Gentlemen, Millennials are Our Fault
Millennials don’t make much sense to me, especially millennial men. Many men of my generation perceive younger men as,
– entitled snowflakes demanding a raise after six months of showing up on time or,
– limp-wristed girly-men who can’t change a tire, even if they sport a beard or,
– unmotivated techo-geeks who still live at home with their mommies.
Too harsh? Perhaps. I understand that the elder generation normally perceives the junior as inferior. However, reports like this exacerbate the perception issue as millennial men are even generating a boon to the plastic surgery industry. The top reason given for pursuing surgery…to feel better about themselves (yikes!). The top surgeries pursued: rhinoplasty, otoplasty (pinning back the ears), and gynecomastia (reducing male breast size)—snickers to yourself please.
I was making fun of my millennial daughters the other day, a pastime of mine that offends my middle daughter incessantly. Discussing vehicles, I noted that a stick-shift was basically an anti-millennial theft device. I chuckled at my ingenuity though in all fairness, I had borrowed this slight from an internet meme when my oldest daughter, ever the insurgent, countered with, “Hey, it’s your fault. You never taught us how…”
In general, all young adults, mid-30’s and younger, are Millennials. Millennials encompass Generation Y, born in the 1980s and Generation Z, born in the 1990s. Sandwiched between the Millennials and the Baby Boomers is my generation, Generation X (obviously the most highly-motivated and squared-away of the group).
I like the urban dictionary definition for Millennial:
“A term used by insecure idiots to dismiss somebody aged 10-35.”
As my generation and older look with bewilderment at the direction of our nation and gaze with disdain upon our young men, it has occurred to me that these young men came from somewhere.
You must be taught how to work.
If you desire to work in America, work is available. I know a young man who has no higher education and no special training or skills. Over the three years we’ve known him, he has obtained upward of thirty jobs. No exaggeration. He cannot hold a job for more than a few months, but he always found work, often good work. Most recently, a large company paid him to learn and get certified as a pharmacy technician. He lost that job shortly after certification.
I have another friend that is the head of the local manpower division. A large company has recently begun construction in our town and intends to hire over 600 workers. He is struggling to find willing and able bodies.
Young men have abandoned the work force in record numbers and today, we see record low levels of work force participation from young, working-age men. Researchers struggle to explain their absence. Young men just aren’t working.
The ranks of the fatherless provide a clue to the source of the issue.
You must be taught to work. The foster system taught me this. Almost all young men we’ve had in our home would do what you asked, when asked, but that’s it. Nothing else. Initiative and the value of work was a foreign concept.
“Son, could you do X.”
“Sure thing, pops.”
I look away for two minutes and look back. The job may be complete but he is nowhere to be found, having split to avoid further tasking.
Many young men today see no issue with not working. Yet, who failed to impress upon them the soul-purifying righteousness of a good, hard day’s work?
You must be taught how to set goals.
The foster system likewise taught me this. A typical system kid literally sees the next five minutes of his life. The concept of thinking ahead, of planning, of setting out logical steps to accomplish an objective must be taught. These are not self-evident ideas. Another typical conversation I’ve had,
“Son, what do you want to do after high school?”
“I don’t know.”
“Nope, that’s wack.”
“I don’t know. I like to draw, maybe play basketball.”
Realize that, absent the stabilizing influence of an engaged father, the freedom of maneuver to plan, and the instruction to do so, a young man will likely not establish a comprehensive plan to achieve greatness. Most seem content to drift through life, arriving wherever the winds of fate would deliver them.
Again, where is the failure?
You must be taught to set goals and other things like toughness, mental and physical. You must be taught courage and gentleness and commitment—all traits of a good man—but most of all,
You must be taught godliness.
James tells us that all good things come from God. (James 1:17) All good things including the value of work and the traits of a righteous man originate with God. Absent God, we may obtain a certain level of morality or an ethical works-based “rightness”, but we’ll never obtain true righteousness of our own accord.
The real issue is that men of my generation and older abandoned the Church in droves leaving our sons with no compass, no foundation upon which to base all that they would come to believe. My generation continued the monumental de-churching of America. However, because we were raised in the Church, we still spoke the language. The common grace of the Gospel of Jesus Christ still permeated.
Many Millennials are largely second generation unchurched, fully immersed in the world, and absent even the vaguest knowledge of biblical concepts. We, their fathers, long ago walked from God in pursuit of worldly pleasures, maybe professional accomplishment. In doing so, we sacrificed our sons upon the altar of self. Is it any wonder that millennial men struggle in some areas? Is it any wonder that so many millennial men have forsaken God as much as they have forsaken work?
“Everyone gets a trophy,” we sneer at the slightest hint of weakness.
Yet, I ask, “Who handed them the trophy?” They didn’t go and buy it for themselves.
God has endowed all men with useful traits, including Millennials. They are open to new ideas, civic-minded, upbeat with a strong sense of community. They are relational, not nearly so career-focused as their fathers. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll make even better fathers without so harsh a task-master.
But, If we truly desire a reformation in the younger ranks then it must start with a reformation of the fathers, us. The call is the same as it is for any sin, “Repent.” Let us come together and do exactly that.
Author - Founder
Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).
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