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by Jim Young
Guaranteeing the Future by Developing Generations
And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died. And Seth lived an hundred and five years, and begat Enos: And Seth lived after he begat Enos eight hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters (Genesis 5:5-7 KJV).
Not the most inspiring stuff in Scripture, but the Old Testament is full of it.
And then, right up front in the New Testament, Matthew details generation after generation from David to Jesus.
Most of us just skip over these genealogical details. In today’s sound-bite, Amazon-speed world, we seldom take time to think beyond the short-term. Thinking in terms of “generations”—when we’re uncertain about next week—seems foolish. But the future of conservation, our hunting heritage, and the advancement of Gods kingdom, depend upon our adopting a generational view.
Defend Wildlife Breeding Habitat
Dust Bowl of the 1930s, conservationists have recognized the critical nature of breeding habitat. Too many sportsmen take a short-term view. “Just increase stocking and raise the limits,” they say. But repeated stocking doesn’t guarantee future populations sufficient to allow hunting. If we become dependent upon continuous stocking, the end of harvestable populations of wildlife is only as far away as the next round of government budget cuts.
Opportunities like preserve hunting and “put and take” streams fill an important niche in sporting opportunities today, but they do not ensure the future of game populations or public hunting and angling.
In order to secure the future of our fish and game, we must ensure sufficient habitat to support generations through natural reproduction at levels high enough to permit hunting and fishing. But game numbers alone won’t guarantee the future of our outdoor heritage.
We also need to increase the number of hunters and anglers.
Develop the Next Generation of Outdoorsmen
Trends in our society are producing fewer and fewer outdoorsmen. The high number of fatherless households, lack of access to public hunting and fishing opportunities, a pace of life that causes many to give up their outdoor pursuits, and so forth, have reduced the number of young people being introduced to hunting and angling. Even for those who may be introduced to outdoor pursuits, and enjoy them, the lack of access and other challenges often reduce participation.
As sportsmen, we can’t leave the future of consumptive use to those who manage our fish and wildlife resources. Increasingly, these groups are influenced by preservationists who reject the North American model of game management and would prefer wildlife be set aside and merely preserved instead of managed.
Just as future generations of fish and wildlife depend on the creation of healthy environments for reproduction, the future of hunters and anglers depends upon creating an environment where more hunters and anglers can be birthed. Can you point to a handful of people who hunt or fish (or at least support hunting and fishing) because of your influence?
Remember, presenting a desirable and positive example for those who don’t yet hunt or fish is critical to maintaining a public that is supportive of hunting and fishing, especially on public lands.
Disciple Other Christ Followers
Just as we need to intentionally preserve wildlife habitat and purposefully encourage the next generation of sportsmen and women, we also need to be intentional in developing generations of Christ followers.
Sadly, Christians too often ignore the need for discipleship, or delegate it to pastors and other Christian professionals.
Paul paints a very clear picture of generational discipleship in 2 Timothy 2:2:
2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others (NIV).
Paul, in this brief statement, reminds Timothy he has a great opportunity to impact multiple generations, by taking seriously his role of discipling those God has placed in his life and ministry.
How are you impacting the kingdom outside of your family? Serving other believers is good, but Scripture tells us that God intends that the gospel be spread into every corner of the earth. And His plan is that each of us, like Timothy, will pass on our faith to others. But not only pass it on! Rather, that we pass it on in a way that equips others to pass it on; therefore creating the next generation of believers who create future generations.
Studies have shown that the presence of at least one Christian adult other than a parent is one of the best predictors of a young person coming to and continuing to walk in faith. Will there be those believers, young and old, who can look back to you as one who influenced them to believe or grow in their faith?
Decide to Act
As Christian sportsmen, we must adopt a long-range, even eternal view of our actions.
- Are we supporting conservation in a way that ensures future generations of wildlife?
- Are we encouraging and helping others find their love for hunting and angling in a way that will guarantee future generations of hunters and anglers?
- Will there be an eternal series of generations of believers whose spiritual roots find themselves in your actions?
While the genealogies of Scripture may not be riveting to read, they’re extremely important to the history of Israel. And generations are just as important for us. I pray that we may have genealogies of our own one day, that we’ll be able to trace generations of devoted, God-honoring outdoorsmen because of the actions we take today.
TAKE AWAY: How to Ensure Reproduction
Are you impacting future generations of fish and wildlife? Of sportsmen and sportswomen? Of fruitful believers? Here are a few simple ways to leave a legacy.
· Whatever your hunting or angling passion, support quality conservation organizations that focus on long-term habitat protection and improvement.
· Support reasonable government regulations that encourage habitat protection while honoring the rights of private landowners. Small changes in federal or state legislation can impact more habitat in one year than most conservation organizations can impact in a decade.
· Support your state fish and game organization in programs that introduce youth and adults to hunting and angling. These organizations are much more than just the enforcers of game and fish regulations.
· Seek opportunities to be discipled by those who went before you. While our culture may worship youth, God gives wisdom to those who walk closely with him for many years. Seek the opportunity to receive the benefits of their learning and experience.
· Ask God to give you just one younger man or women you can pour your experience into. And don’t compartmentalize! Teaching a young man or woman to hunt or fish is a great way to be salt and light in their lives. Remember, Jesus revealed himself to Peter in a fishing boat and taught his disciples during a shore lunch. You can, too.