I’ve been getting a ton of questions as it pertains to the Millenial generation recently. Mainly the questions boil down to: “Marv, in your opinion, what do you think Millenials need most from us, the older guys?”
I answer pretty quickly with the word MENTORSHIP. Some might argue it’s friendship, relationship or something else, but mentorship encapsulates those and then some. However, I think the older and the younger generation miss this because of what I call the Gilmore Girl Effect.
In this show, the mom and the teen daughter were best friends! They laughed together shared the authentic deep truths of each others lives and had an amazing relationship because of it. However, Rory (the teen girl) never actually had any mentorship. She only had the friendship of her mother and the modeling from her mom to guide her. Due to this lack of mentorship and true teaching relationship, Rory continuously finds herself in the same sticky relational messes her mom does. She finds herself in similar sexual predicaments, similar break up predicaments and so on. The “fun” of the show is to see how these two commiserate together and to see how, often Rory ends up parenting and mentoring her mom more than the other way around.
This type of relationship was simply not enough, even though the show could spin it as if it were. This is, where we find many young people today. Many millenials grew up with “friends” as parents, teachers, youth pastors and coaches, because many adults thought that was what they needed. The adults in their lives were able to “know everything” about their kids and feel justified in this friendship and say things like: “My kids don’t hide things from me! But I bet yours do!”
This generation need more than friends in their parents and other adults in their life, they need mentors, teachers and older adults willing to hold a hard line and be the “enemy” if need be. Whether many millenials admit to it or not, they need mentorship. When I was in high school, I was a pretty bright student, I was charismatic and knowledgable but I was also an arrogant mess of a person struggling to keep all my stuff hidden. Many people in my life didn’t challenge me on my arrogance, nor did they show me where I was a mess. They were simply glad that I was a “good kid” and let me skate by. Here, I’m not talking about my parents, but people who were people I considered mentors. It wasn’t until college that people decided to take the mentoring seriously and to the next level. These men in my life called me out and didn’t try and be my best friend but took an active mentoring role in my life.
I’ve never been the same because of those men deciding to mentor me and I am convinced that this is what is needed from the church when it comes to the Millenial generation…loving mentorship. These men didn’t mentor out of a hobby horse either, pushing their agendas or coming against my Millenial views on certain things. They simply loved me enough to point out my personal inconsistencies and walked with me as God helped me work those things out. They shared honestly where they failed and encouraged me to side-step their mistakes. They shared their deep faith with me. They talked about their marriages and the goods and the bads. These men poured into me and invested greatly into who I am.
The church can no longer afford fear or the Gilmore Girl Effect to hinder it’s ability to mentor this coming generation. We, the millenials care deeply about the older generation and we desperately desire to learn from you. Mentor us with authenticity and in love and just see what amazing things happen as we grow together!