SYNERGY: 1 + 1 > 2
The principle of synergy consistently characterizes God’s economic system: He is capable of making more of what we have (or think we do not have) and seems to function above and beyond the physical and mathematical laws He Himself has created. The feeding of the five thousand and scores of other miracles recounted in Scripture illustrate His creative and multiplying power. When we contemplate the power of partnership between generations, this principle of synergy proves particularly powerful.
According to our linear, western rationale, one generation succeeds and ultimately supersedes the previous one. Certainly, the flower children of the sixties scorned the “establishment” built by their parents’ generation and demanded a fresh brand of freewheeling independence. They rejected the lessons of the past and attempted to develop a completely different culture. However, identifying another’s mistakes does not necessarily mean we should completely discard everything about another person or group of people.
In contemplating the gifts of my children and their generation, I can readily see a sense of daring, love for adventure, and intolerance for hypocrisy and pat answers. These young people are fervent about pursuing their dreams; they are also quick to identify the failings of their parents and grandparents without losing the idealism young people need to fuel their passions.
On the other hand, those of us who are older and more experienced might prefer to take fewer risks and instead adhere to systems we feel have worked well in the past, even when facing new challenges that might demand different modes of operating. Some of us have lost our passion and perseverance; we may be exhausted and disheartened at the lawlessness of our culture and tempted to separate ourselves entirely from what we see happening around us.
In view of our different perspectives, do we truly understand that parents, grandparents, and children carry a corporate anointing for partnership and that we need each other? While it is easy to rest on our respective strengths and discount what we perceive to be the flaws in another generation, we would be wiser to actively cultivate their partnership to effect lasting transformation in a chaotic world that desperately needs to know the love and power of Jesus Christ.
Ruth, a Moabite widow, refused to abandon her Hebrew mother-in-law (Naomi) when the latter made the decision to return to her hometown of Bethlehem. She committed herself to Naomi, to Naomi’s people, and to Naomi’s God. As the story unfolds, we find that Naomi was not the only beneficiary of this partnership. Not only did Ruth work to provide for Naomi, but Ruth herself ended up marrying Boaz, a wealthy, kindhearted relative of Naomi’s deceased husband. Ruth gained a family and a heritage, and her son with Boaz is recorded as an ancestor of our Messiah.
Similarly, there was partnership and mutual affirmation between Elizabeth, the future mother of John the Baptist, and Mary, the future mother of Jesus. Mary heard from the angel Gabriel that her older, formerly barren relative was pregnant, and she went to visit her. The yet-unborn John the Baptist leaped in Elizabeth’s womb, and Elizabeth recognized Mary as the mother of her Lord. She uttered a prophetic blessing on Mary, who then broke into a prophetic song of her own magnifying God and affirming what He was doing to save His people.
As a mother and grandmother, I am asking God for specific ways to partner with the younger generations. I want to collaborate with the Holy Spirit to affirm and honor the gifts He has deposited in them; I love encouraging them to pursue their callings and their dreams. I NEED them, and I believe they need us, the more experienced generation, as well. We can certainly learn from one another. Surely one generation plus one more generation add up to more than two! Who knows what God will do when we cease dismissing and criticizing one another and begin to actively cultivate righteous partnership?
Psalm 145: 1-4 (NASB)
I will extol You, my God, O King, and I will bless Your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable.
One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.