I spent some time with my eldest nephew, his wife, and their three lovely children last night. The kids — my great-niece Lucy, my great nephews Gideon, and his brother Josiah, are all gregarious, super-intelligent, happy, well-adjusted people. I’m grateful for that fact, and, of course, I know personally that the family’s strong faith and commitment to the Lord and His Word is the reason for that healthy situation.
I always enjoy talking with my great niece and nephews because they are thinkers. They are not self-absorbed, but are aware of the world around them and the other people who are in that world. They care about people, and they enjoy interacting with them.
They all three have wonderful imaginations, but the middle child, Josiah, has more than an imagination. He has a vision. This child loves, loves, loves building things. He just turned 7 this past year, and he has put together more buildings, vehicles, and other structures than I can count — with various building supplies available in kid versions these days.
He sees himself as a successful architect in the future. But Josiah doesn’t want to build just certain kinds of buildings or bridges or parks. He wants to build everything. And for well over a month now he has been telling us about the city he is going to build. Last night, he talked to me at great length about this city. He has plans for building various kinds of houses for families of all sizes. He has plans for businesses – including grocery stores and specialty places like coffee shops. He plans on laying out hiking trails around the city, as well as camping facilities. In fact, he has given the whole concept serious, creative thought. He shared specific details of how he could make homes special so that they would meet specific needs and preferences for the individuals who would live in them.
I sat and listened in amazement to his excited plans, and he wasn’t done when I had to leave. I needed to get to a meeting, so he’ll have to tell me some more the next time we’re together. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a few blueprints drawn up by then.
After I left, I started thinking about how large his vision is. I’ve taught school most of my adult life — at several different levels — so I’ve spent a good many years hearing children and teenagers share their ideas about what kind of work they want to do and what they want to accomplish when they become adults. But I don’t think I remember hearing anyone younger than 18 share a vision so large or so well-thought out.
Now, I’m not trying to say that my nephew is any smarter or more creative than all other children. What I am saying is that I believe the children of this generation have had so many advanced learning opportunities — and so much access to the whole world and the people who make it up — that they are capable of thinking bigger, broader, deeper, and farther than previous generations when it comes to what the possibilities are for their future. Their imaginations have more to work with and more incentive than ever before. I’m thrilled when I think about that fact. And I’m excited when I realize that if a 7-year-old can envision – in detail – the construction of an entire city today, there’s nothing big enough to stand in his way fifteen years from now when he’s ready to break ground for the first building.
So I’m going to take every opportunity I can to encourage the young people I come in contact with — whether physically or through the written word — to dream as big as their hearts desire. I know we see a lot of problems in our societies and a lot of dangers just waiting to grab the younger generation. But I’ve decided that I’m going to focus on the wealth of talent, creativity, and fortitude that is in the kids today. I’m going to encourage them and help them in every way I know how. And I’m planning on living long enough to enjoy the benefits of what this generation is going to create.