Stewarding the Future
I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be Stewards of the Future. I know, this is my sermon topic this week but it really goes beyond this week and frames so much of my life, my calling, and really, the conversation we are all having about the future we want for our kids and grand kids, for the world.
I've had several really provocative conversations this week with people who are daily involved with young people. A dear friend who has been teaching first year english at a college in New Hampshire for over 20 years; a couple of colleagues parenting early adolescent kids; a friend who is navigating their young adult child's gender fluidity. In each conversation, the common thread is just how unprepared they feel to be navigating the 21st century landscape of young people.
My educator friend was sharing how little the administration was interested in actually teaching these young people in the ways that they learn, despite the research showing the physical changes to the brains of digital natives. My colleagues were sharing just how challenging it is to have kids who need their own phones because there is no land line at home. And despite the inherent dangers of these devices, it is critical to their families for their kids to be accessible. My other friend was sharing how their child's shifting use of pronouns was adding a layer of challenge to that already-frought period when parents and children start moving into the shared adult relational space with one another.
Maybe you are dealing with something like this yourself, or having these conversations with your friends. The truth is, I am grateful that my kids are in their later 30's and that I don't have to navigate these realities on a personal level. I don't have to face the fact that I was raised by parents who were raised in a very similar way to how I was raised. I am grateful that I was able to raise my kids using these tools and it was good enough for the era in which they were coming of age. I didn't have to face feelings of utter incompetance (beyond what every parent feels) because I had no idea how raising digital navites changes everything.
What is clear to me now is that the future our young people will inhabit doesn't operate like the past. The agreements about how, when and where we relate to one another are no longer bounded by geography, time zones, age, or similarity. There is no common understanding about what makes a "good" society. The Utopian Pluralistic world that we believed and said we desire is upon us and we are freaking out! Whether over the existance of Transgender/Non-Bindary individuals or the choice for Crypto to be the future global curency, the 21st century is all about transgressive ideas deconstructing the assumptions about the future that our children and (great) grandchildren will inhabit.
So how then are we to Steward the Future? Well, I suspect it has a lot to do with listening to the people who are living that future now. I suspect it has something to do with leaning hard into the faith story we share as Christians to rediscover the ways our ancestors navigated their transgressive moments, for good and for ill. I believe it is about being willing to keep recognizing when we are trying to drag our canoes over mountains because we just can't face the grief and loss of leaving them behind.
I pray that as we continue our journey through the mountains of this new century, and discover the future emerging in it, we can remember the words of 1 John written nearly 2000 years ago. "There is no fear in love. Instead, perfect love drives away fear." (1 John 4:18) We CAN do all things through Christ in Love, even face a future that is utterly differnt from the past. That, to me, is what will guide us in being good Stewards of the Future.
With hope and love,