Millennials are the devil

on May 23 | in Blog, Books, Leadership, Living, Theology | by | with 23 Comments

If you believe everything you read, the current generation of young adults are pretty much useless. The millennial generation comprises roughly those between 18-30 currently (Strauss and Howe stretch it to 10-32). Among evangelicals are those who never miss an opportunity to blame others for societies ills. Millennials have been in their sights as of late.

Millennials are leaving the church because they are narcissistic.

Oh wait. They are not leaving after all.

Aaron Earls responds positively with 6 reasons millennials aren’t at your church, and 7 ways to draw millennials to your church.

To read some you would think millennials are responsible for the downfall of morality in America, the reason gay marriage attitudes are changing, will not get a job, do not support Israel, and on and on. They are accused of accommodating a “false ‘gospel of nice’.”

In his otherwise helpful book, What’s Best Next, author Matt Perman casts this unneeded aspersion, “Many are still…trying to figure it out as they go. That can work, but it’s a tough road. Others are blowing it altogether. Too many Christians in their twenties are living in their parents’ basements playing video games.” Yeah, and too many authors are unnecessarily critical. Where’s the editor when needed?

As the father of three millennials the subject concerns me. Broad brushing is too easy, and too lazy. Rather like complaining that all these young seminary grads do is sit around all day talking soteriology, combing their beards, smoking cigars and drinking while their wives watch the kids and clean up. Anyone can play the game. Both sides lose.

Perhaps someone can point me to a sociology study on how world bending events like 9/11 and the global recession might play into millennial thinking and experiences. There may be some truth in millennial caricatures, but what if underlying causes make the caricatures as shallow and silly as the millennials being criticized?

Does it matter there are an estimated 290 million people ages 15-24 who are not employed or enrolled in an educational program? That these same millennials are the demographic three times as likely to be unemployed as adults, according to the International Labor Organization? That 40 percent of the world’s unemployed are under the age of 25?

To a fair number, it will not matter. It is easier to criticize than understand.

Chris Martin works with me. Not this Chris Martin; this Chris Martin. He’s a sharp strategist and leader who excels in most everything he does. He’s also a millennial. I asked Chris to address the seeming incessant barrage of criticism aimed at his generation.

“Boys who can shave.” It’s a phrase that is all the rage among some in the Reformed theological movement. Popularized by Seattle pastor, Mark Driscoll, the phrase describes a young man in his early 20s (around the age of a college graduate) who hasn’t reached a place of financial independence from his parents.

Too often, all of these young men—of whom I am one—are lumped together. Why is it assumed that if I live with my parents and enjoy video games that I am a boy who just can’t seem to grow up? What if I also have a job and $30,000 in student loans and can’t afford an apartment quite yet, or choose not to add the additional expense? None of that really seems to matter if I’m living with my parents or I like to play some Madden here and there.

This issue hits close to home with me. I graduated college in January of 2013 and have a number of friends who live with their parents. These friends of mine certainly are not bums.

One of my 24-year-old friends lives with his parents. He also likes to play video games. He does not have a girlfriend. But, he does have a full time job that aligns with his degree and a significant amount of student loan debt.

Is this guy a boy?

No! He’s a poor 20-something that needs a little bit of help from mom and dad until he can start making ends meet!

Why is this shameful?

Why do we open our gracious arms to liars and gossips but point our accusatory fingers at guys who need financial support from their parents?

The Problem

The Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, an organization with which I often agree, recently published a blog post. In it, the author, Jeff Medders, writes about men with what he terms, “Peter Pan Syndrome”:

They are men biologically but boys theologically and practically. They graduate from high school, kite around for a few years, wish they had a girlfriend, wish they had a job, wish they had a wife, wish they didn’t eat dinner with mommy every night—but do nothing about it.

He writes later:

Stop waiting for your dream job and learn to make a latte. Don’t let those britches that mama bought you get too big to flip burgers, collect shopping carts, sell shoes, or stack lumber while you are waiting for the job you really want.

Mr. Medders doesn’t get it. He tried to address the problem of a 20-something living with his parents by telling him to make a latte. If Mr. Medders thinks a barista is paying their own rent and utilities by making lattes, he’s going to the wrong coffee shops.

My friends in the Reformed community—a community built around the doctines of grace—are often the first to call out these “boys who can shave.” It seems as though grace can be shown to the chief of sinners but not the guy who “eats dinner with mommy.”

Are there a lot of men today who simply cannot seem to grow up? Sure. But this does not give those men who have it all figured out the right to make fun of them.

Making fun of men who live with their parents is no more mature than living with one’s parents.

We need a major tone-shift when it comes to addressing men who are not supporting themselves as early as they ought.

The Solution

Real men love.

Stop calling out everyone who lives with their parents like they spend their days playing World of Warcraft and chugging Mountain Dew. A lot of them are legitimately working hard to make ends meet.

Independent, successful, older men need to stop picking on college graduates who live with their parents by calling them adolescents and “boys who can shave.” Why not start praying for them as brothers in Christ?

It’s about time older men stop demeaning these younger guys and start discipling them.

What if older men stopped making guys who lived with their parents the butt of our jokes and started making them the object of encouragement?

Real men who make fun of perceived under-achieving guys in the name of “maturity” don’t have the slightest clue of what maturity really is.

Real men don’t make fun of guys simply because they live with their parents.

Real men come alongside them and love them.

Get over yourselves and start loving these guys. That’s what real men do.

