The interviews I’ve been conducting have indicated that young women who had a spiritual mentor during their teen or young adult years tended to retain their faith. We at by design felt that this was some actionable information that we wanted to share, so last fall we hosted an Organic Mentoring Conference. Dr. Sue Edwards, co-author of the book Organic Mentoring, shared her research and her wisdom regarding how to develop successful mentoring relationships with the next generation. (To read more about this event, please visit our blog!) In addition, we held a panel discussion with three millennials so that we could hear directly from this generation. During the next few months I’ll be covering some of the information that came out of those panel discussions, and each month I’ll share the millennials’ answers to one of the panel questions (as provided by Sue in her book).
The panelists range in age from 21 to 34. All are Bible-believing Christians who love God and are actively seeking Him in their daily lives.
Question: How is your generation different from your parents’ generation?
A: I think technology is the first really big difference. I mean, I texted my husband when my water broke. That’s not something my mom did. So that’s a big piece. Certainly as a result of technology we hear everything bad happening around us. I don’t know that there’s more bad happening or if we just know about it. So the safety piece feels different. Like not letting kids ride their bikes down to the convenience store like I did when I was a kid. That’s really different and the anxiety levels are so much more heightened. I think of my grandmother’s generation, when men were off at war and women were in a supportive role but you didn’t have people on all of these anti-anxiety meds and they were dealing with a lot of intense stress! I’m not saying that what we do isn’t stressful, but certainly there’s been a shift in how we solve that problem.
K: I thought about this question a lot, and obviously one of the impacts of technology is that we know things right away, right? Something happens, an earthquake in Haiti, we know right away. We know, and then we know who’s safe. If we have a friend in Haiti they can check in as safe. We know these things and our parents didn’t know those things right away. And so I think that one of the implications of that is that it’s harder for us to wait to learn something. And that applies a lot to growing spiritually because it’s hard to wait to learn things and it’s hard to really wrestle with things because we’re used to knowing things as soon as they happen and as soon as we want to know. “What is this?” You can Google it right away, you know? And so to really struggle with an issue and wrestle through different verses and passages to find an answer – “what does God really say about this?” – is a challenge for our mentality. I think another thing, and this is in relation to mentoring, I think that we’ve seen so many leaders fall from grace. We’ve seen pastors fall into sexual ruin, we’ve seen pastors fall into embezzlement scandals. If you think about the whole Catholic Church sexual scandal, all of those things, we’ve seen so many leaders and people in authority fall from grace and so when we talk about being real, it’s because we’ve seen people be fake for so long and we’re sick of it. Why would we respect people who are proclaiming this truth and then they’re hurting little boys? So I think that that’s a big struggle for millennials to learn to trust people who are coming to them with knowledge or wisdom. We want to say “well, how do I know that you are what you say you are?” because we’ve seen fakeness so much. So I think those are two areas where we’ve shifted the way we view people and the world around us.
B: I think a big thing that’s been very evident to me more recently is that the job market is very different than it was before. Before there were jobs for you to go out and get and if you had the right qualifications, if you got the right education and you knew what you were doing, maybe you knew a few people to get you in, you could get a job. There were jobs out there for you to get. And nowadays a lot of the time there just aren’t. And that isn’t necessarily anybody’s fault but the jobs just aren’t there. And I think that it’s really hard. As somebody who’s gone to college for 3 and a half years now, and who’s living with quite a bit of debt, to look at the job market and be like, “all right, how many tiny minimum wage jobs and babysitting gigs and nannying gigs can I pull together to pay my bills?” Just to pay for college. And that’s while staying at my parents’ house, living with them for a few years to try to get back on my feet. And I’m not even thinking about a job in my field. That’s not even like, “oh, well, I’m only looking at psychology jobs.” I’m just looking at jobs in general. Just A JOB that will hire me. For the past 4 years I’ve put in 22-25 applications each year, and didn’t get a single job for the summer. The jobs just aren’t there. But there’s a feeling [among the older generation] that we’re all lazy and we’re not really looking. So it’s kind of hard when it’s like “entry level job: you need five years’ experience” and I’m like “I’ve worked at Taco Bell for 3 years.” That’s not exactly the experience [they’re looking for]. The job market is very different and what we’re expected to know going into a job looks very different.
I hope that each month you feel enlightened and challenged by some of what our millennials had to share! If you have thoughts or questions, please feel free to email me.
I also want to let you know that we’re in the process of putting together the WeConnect Leadership Team, a team of millennials who love God and have a passion to share Him with their peers. Please be in prayer for us as we seek the women who God has in mind for this important ministry. Thank you!
Keep hoping. Keep praying. Keep loving.
Kristi, for WeConnect