by Richard Mansel, assistant editor
We can label the present generation of young people in our society as the “Most Difficult Generation.” No other generation in our nation’s history has faced more challenges in growing up. Technological advances are presenting very difficult odds as they seek to remain faithful to God. We have an enormous task in helping them accomplish this goal.
Generation Y refers to those born in the years 1980-1994, while Generation Z is following them. /1 The lessons we learn with Y will help with the understanding and reaching out to Z.
On the other hand, we can continue on the present path and let them sink or swim. However, that would be spiritual malpractice and reminiscent of how Israel found itself reaching the point described in Judges 2:10.
These young people face the familiar challenges of peer pressure and alienation but they are more powerful today. Our generations did not have social networking sites, camera phones, texting and other tools to make things more complicated. They face more temptations and problems than we ever imagined in our day.
Those who are not tech savvy may be naive to the enormity of these challenges. However, we must not allow our ignorance to facilitate the destruction of our young people.
Bullying, religious persecutions and sexual pressures are challenges that dwarf those of preceding generations. If we couple these with the affluence and mobility of our age, we have the ingredients for an explosive situation.
These young people often coexist in their parent’s universe and in a much different world than their parents and they hope these two worlds will remain separate. In other words, their home/church persona differs greatly from their school/online persona.
Young people can have one moment of indiscretion and it will be caught on camera and be on the phones of everyone in school in moments and on the internet forever. Future careers and relationships can be tainted by their immature behavior./2
Young women face very limited options in finding modest clothes and everywhere they look, they see gross immodesty among their peers, family members and role models./3
Sadly, all of these struggles come at a time when the teenager’s decision-making skills are yet to be fully developed. They want acceptance so desperately from their peers, but the price is often too high. Sadly, few survive these challenges.
Spiritually, this generation is saturated with relativism. Absolute truth is nowhere to be found and all decisions are freely subject to situational ethics. /4 These mindsets are completely opposed to God’s will (Psalm 119:89; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; John 17:17; John 8:32; Ephesians 4:14). God’s truth is neither negotiable nor situational and we must do all that we can to illustrate this truth.
We must help these young people find the self-esteem, love and fulfillment, so they will not be so desperate in pursuing it elsewhere. The divorce of their parents have devastated their hearts and souls. Drop-offs and gifts have replaced love and affection. We must give their lives focus and purpose and allow them to grow up as safe as we can without further breaking their spirits.
In desperate times, the temptation exists to lock them away to keep them from everything that might endanger them. We all want them to remain safe but they will live in this world long after our demise and they must learn how to handle it, within defined limits. Often, locking them away can create in them a hunger that will consume them. We must find the proper balance.
We will examine some guidelines in allowing them freedom and restraint in future articles.