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.

COMMENT:  I would be delighted at comments on this or any other post. You can comment by clicking on the icon at the top of the page or emailing me at otterpater@nc.rr.comSUBSCRIBE:  You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner of the site (  and entering your email address.





By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken  Genesis 3:19

Recently, the parents of a 30-year-old son sued in court to evict him from the basement of their house in New York. He admitted in court that he didn’t help around the house and had no job. He lived there rent-free for 8 years. His parents finally started writing him letters giving him notice that he needed to leave their house, or they would have him removed. He ignored those letters.

He admitted he never helped with any household expenses, chores or the maintenance of the premises and that this is “simply a component of the living agreement.”

He planned to support himself but that “it’s not something that’s going to come together tomorrow.”  Gee, you would think 8 years would be enough, but maybe that’s just me.

I guess we all don’t want to grow up when others support our lifestyle. He said staying in his parent’s house was “trying to do what’s best for me.” I think to myself what he is saying is: “it’s all about me”.

He denied that being an “entitled millennial” saying that “they” were more liberal than he was. The interviewer told him a millennial is determined by the year you were born, not on your values or views.

I find this story extreme, yet it reinforces my observation that extended adolescence is a real issue to a large segment of millennials.  Some 15% of millennials live with their parentsuntil their early 30’s. Only 5% of those still living at home are unemployed, so having a job is not entirely the issue.

Many don’t want to take responsibility for their lives and they defer making decisions. They are perfectly comfortable sponging of their parents. On the flip side, parents are co-dependents in this process. Parents are reluctant to tell their offspring that they need to get out of the nest and get on with their lives.

My Dad made that clear to me when I was 16. He said that he felt his job as a father was to help me get an education and that he would help with that for as far as I wanted to go. After that, it was up to me. Period. When I completed my education, the support was over.

I had no expectation after graduation of getting more financial help. Staying with my parents was totally beyond consideration. His advice was very biblical. Sadly, many millennials come from a single parent home, and they have no father in their life to provide this kind of input.

God’s economy is based on the work ethic. It goes back to the passage in Genesis 3:19, where man was commanded to work for a living.  It’s a biblical and social construct that has worked for many thousands of years, or at least until now.

Mike Rowe, a San Francisco media commentator, was interviewed on  television   Rowe gives away “work ethic scholarships”. He has given away $5 million in the last 5 years.

Rowe lamented that it was increasingly hard to find someone who is willing to actually work for his scholarship. The demands aren’t that difficult – agreeing to write a paper and do a video. But for some, it’s too hard.

Tony Compolo, in his the book “Who Switched the Price Tags”,  describes the pampering model of parenting which evolved during the last century.

Instead of helping them transition to being responsible adults, they cater to their children’s interests, often to their detriment. As Compolo says, we have raised a generation that doesn’t want to become adults, and you can’t really blame them.

In the New York eviction case, the parents finally realized their error of letting their son take no responsibility for his own well-being. Sadly, they had to go to court to make their son do what he should have done 8 years before on his own. I would describe this as an extreme example of “tough love”.

The challenge is that many millennials are tainted by their upbringing. As someone said, they have been dealt a bad hand. They need help, and that help can come from different parenting, or, more likely, from a mentor who will take them under their wing and join their journey in life.

 MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Most adolescents tune out their parents in their early teens. Just ask any parent. But mentors have an ability to be heard and are able to speak into their lives in a way that their parents cannot. That’s your opportunity today.

FURTHER STUDY:  Pew Researchon Millennials living at home.

WORSHIP:  Listen to Bethel Music sing “You Make Me Brave

COMMENT:  I would be delighted at comments on this or any other post. You can comment by clicking on the icon at the top of the page or emailing me at otterpater@nc.rr.comSUBSCRIBE:  You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner of the site (  and entering your email address.