Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Guest blog: Generation Me! (Part 1)

I'm thrilled to have Joey Antrim, our Community Relations pastor, guest blog for me this week. Joey makes me feel like I have a long way to go when it comes to road biking and, as you will discover from his posts, he processes big ideas really well. Show Joey some love by visiting his blog when you're done reading this 360 degrees of life.

I stumbled across this article in the faculty lounge of the college where I work. The article was about the book Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled—and More Miserable Than Ever Before. Generation Me “believes that the needs of the individual should come first. This is not the same thing as being selfish – it is captured, instead, in the phrases we so often hear: "Be yourself," "Believe in yourself," "You must love yourself before you can love someone else." ” This is the generation that has been told by their parents, teachers and leaders that they can achieve anything they want. So, if this is the case, why is this the same generation that experiences more depression, anxiety and unhappiness than any other? They are narcissistic and self-focused. Their parents go with them to job interviews and call prospective employers on their behalf. Deny them something and they throw a tantrum. I’ve seen it; it’s ugly watching a 20 or 30 something throw a tantrum threatening to call their mom because something didn’t work out their way. They have the idealism but lack the fortitude to do what it takes to achieve.

So, I got to thinking, how do we as the church address this idealistic generation that believes it can achieve anything and deserves everything? Luke 18 tells the story of a leader (often described as rich and young) who I believe embodies the Generation Me personality. He asks Jesus what he needs to do to inherit eternal life? The Me Generation believes it can achieve anything and deserves it; a sense of entitlement, if you will. This young man seems to have the same idea. He asks Jesus what he must do to receive his due allotment of eternal life. Jesus counters him by asking him if he knows all of the commandments. He boldly asserts that he has kept all of the commandments since his childhood. He was resting on his “good” laurels. This young man is confident in his “self”.

One of the problems with Generation Me is that if you ask them why they deserve something or are qualified for a position, they can’t answer it. They may have an MBA from the best schools but ask them how that degree and the skills derived from it apply and they can’t relate the two. The Young Ruler had achieved his goodness and thought that was enough to inherit eternal life. So, back to my question, how do we as the church address Generation Me that believes it can do anything? Let’s look at how Jesus dealt with this young man. Knowing that he was rich and “self” motivated, Jesus tells him that he must sell everything and give it to the poor and follow Him. The ruler walked away devastated. Why? Well, you’ll just have to come back tomorrow to find out won’t you?


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure it's just the younger generation who believes they're entitled to whatever they want. Looking after number 1 isn't an especially new idea. Perhaps the difference is that many in the younger generation haven't had to work for what they've got as their parents have been wealthier than ever before and have indulged their kids.

I'm kind of interested in why it is that on the surface this generation seems to have everything but actually are more likely to be unhappy. But maybe you'll answer that tomorrow, so I'll be back then!

Anonymous said...

Fearfullymade, responding to your last paragraph, my take is simple...."what does it profit a man if he gain the whole world but lose his soul?". Material possessions do not provide happiness, satisfaction or contentment for any great length of time. True happiness and satisfaction come from giving to others. We've probably all experienced the profound contentment at one time or another that comes form knowing that someone is truly grateful for something you gave, spiritual or temporal. It is the act of giving that invites the gratitude and consequently satisfaction. Depression and satisfaction are mutually exclusive. MENDEDBONES

Joey said...

Fearfullymade... Yes, selfishness goes all the way "back to the garden". Sociologists though have identified this new generation in this way and it certainly changes how we deal with that personality type. Thanks for the comment!