A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and two are united into one. Genesis 2:24
A recent meeting with millennial has prompted me to think about this topic. He is 29 and has worked for the disaster relief team for Samaritan’s Purse. As a consequence, his life has been a little unpredictable. He gets assignments when disasters occur. Obviously, no one can schedule a disaster, so he was on call, waiting to be deployed.
We started meeting almost two years ago. I’m not even sure how we got introduced. He was living in Raleigh on his own and trying to figure out his career path. He admitted he was having a hard time making hard decisions. He is a typical millennial in his desire to have a career that makes an impact and is fulfilling .
Fast forward to last week when we got together in Raleigh. It was a great time together. He was back to square one on his career quest but had made big advancements in other areas. He signed a lease for an apartment, and said it was hard to make that kind of long-term commitment.
He has started dating a girl – something neither he nor she had done before. It’s an exciting time in his life. He is still searching for that perfect job that he can commit to. I look forward to joining him on that journey.
My mentee’s plight is typical for millennials who characteristically have difficulty making life decisions. Some of it is a fear of failure or making the wrong choice. Just having so many options almost paralyzes them which is one of the reasons that they have such an extended adolescence, sometimes into their early 30’s.
One of the marks of adulthood is forming a committed relationship. Another mark is finding work, which involves a commitment. Signing a lease is a commitment, too. It takes some amount of courage to say to a landlord that I want to rent my apartment and I am willing to be financially responsible for the rent.
Kelly Williams Brown, the author of Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 535 Easy(ish) Steps, wrote this about millennials becoming an adult: “All of a sudden you’re out in the world and you have this insane array of options but you don’t know which you should take.”
As I have written before, the transition from adolescent to adult has been blurred in recent years. It is no longer just determined by age. Maturity is marked by a number of factors which are helpful to know when interacting with millennials.
As I reflected on my conversations with millennials, I wonder whether the inability to make a long-term commitment is a factor in the declining marriage rate. Over half of all couples are living together before they get married. Of course, that is assuming they do get married.
It makes one wonder what level of commitment it takes to form a strong marriage. I have lots of thoughts on that topic since this month I will celebrate my 52ndanniversary. Over time, the marriage vows have been culturally dumbed down. It is now often considered a “tradition” or a statement of good intentions.
As Tony Dungy suggests, to many people it means “We’ll try this relationship out. As long as my spouse is doing what I expect, as long as he or she is fulfilling my needs, then I’ll show love and respect. But if not, I’ll move on.”
Marriage is a long-term commitment. Finding a job, signing a lease or playing a team sport is more temporal. Those obligations have finite limits.
While commitment is important in temporary relationships, it is even more so in marriage. When you take a vow “for better or for worse” you need to understand that the “better” might come after the “worse”.
In financial or career commitments, life happens in sometimes unpredictable ways. What you thought you were committing to may not turn out the way you thought it would.
Uncertainty may be a stumbling block for millennials. As Kevin DeYoung recommends, sometimes it’s best to get off the sidelines and Just Do Something.
The challenge is that my mentee is not the only millennial challenged in making long-term decisions. Many face making life decisions or career choices and they are often reluctant to make a commitment. It may be fear of the unknown, but a mentor can be beneficial in the decision process.
MENTOR TAKEAWAY: Providing input and being a sounding board for the next generation as they transition into adulthood. It may be one of the most important contributions you can make to your mentee.
WORSHIP: Listen to Chris Tomlin sing Take My Life (and Let it Be) reminding us that God is in control if we permit Him.
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