“Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.”(Matthew 15:14)
As a shepherd I try to repeat management practices that have worked in the past. However, circumstances change that may present a new situation, one that may lack a previous pattern to follow. I was amazed to watch some sheep earlier this month go for several days without eating because they did not know the hay in front of them was to satisfy their hunger.
Here’s some background. My lambs are born in April when the green grass of spring provides grazing for their mothers. When the lambs are about three weeks old they begin to graze as they follow their mothers. All lambs are weaned from the ewes in late summer and placed in different pastures to separate them from the older sheep during this weaning process. Each fall some of the ewe lambs are kept to replace some of the older ewes in the flock. Under normal circumstances these ewe lamb replacements are placed back with the older sheep just prior to the breeding season in early November. Except for the one period of about one to two months these young sheep grow up literally following the tracks of older sheep.
The fall/winter 2006 season was a bit different because we entered the winter feeding period with about 35 lambs that were in a field without any adult guidance. A winter storm that brought about four inches of snow topped with a hard crust of ice presented a new circumstance for those lambs, grazing land covered with snow and ice. They had no access to feed until I put some hay in the field. We had a problem because the lambs didn’t know the hay was a feedstuff. Their entire life up to that point had been spent in pasture without a trace of snow. It took about three days before they began eating the hay. I wasn’t totally surprised because I know the importance of adults leading young sheep. Much of the behavior of a young sheep is based upon what they observe in the older sheep.
We Christians should learn something from this model. Even the most basic and simple things in life are taught to young people by what they observe in other people. Young people in our culture spend too much time learning from one another, or from the filth found in some music and most all movies and television programs. Anyone who has given a casual glance at TV shows aimed at school children will notice the sales pitches made to our innocent children are not appropriate. We don’t need the television programming and advertising teaching our children.
And, we don’t need our children learning from their peers in some school system six to eight hours daily Monday through Friday. Many church congregations segregate age groups in such a manner that the programming is supposedly appropriate for each age group. Some people get the idea that a church youth pastor has to act like a crazy teen in order to relate to the younger set. You know the prevailing mentality; get a youth pastor who can relate to teens. That’s fine, but why not emphasize teaching young people to relate to adults, an age group they will inhabit much longer than the teen years? More often than not we simply feed the selfish felt needs of the teens.
Separating people in the church according to age may have some benefit, but I think it breeds selfishness in the participants. We need to understand that even in churches and Christian schools we have situations where young people are learning more about the culture from their peers than they learn from adults. One primary reason it is difficult to relate to teens is because we have let someone, or some entities influence them more than their own parents.
If we want our young people to grow properly into mature adults, it is best that they remain with the older ones in the flock to follow their ways as we might find in a homeschooling family. I am not saying homeschooling is the answer as to how adults give proper training to our children, however I do imply that the adult Christian influence on our children is below par. Why do teens seem to live in a different world? Answer, they graze in a different pasture, perhaps one covered with snow and ice. My young maturing sheep were lost in a winter situation with snow covered pastures. When the young are with the adults then they learn how to eat hay by following the adults.
I think it is worth noting here that the sexual revolution that began in the 1960s resulted in a proliferation of many unhealthy influences on our children. Examples include children’s rights, abortion on demand following sex on demand, and the general idea that sex outside of marriage is okay if two people have a “meaningful relationship.” Sure. And, sex is not the only issue; it is just perhaps the most visible one among several that catapulted two generations of people into such abnormal rebellion and selfishness based upon each individual’s felt needs. Then when the ice and snow blanket their pasture, they begin to starve.
I could give other examples as to how important it is to have the young sheep learn from the adults. I hope, however, this one example can give us a clue about how far we have gone astray by segregating people to give age-appropriate experiences. Let’s wake up and realize that the blind leading the blind is a very poor model for training our children.