While change of any kind is rarely easy, it is often inevitable. Nonetheless, I confess I am often as frustrated by change as anyone else.
When we grow too accustomed to anything, we face the temptation to overlook it or take it for granted. We settle into ruts and become lackadaisical about our personal discipline and lifestyle habits. We let frantic, frenetic busyness consume our frazzled psyches and exhausted bodies. We surf and scroll on our phones instead of unplugging and relating to our loved ones face-to-face.
The past several months have caused many of us to reevaluate our priorities, beliefs, attitudes and desires for the future. As we have faced a horrific global pandemic, social unrest and divisive politics, we have realized that our actions in this generation have consequences for the next — for better or for worse. As the psalmist writes, “Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice. Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever” (Psalm 112:5-6).
Practicing righteousness — living for and investing your resources in God’s purposes — lasts forever.
Let us consider how we can develop the next generation by giving our time, our talent, our attention and our treasure.
I believe the time we are given on this earth is priceless. While money comes and goes, our time is a finite commodity; once we spend it, it is gone. And we are not guaranteed tomorrow.
We must invest the time we have been given in what matters most. All of us are guilty of wasting this precious gift, but we must choose to be intentional about investing in meaningful activities and relationships. We can choose each day to spend time with God, to love and serve others as we are called, and to bring joy, peace and hope to those we encounter.
Each of us has been given unique abilities, talents and gifts. We all have diverse backgrounds, experiences and opportunities.
Let us embrace who God has made us to be so that we can keep our egos in check and resist the urge to make our own accomplishments our sole motivation. God has made us who we are for a reason — we should invest our personal talents in the lives of others in ways that will outlast any award, trophy, title or achievement.
Every day, we interact with the people who have been placed in our lives: our family, neighbors, coworkers and bosses, team members and clients, friends and the people we may only see occasionally or once, such as sales representatives, wait staff, baristas, store clerks, delivery drivers and other service providers.
We should engage with those around us and give them our undivided attention. At a time when the entire world is hurting, we all have countless opportunities to show kindness, patience, respect and encouragement to one another.
While money may top the list of what we think about when we hear the word “treasure”, treasure actually includes more than just what we earn or give to worthy causes. Really, everything we have been given falls into this category: our jobs, our possessions, our savings, our attitudes, our entire lifestyle. Often, we think too little about how or what we can give and end up keeping more than enough for ourselves.
The choices we make now will shape the lives of future generations in ways we cannot yet understand, just as our forebearers’ choices have shaped our own lives. That is why we should pass down our stories to our children and grandchildren — the stories of our hard times as well as the stories of our victories. Our stories will help them knock down walls of division and oppression and allow them to build bridges of reconciliation and freedom.
I understand that it is not always easy to believe that ruins can become bridges in the midst of trials, turmoil and trauma. One of the great concerns many people have shared with me over the course of this pandemic is that their children’s inheritance is in danger. With the virus running rampant, the economy causing financial distress, jobs being lost and people protesting injustice, many of us have wondered if all we have worked for has been in vain.
The answer is absolutely not. Our children will walk upon the ruins of what we bring down in our generation. The battles we are currently fighting, internally and externally, become the stepping stones to thriving for future generations.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, executive producer of “Breakthrough” with 20th Century Fox and author of “From Survive to Thrive: Live a Holy, Healed, Healthy, Happy, Humble, Hungry, and Honoring Life” (Charisma House Publishing), a best-seller on Amazon. CNN and FOX News have called him “the leader of the Hispanic Evangelical movement” and TIME magazine nominated him among the 100 most influential leaders in America.