Over the next few weeks we’ll be producing a blog series titled “Building Bridges Across the Generational Divide.” As you read a variety of perspectives from women from different walks of life and different generations, we hope that you’ll feel encouraged and challenged to reach out with grace, understanding, and empathy to connect with those in a different generation.
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 Timothy 4:12
“‘Millennials’ has become a sort of snide shorthand in the pages of The Wall Street Journal.” Thus begins an update to WSJ’s style guide. The publication admits it’s too often painted millennials as a problem or a joke, oversimplifying “a group of people who are building major companies, altering the way we work and live and challenging long-held notions of family and society.”
It’s refreshing for me to read this, because while we’re far from perfect, I’m tired of the scapegoating spirit of so many conversations about millennials. The world today is full of discontent and upheaval and rapid change, so it’s easy to mistake millennials as the cause of it rather than as a group of young people right in the heart of this stormy social, political, and economic environment.
The negativity defies what I know from experience: My generation is full of talented, creative, and determined individuals who fiercely want to be valued and to do work that is truly valuable (even if we have to upend the status quo to do it).
On a personal level, strong cross-generational relationships look beyond the stereotypes of each generation (not just millennials) and value each other as individuals. Sure, I spend too much time on Instagram and I’ve perfected communicating via emojis, but if you stop there, you miss that I’m also a creative, strategic thinker who is patient and compassionate.
What millennials need is for people in and outside their generation to care about them, give them opportunities to be a meaningful part of projects and organizations (not just maintain the system), and offer empathy (rather than advice) as we find our way in this wild world.
Really, I don’t think we want or need anything that any person wouldn’t benefit from: compassion and the chance to make the world better.
Ponder: What stereotypes do I believe about those who are in a different generation than me? What can I do to actively change my perspective and see people without the film of preconceptions?
Prayer: Lord, help me see people the way that You do, and enable me to respond to them with Your grace, patience, and compassion.