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Are Millennials Selfish and Entitled?

One of the gripes I often hear is that Millennials tend to avoid taking counsel from their elders. This is seen as evidence of their self-obsession. I have seen some Millennials chafe when the only interaction they have from past generations is criticism of how they’re doing everything wrong. But I hardly see Millennials eschewing guidance from those older. As a matter of fact, I see them begging for such guidance.

When I taught preaching class at Southern Seminary I would go around the room the first day of class and ask students to tell me what preacher had the most influence on their own preaching. I was stunned when not one of these students mentioned someone he had actually known, choosing instead famous preachers they had heard on podcasts. I chalked this up to the next generation’s consumerism and individualism and celebrity focus. I was wrong.

When I talked to the students, I found that their reliance on these faraway voices was not because they had rejected flesh-and-blood mentoring but because they’d never found it, and didn’t know how to. As a matter of fact, the number-one question I get from Millennial Christians is how they can find mentors. We cannot refuse to put the hard work in of mentoring younger men and women, and then lambaste them because we don’t like the way they carry out their ministries. That’s not only counterproductive, it’s also, well, lazy, entitled and self-obsessed.

Is it a temptation for every generation to ignore the wisdom of the past, as Rehoboam did (1 Kings 12:8)? Certainly. But it’s also a perpetual temptation for older generations to react to the younger with envy, seeing in them a sign of coming irrelevance and mortality. It is much easier, like Saul, to throw spears at the next generation than it is, like Paul, to pour one’s life into the next generation.

Let’s stop the Millennial bashing, in public and in private. Let’s thank God that he has given us a vibrant, gospel-focused, Christ-following next generation. We can have lots of differing opinions on the finer details of eschatology, but, when it comes to the more immediate future, we should all be pro-Millennial.