Millennial Men: Dispelling the Myth of the Unreachable Generation

Millennial men

The belief that Millennial men are part of an unreachable generation is a myth.

In the 1980s, elephants overcrowded South Africa’s Kruger National Park, the government authorized killing adult elephants and relocating their offspring to other parks. As the orphaned male elephants became teenagers, they were clueless about what “normal” male behavior looked like.

When their testosterone levels spiked, the orphaned males turned aggressive. In one park they savagely killed 36 rhinos. A park ranger watched as a young bull knocked over a rhino, trampled it, then drove a tusk through its chest. The situation was out of control.

Then rangers brought six adult bull elephants into one park. They mentored the younger bulls so they could see what normal male behavior looked like. No more rhinos were killed once the mature bulls arrived.

The Unreachable Generation

It’s not easy to become a man. Many Millennial men today have grown up as “practical” orphans. They’ve been left to guess at what normal male behavior looks like. Everyone knows we have a “men problem.” Unfortunately, the problem is getting worse, not better. AndMillennial men especially are paying the price. Many are in chaos, and all are struggling to figure out how to do life.

Reaching Millennial men—especially the supposed unreachable generation of Millennials—is a hot topic. Much has been written about it. They grew up in a fundamentally different world than previous generations, never knowing a world without cellphones or the internet. It can sometimes seem as though there is a wall between generations that cannot be described or penetrated. But that’s a myth. For many, these young men are your children, co-workers, or neighbors—not aliens from another planet to be dissected and analyzed.

There is also a growing sense that young men can’t be reached because they don’t want to be reached, but do we really believe that Millennial men don’t have the same dreams and aspirations of other men at their age? Patrick Morley said it best, “Has there been a human nature ‘reboot’ in some secret corner of the cosmos? That’s ridiculous. We all want to love and be loved, to understand and be understood.

Unreachable Generation or Community of a Different Kind?

In 2017, over 42 million men engaged in fantasy sports games, and while some of these are middle-aged men, the average age is around 32. There are millions of young men spending time, energy, and passion on their fantasy teams.

Brett Clemmer was eating lunch with a 20-year-old college student in Jacksonville a few years ago while a Cowboys-Jaguars game was on. The young man cheered a little when the Cowboys scored. “You’re a Cowboys fan?” Brett asked. “No,” he replied. “I’m rooting for the Jags to win, but I’ve got Tony Romo on my fantasy team.” Brett says he inwardly rolled his eyes, because rooting for individual players over your favorite team was difficult for him to accept as a lifelong Patriots fan.

Similarly, there is a lot of ranting about “kids these days” living in their parents’ basement playing video games all day. Condescending blog posts, sermons, and podcasts have covered this scenario enough. But Brett had this to say:

I recently spent time with a young man who spends enough time playing Call of Duty that he is ranked in the top five in the world in Call of Duty Black Ops 2. I’ve known this young man for his whole life. I’ll call him Ian.

Ian is not some pasty-faced screen zombie with no life. He juggles being an honor student at school, playing violin in several orchestras, and catcher on his baseball team with this video game hobby–Black Ops 2 being only one of the games he likes to play.

Ian is my 13-year-old nephew. His mom ensures that his “screen time” is only available after homework and violin practice are done and doesn’t delay bedtime. Of course, that doesn’t keep him from getting up at 5:30 in the morning sometimes and slipping down to play. He told me that’s the best time to play with kids in Korea and Japan.

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Since 1986, Man in the Mirror has worked with more than 25,000 churches and millions of men. Man in the Mirror helps leaders provide a discipleship pathway for every man in their church. We do this with three interlocking strategies.