We Are Spending Our Children’s Inheritance!
The Body Builder
By Captain Terry Camsey –
Have you ever seen those words on bumper stickers of recreational vehicles as you drive around? I have, often, and have generally said to myself, “Why not? You earned it. Is it so bad to want to get a little enjoyment out of it while you can?”
To be honest, I’m quite envious of them. It’s not that I particularly like camping myself, but when you see some of the recreational vehicles they are driving, you realize that they give “camping” a whole new meaning. After all, they are hardly “tents on wheels,” are they?
Recently, however, the phrase has assumed quite another connotation for me…that is, in the context of the Army inheritance we leave to generations who follow us.
I cannot escape from an association of the slogan with the parable of the talents. You remember the one, where a few stewards were given some of the master’s resources to invest. Two of them doubled the investment; the third–scared that he might lose what was left in his care–buried it.
When the master returned, he commended the two who had doubled his money and castigated the one who merely returned what he had received.
In an Army context, that forces us to consider the size and quality of the Army entrusted to us by previous generations…and then to compare that with what we have now…and what we will leave to our successors if we carry on as we have done. Will we have doubled the investment our Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, entrusted to us?…Will we have merely maintained and be able to hand on as healthy an Army as we inherited…or…
Will we actually pass on less than we inherited…because we have been busy “spending our children’s inheritance”…using up the resources we inherited without investing in growth?
The notion challenges me immensely. How does it hit you?
But, maybe, there’s an even more important dimension to consider. Do we have the right to insist that our likes and dislikes (arising out of the values of our generation) should determine the shape of the Army in the future? What chance does the Army have for growth if those controlling its “shape” belong to a generation that not only doesn’t understand later generations but tries to insist that they commit to styles and methods forged–in the heat of battle–to win those of another age?
Let’s be honest, we “oldies!” We don’t understand generations that follow us, do we? It’s strange, isn’t it…we know that we are different from our fathers and mothers, yet we expect our children to be like us! They won’t…unless they want to be perceived by their peers in the real world as “out of touch.” And yet, how many times have I heard it said by young Salvationists (including officers) “We don’t understand our generation?” Who is surprised when they spend most of their time in a more sheltered world, often reflective of days (years, in fact) long gone.
It is beginning to dawn on me that, if we want to avoid losing younger generations (attendees, soldiers, local officers and officers alike,) we are going to have to give them a serious voice in shaping the Army they inherit. Not just “token listening,” but serious attention and empowerment. The job of us “oldies” is to keep what we like going long enough to give the new generation time to shape the future Army…so that when they inherit what they shape, we can continue to enjoy what we always have–without prejudicing the movement’s effectiveness in reaching other generations.
The biggest inheritance we can leave them is, surely, freedom and encouragement and guidance as they wrestle with what kind of Army they inherit. If they help to shape it, they will own it!
And if that worries you, don’t let it. After all, you and I won’t be here anyway…we will have had our day “in the Son”…
Or was it a day “in the sun”?