Engage Magazine: Breaking the Generational Mold
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Engage exists to provide perspective on culture through the eyes of a Biblical worldview, showing how that worldview intersects with culture and engages it.

We are a team of 20-somethings brought together by a common faith in Jesus Christ and employment in our parent organization American Family Association

Breaking the Generational Mold

Wesley Wildmon
Director of Outreach

Okay, Millennials, let’s be honest. We all love some good sarcasm, sometimes even at the expense of others. Who doesn’t like a good laugh, right? Unfortunately, we often use sarcasm that can make us seem arrogant. This is not a characteristic we want to be known for and, in all honesty, we probably do not realize how it is perceived.

Regardless, there are things we say and do every day that reinforces generalizations of our generation, many of which we do not think twice about. To better understand what we do, and how those things are perceived, I spoke with several people from different generations.  Here are a few takeaways I had from those conversations.

We need to stop referring to ourselves in the third person. For example: “We Millennials don’t like rules.” Or “Millennials like to express themselves.” After considering this from my conversations, it is like listening to a person talk about himself in the third person. “Wesley doesn’t like Brussels sprouts. Wesley loves trout, and even likes sauerkraut. But when Mommy isn’t looking, he throws the Brussel sprouts out.” Even though it is true, it sounds more like Dr. Seuss than a mature conversation. Let’s be more aware when we are talking to our peers not to generalize everything we like as individuals as if it is true for all Millennials.

Please, for goodness sakes do not say “the older generation.” I don’t know what I was thinking when I first said this. In one discussion with a friend just outside the Millennial generation, he told me, “I didn’t feel old until you said that.” Awkward? Yes, but more importantly, rude. Especially when I tossed every generation older than me into one lump. We have an opportunity to show respect by using the generational name that fits each such as Greatest Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, and Millennials.

We as a generation must see and acknowledge that we are not that impressive. We have our uniqueness but being unique is not the same as being superior, much less perfect. We tend to look down on other generations if they don’t know how to operate an iPhone, computer, remote control, or really anything technical. But some of us have no clue how to change the oil in our cars, run a tractor, or hold the antenna and your tongue just right to watch The Andy Griffith Show. Each generation has a responsibility to learn from the previous and teach the next. On a spiritual note, that is part of what discipleship is all about: teaching others what you have learned and passing it on from one generation to the next.

Don’t ask for Voss water when you are at an old country diner. I am referring to a scene in the movie Grown Ups where a spoiled young son asked for Voss water while at the country diner that his once, poor father grew up going to. The kid was spoiled. Not only did he not respect the people working hard in the diner, he also failed to respect their different style of life. We as a generation have been given a much better situation than those who experienced the Great Depression. Although many in other generations see the world differently, they are worthy of our respect. We can show that by small things such as not being shocked that they do not know the latest Android operating system, or they may enjoy something we consider outdated.

These are just a few things we need to stop saying as Millennials. If you have said these things or maybe something else you have said has been brought to your attention after reading this, you’re welcome. Through being more conscious when talking to the generations who have come before us, we are humbly recognizing there is much we can learn from them. If our previous words and attitudes warrant an apology, ask for it. If it’s just being more intentional about exercising humility, let’s do this together! Let’s be an example to the upcoming generation and, more importantly, do it to bring honor to Jesus. “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2).



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