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What Does the Next Generation of American Leaders Think?

This recently published study looks at the attitudes and identities of young (average age 16) American leaders.  The group is labeled the Millennial generation and the surveyors believe they will be more influential than the GenX generation that preceded them as the Baby Boomers retire.  Putting the U.S. political interests of the survey aside I found the report of the survey to be interesting.

Here are some of the interesting statistics for me…

  • Communication: The mean number of texts sent in the 2009 survey was 39 messages per day.  The mean number of texts sent in the 2010 survey was 79 messages per day.
  • Influence: Parents are still number one in influencing the political view at (61% said parents had the greatest impact on the political views).  Among the survey pool, religious leaders were next to celebrities in their influence of political views of these youth (around 1% of those surveyed said religious leaders had the greatest impact on their political view).
  • Corporate World: Surveyed youths admired IT and Consumer Good companies far above any other corporate sector.  35.5% for IT/Communication/Computing Co. and 35.5% Consumer Good companies compared to the 5.1% who admired NGO/Non-profit.
  • Greatest Historic Leader: 35.8% said FDR
  • Top Challenges for the Future: 31.6% said Terrorism
  • To the question, “Do you envision a point in your life that terrorism will no longer be a threat?” 84% responded NO!!!!

You need to read the survey to understand that this is not a general survey of U.S. youth.  This is a select group of youth who are in leadership roles in their schools or communities and have decided to spend their free time engaging in political and public policy learning experiences.  So this group is assumed to be the potential political and public leaders of tomorrow.

With that in mind, I think we can find some connection points between these youth and those youth who are currently student leaders in our local churches.  Here is my humble interpretation of the information for student leaders…

  • Communication: Student leaders will implement unforeseen levels of technology into church life as access to technology becomes available to them.
  • Influence: Student leaders – like the rest of our students – are more influenced by family than pastor.  Yet another reason to expand youth ministry to family discipleship.
  • Corporate World: Student leaders will follow the money to IT and Consumer Good companies if they don’t get help discerning their callings in the local church.  This will perpetuate continued pursuit of higher education with no guarantees of employment since both of these sectors of business are often volatile in a soft economy.
  • War: The single greatest challenge that our students face is an imagination that is captivated by war.  The surveyors looked up to FDR who was a war time president.  And they believed terrorism is the greatest challenge but that it will always exist.  These are the comments of a generation of young leaders that has grown up with the imagination that war is a constant.  My fear is that if we don’t take the steps to foster a different imagination with our student leaders and their families then they will accept war as normative and not take up the Christian imperative to be peacemakers.

What are your thoughts on the survey?