A Link Between Millennials and Gen Xers

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link-between-millenials-genxers      I'm technically a millennial, (born between 1980 and 1999) although I've been told I'm not like my contemporaries. Most of my friends are at least in their mid-thirties, or older. Most of my co-workers (past and present) are in their 50s and 60s. I grew up with the millennial generation and I have tried to fit in with my age group for most of my life.  For those of us on the older end of the millennial range, we spent most of our teenage years in the 90's and early 2000's. To me, those years were defined by some key elements that shaped the way we lived and made decisions. Here are the top five cultural influences that I believed shaped my generation's teenage years.

 1.  TV shows – Friends and Seinfeld (stay single til you're 30 because it's better, and you can have friends with benefits until you find "the one.")
2. Music – Jay Z (can I get a "what what" (expletive) without giving you half of my dough)
3.  Social Media – AIM, Myspace, facebook, texting (relationship building online)
4.  Religion – The emergent church (postmodernism, anti-religious institutions)
5.  Feminism – women are entitled to the same or even more career options as men.

     Granted, I've watched those shows, listened to that music, and I'm woven deeply into the fabric of social media. These influences shaped much of my teenage experience.  But these experiences don't define me.  I am caught between two generations.  I'm half millennial, half Gen Xer. I guess that's why I'm a youth minister. Because I can relate to other millennials, but I can also sympythize with gen Xers.

     Let me explain. I took a detour when I graduated college.  My career took me to small town, Texas. I also got married, and settled down.  I worked in a small conservative church as a youth minister.  Although, I was a bit out of my element, I grew to appreciate my older influences. The more I spent around Gen Xers and baby boomers, the more they influenced my life.  Now, approaching 11 years since my college graudation, I've spent each year surrounded by mostly older generations. Although, I still stay in contact with my high school and college friends.

    My career in youth ministry has allowed me to continue to spend time with others my age and younger. Over time I've found that others my age in youth ministry struggle with some of the same things I do.  I get the sense that the boomers and the Gen Xers generally think the Millennials are self-absorbed not fit to lead the future of this country. I also get the sense that Millennials generally think that the older generations are disconnected and out of date.  My hope is that those of you Gen Xers will try to empathize with us Millennials. And I hope that us Millennials will try to learn from and be respectful of older generations.  I don't want to go into why these generations struggle to work together. But, I believe that humility from both sides is required for us to have intergenerational relationships.

I challenge you to do what you can to build relationships with friends outside of your generation. Humbly listen to what they have to say. Honor them, whether you agree or disagree. Invest time in them and don't look down on them.  I will do my best to continue to help generations link together. Feel free to post ways you've been successful in building those types of relationships. One of my favorite speakers and church leaders, Andy Stanley, recently preached a sermon to the older generations, in relationship to the younger generations. It's worth 2 minutes of your time. 

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Ben is the youth minister husband of @gingercasa1 and father of three awesome boys, ages 10, 8, and 5! He loves sports, music, and ministry and hanging out with his family.

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