men do not look for approval from the older men. This group looks for guidance and wisdom from the older men.
Young men, your relationship with older men is a very important one. If you understand their purpose in your life you will gain far more than if you are merely trying to compete with them or get their approval. The secret is understanding that at their worst and at their best they are but men, but God chose to use them, therefore there is something you can learn from them.
Now that I am old I recognize all three of these groups in my own life. I have young men that see me is a relic and only find fault in me, and I confess there are plenty of those to find. They do not think there’s anything they can learn from me because they want to do things different than I did them. Then I see young men who seem to want my approval but don’t really listen to what I say. They want to please me but they don’t care to learn from me. Then there are young men who allow me to share what I have learned with them. What I’m looking for are young men I can influence. I don’t want to control them and I don’t want them to be just like me, but I would love to invest some of what I’ve learned in those young men.
If you are old be aware of these three different kinds of young men so that you do not take it personally. Look for young men who desire to learn from you. If you’re a young man, be smart enough to understand that the older men have things they can teach you and you would be wise if you would listen and learn.