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American institutions are adapting to the fact Baby boomers are retiring and being replaced by Gen Z (people born between 1994 to 2010). Recent headlines tracked this process in a very public institution: local government.
The replacement process is not a uniquely American affair. Across the pond, the Hull City Council’s e-newsletter (HullccNews) headline for December 6th was, “Hull’s New Young Mayor Is Selected.” Hull started the Young Mayor program three years ago to get, “young people involved in politics and helping to make the city a better place for all young people.” This year’s Young Mayor ran on a platform of “… improving transport for young people, raising awareness of the effects vaping has on your health and looking at the importance of mental health among young people.” The City Council hopes this year’s Young Mayor will inspire others of her generation to get involved in government.
The NBC News headline for December 7th invited America to, “Meet the 18-year-old Who Just Became the Youngest Black Mayor in the Country.” The new mayor for Earle, Arkansas is a recent graduate of its only high school. In the town of less than 2000 people, the mayor-elect garnered 218 votes to his opponent’s 139. NBC notes, “He’s not the only young man to win his seat as mayor of a city/town. At least two 18-year-old males have been instated as mayors in U.S history.” The mayor-elect intends, “…to focus on transportation, public safety and bringing a major grocery store to the city.” It is a vision many in Earle, Arkansas share, regardless of age.
On December 8th, the Culver City Observer had the headline, “With School Board Win, Triston Ezidore Becomes Youngest Elected Public Official in History of Los Angeles County.” Nineteen-year-old Ezidore is a recent graduate of the Culver City High School. The article notes, “The candidate racked-up masses of endorsements from organizations and elected officials…[including] advocacy groups, in addition to a number of labor unions, environmental organizations, and Democratic Clubs.” Mr. Ezidore believes his recent experience as a student gives him a keen insight into issues the school board needs to address.
Youth leadership featured in many Bible narratives. Samuel, King David, and Timothy were all youths when God called them. God’s instructions to Timothy are relevant for the leaders in this week’s headlines. Timothy was told, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Tim 4:12).” These guidelines are echoed in the second letter to Timothy, “Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Tim 2:22). These are good principles for bipartisan work no matter how many candles are on your birthday cake.
Baby Boomers still control local governments across the land, and Gen Z will have to wait to bring their agenda to fruition. However, these headlines bring another Scripture to mind, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (Zech 4:10).