I’m excited to have this be our first guest writer post. I’m even more excited that it happens to be my mother. Both Matt and myself have a desire to incorporate perspectives from both ends of a generational spectrum into the blog, and what better way to start than have some who has raised four of her own. Hope you all enjoy.
I am not a millennial, but I have experience with them. I birthed four of them. I read an occasional article about millennials and have a couple of real frustrations with them. First is the criticism heaped on this generation for characteristics that were developed by those in older generations—the ones writing the blogs complaining about them! The other is the blanket categorization of all millennials being “this way.” Setting these soapboxes aside however, let me share a little on what I have learned from living with millennials.
Listen. James implores us to be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath—basically to hurry up and listen. One of the hardest thing for parents or anyone working with kids is really listening. We too quickly assume we understand the issue and want to jump in with the answer, solution, or critique. I am learning to just shut up and listen. It’s amazing the conversations that open up when you do this … and for some reason around my house the golden hour for these conversations seem to be 11 p.m. I have also learned not to push my agenda. There have been times that I’ve really wanted to address an issue on my mind, but I know if I just dive in with it, it will probably not be received well. So I pray for God’s wisdom in the timing to broach a subject and amazingly enough, as I listen during a conversation, the door opens wide, and my concerns and opinions are voiced. The other struggle is to shut up once it’s out there. Still struggle with that one, but we’re working it. Overall, I’ve found that if I listen, I am listened to.
Think. As I listen to the ideas, frustrations, and hopes, there are many times I’ve had to just sit back and think about what they are saying. I am very fortunate that in my experience, we are all looking at life from a Biblical worldview. As ideas are shared, there is always a scriptural basis for the thinking and an overall agreement that Scripture is truth. I believe one of the hardest realizations for my generation is that many of us have lived our lives according to Biblically-based traditions ingrained in us as Biblical truth. Our children’s “why?” or “the Bible doesn’t say …,” posed inquisitively not rebelliously, has caused me to think through a lot of things. It’s hard to admit that for one’s whole life you felt that a certain wardrobe choice, entertainment choice, music choice was sin when according to God’s Word, that prohibition is actually a person’s or movement’s interpretation and application of a scriptural principle. Clearly, as issues come up with anyone of any age group that question something clearly defined in the Bible—lying, killing, adultery/immorality—Biblical truth rules firmly and clearly; however, I believe too much of the generational and church-body conflicts stem from traditions and personal preferences being raise to the level of Scripture and being held too tightly. There is the danger for millennials to move forward with a spirit of arrogance, sort of a “Ha! I CAN do this!” and for the older generation to judge them as unspiritual or rebellious. Balance is very important. We are commanded to love one another, server one another, defer to one another, and we must remember that “one another” goes two ways. Paul addresses this in several epistles—all things are lawful, but all things are not expedient. Discernment. This is where we, the older generations can assist. Rather than judging the youngers as just wanting an excuse to “sin,” take a step back, acknowledge their interpretation and application of the Biblical principle, and have a dialogue. Share why you have concerns about that viewpoint; however, if it is not a violation of sound Biblical truth, agree to respect each other’s positions—mutual respect—and move on serving God together as two parts of the body of Christ, because if both parties are saved by the grace of God through the finished work of Jesus Christ, that’s what you are, whether you sit in church with a coat and tie or blue jeans!
Pray. In every epistle Paul wrote, he expresses he is praying for believers near and far. Perhaps if we’re praying for one another rather than criticizing, our love and unity would grow a bit faster.
“… we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Colossians 1:9-10
I am richly blessed in my relationships with the millennials in my life. God has recently moved me into a position where I will have interaction regularly with more of this age group. I have no idea what the background or baseline of thought and discernment is for some of these young people, but my desire is that I can listen to them, think about their views and ideas, talk with them and pray for them in a way that will benefit each of us in our walk with Christ and our journey to be more like Jesus.