The Myth and Reality of the “Me” Generation

The Millenials, written by a father and son, describes the nature and character of the millenial generation. The father is a Baby Boomer (Boomers are those who grew up in the 60s and 70s) and the other is his millenial son. For the sake of the discussion and according to the authors’ definition a “millennial” is a person born in between the years of 1980 and 2000. I would then be one of the oldest of the millenials.

The book surveys only those that were born between 1980 and 1991. This generation is the largest in American history, the most educated, the most diverse (ethnically) and the most technologically savvy. Should these characteristics make us optimistic or pessimistic about this generation?

This book was an insightful look into this large younger generation as they enter the workforce, influence elections and start raising their families. I was encouraged to read that the millenials have a very high view of marriage, family and relationships in general. The authors note that over 80% responded that they desire to have either one partner in marriage or not marry at all (This does not mean that their morals are faultless. They are marrying at the average age of 27 and are not necessarily committed to sexual fidelity before marriage).

The book describes them as generous, involved in their communities and ready to make a difference in their world. This desire to make an impact on the world is very different from the choices the Boomers made. They are not seeking change through rebellion, violence or political movements. The millenials want to change their communities by greater involvement and unity. They have forsaken the “American Dream” as their greatest ambition and have placed their focus on relationships instead. This is why they have been drawn so intensely to the latest and greatest in technology. It is mainly used for interaction with family and friends. Needless to say this is an encouraging insight. A large factor that has changed their ultimate priority is 9/11. They experienced loss at an early age and came to realize that life is uncertain and their pursuits need to reflect this.

Another interesting point that the authors made is that they are generally very respectful both to those of different nationalities and older generations. In fact they are not just tolerating their parents’ generation; instead they are looking for input and mentoring. I was encouraged by the observation that while they are confident they have the ability to change their world they do not believe that they can do it alone.

While there are many great attributes of the millenials, they are disinterested in church and government in general. In spite of this observation those of this generation, who admit that they know Christ as their Savior (based on specific doctrinal questions), are passionate about their walk with God and are seeking for an authentic relationship with God.

The generation as a whole is also still pursuing itself. It may seem nobler to pursue relationships over success and financial gain, but it is still a pursuit of self-fulfillment apart from God. The millenials like every other generation are seeking what they believe will ultimately fulfill them and they have sadly missed the one person that can truly fulfill that desire.

While some of their characteristics and attitudes are admirable they are still seeking self-fulfillment in things that will ultimately not satisfy their soul’s wants or needs. What a great opportunity for God’s people to reach an open-minded generation with the good news that only Christ satisfies.

The value of a book like this is not in determining that one generation is better than another. One of the most encouraging things about this generation is their desire to listen and learn from their elders. The value comes in recognizing the opportunity to minister to believers from this generation and understanding how to reach the lost among the millenials. I walked away with a greater understanding and determination to reach out to the lost of my generation.

They are looking for something greater than themselves to pursue and are open to hear from a believer that has found greater satisfaction in life through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Our lives must communicate that we know Christ and it is making a difference.