“The older generation doesn’t know how to be transparent!” he said. “We just want them to be honest and transparent. We don’t want to be ‘taught’ all the time!” I listened as my young friend expressed his opinion of the older generation. My feelings of frustration grew because an entire generation was being labeled. I wished there could be a context in which generations could come together and honestly get to know each other.
God has given me a huge burden and desire to confront this generational divide that is so prevalent. I hate that the enemy is using this division to discredit the name of Christ. We must address the division and learn to understand and appreciate those who come from a different generation than we do.
“Every few hundred years in Western history, there occurs a sharp transformation…within a few short decades, society rearranges itself—it’s worldview, its basic values, its social and political structures, its areas, its key institutions. Fifty years later, there is a new world. and the people born then cannot even imagine the world in which their grandparents lived and into which their own parents were born. We are living through such a transformations.” Peter F. Drucker -“Post Capitalist Society”
So how can we get to know each other? Where does it begin? Rather than hearing complaints, writing those complaints off, and mentally telling ourselves that “this is just the way I am“, let’s remember this verse:
“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:31
How do I want to be treated? I want to be understood — not labeled. I want those younger than me to attempt to get to know me for who I am, not for what they think I am in light of the generation I happen to come from. So, I have purposed to get to know them and how they see the world. I want to create a connection from my generation to their generation so that we can benefit from all we have to offer each other!
10 Ways To Connect With A Millennial
- Put yourself into settings where there are people who are younger than you and allow relationships to form naturally. Let them know, in word and in action, that you want to get to know them.
- Take time to show interest and to join them in their life journey. Don’t treat them like they are a project or someone you want to “teach”. Be a friend.
- Don’t focus on what you perceive to be their “negatives”. Don’t get caught up in generational slander.
- Don’t label them. Allow them to be the unique individuals they are. Remember that it’s okay if they think or do things differently than you do.
- Be flexible and remember that applications of scripture sometimes look different from person to person. Give them room to grow in their understanding.
- Be yourself, be willing to honestly share your life experiences, be appropriately transparent, and honestly share your own faith experience.
- Offer unconditional love. There may be some things in their (young) lives that need changing. Show grace, encourage and support them, and pray about when to offer instruction.
- God created us to live in community. Millennials put a high value on friendship, yet genuine connections are harder to make with today’s lifestyles. Even with all the benifits of technology, it can make daily life impersonal. Be available.
- Don’t be afraid of being imperfect; just be yourself and live out the reality of the gospel.
- Don’t be clueless about technology or fall in to the “Technology is evil” mentality. Technology is the way most younger people communicate and it will help you to connect with them. It is a wonderful way to keep up with each other when you’re unable to coordinate schedules, and it shows that you are interested in, can understand, and will enter into their world.
One of the greatest privileges given to the older generation is to declare the glory of God to the next generation. Our attitudes toward and interactions with them should be guided by our love for God and His people, so that – in turn – God can use our example to stir up this love within them as well.