Based on his extensive research, Dr. Tim Elmore, founder and president of Growing Leaders and an expert on the culture of emerging generations, wrote the following about Generation Y, the generation born after 1990:
- They are 40% less empathetic than earlier students.
- They are twice as likely to not finish high school.
- They are less altruistic and more self-absorbed.
- They are postponing adulthood—with 26 being the new 18.
These generational qualities make the task of discipling young people in the ways of God much more difficult. Another obstacle is that the environment is hostile towards educators who desire to pass on timeless principles of Scripture (sacrifice, humility, obedience, discipline). But all is not lost. This generation is also highly relational, very spiritual, desires authenticity, craves mentors, and is extremely pragmatic. When a trusting relationship is established, this generation will dive headfirst into learning.
What works today, and is more necessary than ever, is similar to what worked in biblical times. We need:
- educators and parents who listen and not just talk;
- students who humbly submit themselves to their teachers;
- educators/parents who embody what they are teaching;
- students who embrace transformation, not just information.
The greatest example of this sort of relationship is the relationship Jesus had with His disciples. Jesus provides a beautiful template for the teacher: always in the moment, using metaphors and stories, asking powerful questions, and caring enough to patiently listen to the real need being expressed. In my experience as a mentor and discipler of young people, I have found that simply being available, listening well, being transparent, and following Jesus’ example offers me a great opportunity to speak into the lives of young people. In turn, they challenge and inspire me!
**Mark Miller serves as Senior Vice President at Andrew Coaching and as a speaker and author, including the Book “Experiential Storytelling”. He has coached and mentored people from various backgrounds, from students to corporate executives, with the primary goal of helping them live a better story.
What do you see as keys to influencing and impacting the next generation?
Among the next generation, who has God placed in your life? Make a list.
What are some real challenges they are facing?
How can you connect with them this week?
What are some ways that you can encourage these young people?
Spend some time this week praying specifically for each one.