Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)
It seems like a constant message portrayed about Millennials is that they are lazy, disrespectful, and morally corrupt. Ever hear that? Every generation has had its highs and lows. Every generation has contributed to the next. Every generation is to blame and to praise for where we are as a nation today. Plus I would venture to say that most people who refer to Millennials are doing so incorrectly.
I am a high school teacher. If you’ve been following this blog for long you probably already knew that. I’m in my 13th year of teaching which means I’ve now seen kids from two generations which happen to be the two that followed after mine. Having parents and grandparents from two previous generations and being pretty well versed in US History, I feel like I have a fairly grounded knowledge about many of the generations in this nation. With that said let’s see how they stack up shall we?
- The Lost Generation (born 1890-1910)- They fought and won World War One and led the way through the progressive movement. On the other hand, they drove the nation through one of the worst moral declines with organized crime, underground criminal networks and loose and crude behaviors like the nation had not seen on a grand scale before.
- The Greatest Generation (born 1910-1930)- The name speaks pretty boldly and for good reason. It weathered the Great Depression and fought in World War Two. But it also saw a stark rise in racism and violence towards ethnic minorities exceeding that of previous generations. It created the battleground in large part that the next generation would fight on.
- The Baby Boomers (1945-1964)- By far the largest generation in US History, it fought vigorously for civil rights for both women and minorities. It also led a religious revival that the nation was desperate for and had been sparked by the previous generation. On the downside, the rebellious nature of this generation led to a counterculture steeped in drug use and moral deprivation.
- Gen X (1965-1985)- They were the products of their parents but they did try to right the ship. This generation brought a climactic end to the Cold War and sought to right a lot of the wrongs done by our nation. They’ve stepped up to fight the war on terrorism as well. They brought healing and unity to a nation divided and some of the highest levels of economic success in US History. However, this was the punk rock generation that saw a spike in gun violence and suicide rates. They also picked up the nasty habit of overspending and use of credit which skyrocketed personal debt in the US.
- Gen Y/Millennials (1986-1994)- This generation has created and innovated more than any generation before it. Technology and medical advancements are rapidly evolving and impacting our day to day life and much of that is thanks to this generation. They are also far more empathetic and compassionate as a whole than any previous generation. On the other hand, this group’s accepting nature has contributed to an immoral eruption in our nation that doesn’t seem to be slowing. It had moved further away from moral certainty and is embracing moral relativism, which had devastating effects.
- Gen Z (1995-2012)- This group is perhaps the most interconnected generation in history. They are still a little young to have a huge impact but they resemble baby boomers in a lot of ways. They are passionate and outspoken about injustice. They are incredibly bright as well. On the flip side, this young generation has inherited the problems of the technology revolution. The internet and social media are crippling our youth as much as it’s helping. And unlike any generation before them, they both love those who are different from them but also promote morally questionable behaviors.
Let’s face it, every generation has had its set of problems, mostly inherited by contributions, either directly or indirectly, of the previous generations. But God has always had a remnant in every generation, including the youth of today. That’s our hope for this country. Not the pros and cons of each new age group, but that fact that a small group of people, in every generation, is walking with God.
No generation is like the one before it. Thank God! That’s because no generation has ever been worth emulating. No generation has ever modeled, in whole, what it means to be upright and just. No generation has ever displayed the character of Christ like we’re meant to. No generation has loved sincerely and upheld truth and honor as we are called to by the one who made us. That’s because no generation is the goal of what it means to be a complete godly human being. The goal is Christ. The goal is to be changed into the full meaning of what it means to be made in the image of God.
My kids are part of the new generation, Gen Alpha. My hope is not that they will overcome the struggles of Gen Z or Gen Y, but that they will surrender their hearts to Jesus. Gen Alpha will screw things up just like every generation that ever came before them. They will also contribute great things to society, like every generation before them. But my hope is not that they will be counted among those who give to society, but that they will be people of great faith and of great love. My job as their dad is to lead them and model for them what it means to follow Jesus. That has been the role for every parent in this nation’s history. It’s when we don’t step into that role that we leave our next generation crippled.
What we need is fewer naysayers, quick to point out the faults of our youth. How is that going to call them into the life they’re supposed to lead. Criticism tares down. Truth and love build up. Anyone who wraps on the youth is all too quick to forget the faults of their own generation. We need to be a part of raising that God-fearing, love-driven, truth-centered remnant of the next generation and that starts in the home.
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…
Ephesians 4:15 (ESV)