Who Live and Love Like Jesus
Hello again! Pastor Tanks here introducing a new blog series, “Embrace us so we can Embrace Ourselves! The “us” in the title refers to millennials (Generation Y) and the call to “embrace” is a cry to understand and speak well of millennials, so that (we) millennials can understand and speak well of ourselves. This series will stretch over several posts as I seek to explain the dangers of the current negative mindset of millennials, and how to encourage a new mindset that promotes unity and self-worth.
Imagine a young boy growing up hearing that he acts and looks just like his daddy. For me, being raised by my father, (shout out to Leonard Tanks Sr.) is something that makes me proud. However, imagine being that little boy. Raised by a mom whom he loves but mommy hates daddy and says he is no good. How proud do you think the little boy will be of the label “you look and act like your daddy”? If the boy continues to hear how he is just like his “no good” father, that little boy will eventually shrug his shoulders, embrace the negativity and begin to act in a negative way. The purpose of the illustration is to demonstrate that no one wants to identify with someone or something that is perceived to be negative. It also shows that people will adopt the negativity that is pushed on them by others and will impact their character.
The Bible tells us to take captive every thought, (in part), because if we don’t negative thoughts can show up as negative actions. Millennials have been a disrespected, and degraded generation, (possibly a bias here). It’s so bad, that two of my co-workers who are also millennials told me that they hated that term. When I asked them why they told me that people primarily use the term to share negative experiences. Discussing it with my wife, she also said the same thing. It appears that millennials, resist the label due to the negative behaviors it attaches to the generation. As I research the issue, I found articles dating back as far as 2007 where millennials were being called lazy, and self-absorbed, along with a list of other negative things.
During my research, I came across a Pew Study titled “Most Millennials Resist the ‘Millennial’ Label. (http://www.people-press.org/2015/09/03/most-millennials-resist-the-millennial-label/) The study found that only 40% of millennials identify with being a part of the millennial generation. This level of identification is low compared to nearly 60% of Generation X population, and 70% of the Boomer population. The study also showed that 33% of millennials who are 30 and over, prefer to identify themselves with Generation X, since they are closer in age to them than their true generational category.
60% of the largest generational population resist the label “millennial and 33% would rather identify with a generation that is not theirs.
Why? It goes back to the illustration of the mom and the boy—No one wants to be a part of something that is perceived negatively. Interestingly the research also showed that Millennials stood out in their willingness to ascribe negative stereotypes to their own generation. They used descriptions like self-absorbed, wasteful, and greedy. In other words, all the negative things said in their polls, were also said by millennials (view the surveys at the link above). I couldn’t believe it! Not only have older generations been speaking negatively about us, but we say the same things. Is it because the data is factual? Sure, some of it is correct of some individuals, but not the whole generation.
Millennials speaking poorly of themselves demonstrates the second point of my illustration. People tend to internalize negativity that others attribute to them. Internalizing attributed negativity is a problem for millennials because it can cause us to miss the uniqueness and goodness that we have to offer to the world. We make up the largest part of the population, and if we fail to embrace our gifts, both society, and the Church are in trouble. I can’t speak for the world, but to the Church, we must address the needs of this generation. The Church must restore purpose, self-esteem and positive reinforcement to millennials, who are the future of the Church and more importantly a people group, created in the image and likeness of God. The Bible says that our words can speak life or death, can build up or destroy, and then it tells us to speak life. Focusing on the good builds up and edifies which is one of the reasons, according to the Bible that we are to gather in community.
We must begin to restore the hope of this generation by pointing out their good.
How do you change the negative view of millennials? I think the answer is education; either educating yourself from reading, or from the best form of education, intimate relationships with Millennial men or women. As you develop relationships with millennials, you’ll discover that for every negative assessment, there is a motivation, a reason for our behavior that isn’t negative. For example, Forbes says that millennials aren’t lazy but, rather, driven by meaning and so we won’t work just any job for money, but we are seeking meaning in life and career. That is very different from being lazy! It is interesting to me that when I do research and compare thoughts on millennials, the thoughts differ in Pew studies and studies by groups that deal closely with millennials. Why? Because relationships give you insight into motivation, and that insight changes how we access and respond to behavior. Developing relationship is what Jesus did, and it gave him compassion for us.
Over the next few months, I will attempt to shed light on the negative views of millennials and help people change their negative views of millennials. Would you travel with me as I help you to embrace us, so that we can embrace ourselves, making the future of the world and Church brighter?