A Photovotional — Pastoring Generations

GenerationalInfluenceThe photos I share in my Photovotionals (devotions based on my photos) are pictures I’ve taken, except for this one! It was taken long before I was born by an unknown photographer, over a hundred years ago. The caption states that this is “The Claassen Brothers” threshing operation. As best as we can determine it’s my grandfather with his hand resting on the “roof” of the steam engine.

My grandfather pictured here was my Dad’s dad, John Claassen. My Dad carried the same name, John Claassen. My middle name is John, as is my son Dan’s, as is my grandson Casey’s: five generations with the same name. I never met my grandpa Claassen, for he died from complications after an appendectomy when my Dad was only ten years old. This photo gives me something of a connection to a man whose genes I carry but who I never knew.

Time separates us from both our ancestors and descendants, usually when the distance is more than four generations. Most of us didn’t get to know our great great grandparents nor will most of us know our great great grandchildren. Time separates people even more than does distance. Distances can be overcome while the passage of time can’t – transportation machines we can build, time machines we can’t.

We have not known our distant ancestors nor will we know our distant descendants, but we’re connected nevertheless. The connection is not just genetic but also by influence. This influence is not limited to our own family either. We’ve all been influenced by people who are no relation to us but who, like us, are the product of their ancestors, making their ancestors influencers on our lives. And we influence not only our children but others younger than us who will go on to influence still other people, many of whom will be born long after we’re gone, if the Lord tarries with His second coming.

We’ve been given the power of choice, of how to respond to the influence of those who came before us. We’ve been given the power of choice, of how to influence those who come after us. What “curses” of past generations do we want to stop and not pass on? What “blessings” do we want to pass on? “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:19) In the chain of events that are unfolding each of us is a connecting link between the past and the future and have the choice to leave this world a better place.

As pastors we have congregations that span several generations and we seek to minister to them all. Our influence as pastors helps people deal with their past, encouraging them to give up hope of changing the past, and encouraging them to hold on to hope in making the future better than what the past has handed them.

His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.” (Luke 1:50)

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