Millennials are not the devil. They are a generation little different than any before them. Perhaps a little less analysis and a little more encouragement are in order.

Thoughts?

  • http://kevinsanders.org/ Kevin Sanders

    Great article, Marty. I’m fine with challenging young men but there’s a point at which it is condescending and not the least bit helpful. I remember similar things being said about my generation (“Generation X”).

    • Frank B

      And before that, us Boomers.

  • Rob Reardon

    On point! Let’s stop lumping all millennials into the same category and start actively and intentionally mentoring and discipling them!

  • Brian Gass

    They can handle it; just as we did. Most of them just need to join the military. ;-)

  • Dan Borsos

    It is hilarious that most of the hand-wringing about Millennials is being done by aging baby boomers (full disclosure: I am one), the most self-centered, selfish, wasteful, financially unwise generation in recent memory. Remember the Me Generation? Many of the financial travails of the Millennials spring directly from the Boomers poor financial habits. Many of the “problems with relationships” of many Millennials that I know spring directly from them not wanting repeat their parents divorces.

    • martyduren

      Well said, Dan.

    • http://johnmarkharris.net/ John Mark Harris

      Well, they are boomer’s kids, so their problems will be compounded. Not only will they have the same sins, but they don’t even know what the sins are from total lack of examples… Just look at this guy in the article “yea, I’m in debt, live at home, no prospects for marriage… But that’s cool, right?” No, it’s not.

  • Chris Burton

    It’s the stick or the carrot. I agree with your assessment and that of your friend. Rather than disparage them, disciple them.

  • Steve

    It starts in the home. Without Christian parenting discipline is unknown. God sets the example for us in that He disciplines those He loves. Sure we should disciple those who will believe God, but the reality of our existential culture is rejection of a greater authority. Read Isaiah 3 and you will better understand what is happening today.

  • Mark

    The poor economy and high cost of living everywhere wreaked havoc on career plans and job opportunities. That is not the fault of the young. Talk to the older group about not automatically rejecting the young from getting jobs because they don’t have experience. How is one supposed to be 24 with 20 years of experience? It is not possible. When the young are continually beaten down how are they ever going to rise up? They are told to “man up” but are never given opportunities to do so. No organization wants them because they can’t donate and have different opinions. Recipe for rioting if you ask me.

    • http://johnmarkharris.net/ John Mark Harris

      We keep raising minimum wage so businesses can’t afford no experience people, and Boomers have taught Millennials that they can have it all and have it now so if you can’t get a $30,000 job right out of school (and you MUST go to college) then don’t settle, you can stay home and have mommy keep doing your laundry. Sad. That’s not manhood.

      • Mark

        Living at home post college is different than reverting to childhood.

        • http://johnmarkharris.net/ John Mark Harris

          So also is it different than adulthood.

          It’s not reverting to childhood, it is continuing it.

  • Chris Amos

    Well said

  • Russ

    The Peter Pan boys at some point have to grow up. The problem is a lack is discipline. I am a boomer. Just lying around the house was not an option!
    Laziness is inherent in humanity.
    Peter Pan is upstairs right now asleep.
    Mommy loves her precious and he’s trying!

    • http://johnmarkharris.net/ John Mark Harris

      If a man-boy lives at home that’s one thing, but he should have to be the first one up, clean the house, mow the yard, do the shopping, cook, wash the cars… Or be on the job search or working flipping burgers between interviews.

  • Lori Metevia

    There needs to be more mentoring. This younger generation has been bombarded with bad information. Church folks tend not to know the bible themselves and are in no shape to mentor. We need to change this.

  • Lori Metevia

    What is interesting about the current generation is that they have been trained in backwards thinking. When I was talking to a group of older people at a bible study, I said, “you were the last generation that grew up knowing the truth. All other generations after you grew up in a sea of lies. I discover the truth about 10 years ago. Unfortunately, many of my generation and the next failed to see through these lies and have gotten lost. We need your wisdom and your prayer to set us in the right direction.”

  • http://johnmarkharris.net/ John Mark Harris

    Ok, I agree 100% that there is an overblown negative slant to millennial research these days, but I do disagree with the millennial defending his lifestyle.

    Yes, though not the end of civilization as we know it, a young man who still lives with mommy and daddy should be shameful. Perhaps not hugely shameful, but he is not self sufficient, and thus has failed at what he should have been shooting for. This is not the end of the world, every man fails, many times, in life, it’s how we grow. But a man who “wants it now” so he gets strapped with debt he can’t afford by rushing into school too quickly or a school too expensive to arrest his development in a time that should be a transition into manhood. A man is a man when he can stand on his own and protect and provide for others. To be 30 and not yet able to do this is disgraceful but not unrecoverable. It is lazy or poor planning or a lack of understanding of what it means to be a man. 1Tim 5:8 – a mooch is not a man, grow up

    • martyduren

      Interesting use of 1 Tim 5:8. It seems out of context to me.

  • http://johnmarkharris.net/ John Mark Harris

    There is great value in getting thrown in the deep end of a crummy little apartment and the only way out is to work more, find a better job, and save your money. If YOU can’t pay for school, don’t go until you hit a ceiling

    • martyduren

      JM-
      You’ve spent a fair amount of time here castigating Millennials. Can you point me to the passages that have so convinced you what manhood is and isn’t? So far I see one stretched scripture and a lot of opinion. Thx.

  • samorris8

    Maybe the can help us pay our student loans back too while the pray?

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