Awareness

Aware

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

1 Corinthians 13:10 

I openly admit I may not be the most socially aware person. My wife is quick to coach me about being more curious about other people’s lives and interests. I personally think I’m OK, but I still have some work to do.

Two college interns spent this past summer at our church.  One of them is engaged to be married. Both of them worked with our worship team. They are both talented musicians and members of Gen Z.

A friend and his wife had them over to their house for dinner. Their experience is anecdotal of the next generation.

The interns never asked any questions of their hosts during their time together. Nothing. Nada. Zero curiosity. It was all about them: their interests, desires, plans, experiences, goals, etc.

Another leader who had taken the same interns to lunch. He had the identical experience. There was no curiosity about their host.  I know both of these men. They have led fascinating careers and have accomplished very interesting things. It’s hard to imagine that anyone would not have questions for them.

My friend thought their behavior quite odd and asked me what I thought about it. My first thought was that these interactions are neither isolated nor rare.

The next generation (and in particular the millennials) are the “me, me, me” generation. I think it is more than that. Gen Z are digital natives who are constantly connected to others but not through face-to-face interactions.

The digital “connection” has a price. Gen Z lacks self-awareness of this, and at one level, they are blind to it. They are socially unaware of how they come across to others in a social setting.

In my career, I had a law colleague who was ultra-smart about everything except when it came to interpersonal communication. I used to joke that he had the interpersonal skills of an anvil dropped from a 10-story building.

About every three months, I had to sit down with him to tell him that he had over-stepped his boundaries with some staff member who had threatened to quit (or was in the bathroom crying) because of something he said or did.

Every time, he had the same reaction: he was surprised his behavior had caused waves.  His “fix” was to take the offended person out to lunch to make amends. That worked a couple of times, but not always.

It’s not a stretch to say that the two interns would react the same way: they would be surprised if someone pointed out their self-absorption.

I have come up with a theory to explain the interns behavior. It’s really the “birds of a feather flock together” theory. Gen Z’s circle of friends are like-minded in their self-absorption.

They don’t need to ask questions about others because their friends and colleagues will openly tell them what’s going on in their lives without prompting.  When they get in an intergenerational context (or get their first job), they will be lacking in a skill that is needed in life to be successful.

I touched on this topic when I wrote Arrogance and EQ. One reader said that I could republish the Arrogance post monthly. It struck a nerve.

The also lack what I call “street-smarts” which I attribute to the lack of inter-personal interaction which has been replaced by “conversations” on a smart phone. It is not the same.

An Emory professor said: “People are more narcissistic when they are young. It’s a self-absorbed stage of life.”  I was reminded of this quote when one of the interns lamented that he felt was not given freedom during his internship “to show how worship is really done”.

Ouch!

Hebrew has a word for this:  Chutzpah. It means impudent or someone who has audacity. It can be interpreted as arrogance, too. Ironically, these labels may be misplaced because Gen Z are just socially deficient. It’s not as if they were trying to be insolent or arrogant. They just don’t know any better.

The challenge here is to help the next generation develop a sense of self-awareness. They are, in many ways, socially “unaware”, largely due to the lack of interpersonal interaction which earlier generations learned in the pre-digital era. They need help.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Meeting with the next generation may be the best fix for helping them learn to become more socially aware. Have them ask you questions about your life as practice.

FURTHER READINGEmotional Intelligence 2.0.

Tim Elmore:  Arrogance: What to do When Your Students Know Everything.

WORSHIP: Listen to Breathe by Hillsong.

MentorLink:For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

SUBSCRIBE:  You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner and entering your email address. Photo: Dan Rush

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Collaborate

collaborate

Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.  Mark 6:7

 I was reminded of this topic at a recent MentorLink board meeting. It is one of the five core values that we emphasize to leaders. Two are better than one. This post will explore the benefits of collaboration in three different contexts, including how it will help connect with the next generation.

When the recession of 2008 hit, our ministry suffered a significant drop in financial support, as did most other ministries and charities. We had to retrench and pare down our budget to the bare minimum after 8 years of existence.

In hindsight, it may have been the best thing that happened to us, difficult though it was. The ministry exploded exponentially.  One would think was the last thing that would happen.

Conventional wisdom tells you that your ministry “output” should be in direct proportion to financial “input”. While that may be true in many cases, it was not true for MentorLInk.

Why did we succeed where others failed?   Very simple:  we collaborated with other ministries,. We formed partnerships with NGO’s, denominations and churches around the globe, none of whom were relying on our financial support. Collaborating and partnering is one of our core beliefs. It’s the way Jesus and the disciples spread the gospel.

Our partners embraced our emphasis on character over content, and influence over control. We were the catalyst, and our partners took our tools and ran with ball. They went to places we could not gain entrance, and their ongoing ministry was not impacted by a recession on another continent.

The second anecdote of the benefits of collaborating comes from one of my engineering friends. He tells of his experience of collaborating while in the Air Force years ago. He assembled a team of 4 to 5 people to work on projects – often inter-disciplinary and consisting of people with different backgrounds and specialties.

He said that the small group of collaborators was the most effective model for innovation.  They accomplished some amazing things – some of which are just now being “declassified” by the government after 40 years.

Which makes me turn to the next generation. Collaboration has a particularly important role for the next generation. They learn best by collaboration, and studies show that it is one of the most effective means of learning.

Schools and colleges are now adopting a “flipped classroom” model where the teacher becomes a facilitator rather than a lecturer.

A study by IdeaPaint discovered that 74% of millennials prefer to collaborate in small groups. I rest my case.  The workplace is already adapting to developing teamwork and collaborative models. The church, however, has lagged behind these developments. It’s time to catch up.

At our board meeting last weekend, one of our group believes strongly that the church needs to focus on millennial leadership.  He has found that millennials are relational believers first and church goers last. They often “hate” the organized church, and often eschew it for meetings off-campus to interact with each other.

His observations are consistent with my own observations. The youngest millennial is now around 23.  They comprise the largest demographic component in the United States (78 million). That’s true elsewhere:  in Africa, the median age of their population is only 19.

Nonetheless, I don’t see the church embracing the next generation into its leadership models, or even being strategic in trying to reach them.  One suggested answer: develop models of ministry where collaboration and participation are the norm. That means the pastor or leader becomes a facilitator, , not a teacher or lecturer in the classic sense.

Long sermons are still the norm, but the average millennial will check out within minutes. It’s not that they aren’t interested;  it’s the wrong learning model for them. With an attention span  of only 8 seconds, one can’t expect them to suffer through a 20-30-minute sermon or lecture.

The bible is clear in its mandate to “pass it on to the next generation”.  Today’s next generation is unique because they are digital natives, and we need to learn to communicate with them differently. Developing models of teaching and leading that permits them to actively engage and participate is one method to explore.

Collaboration worked for Jesus. It worked for MentorLink and my engineering friend, and it can work for the next generation.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:   The digital world is here to stay.  Mentors should be embracing collaboration as a way to communicate with the next generation in a new and creative way.

FURTHER READINGUnderstanding the Millennial Mindset of Collaboration– a good primer.

What Can We Learn from the “Collaboration Generation”– Prysm.com

The (Millennial) Workplace of the Future is Almost HereThese 3 Things Are About to Change Big Time  — Inc.com

WORSHIP: Listen to Yes I Will by Vertical Worship

MentorLink:For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

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Evasion

burnerphones

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Colossians 4:19

Disobedience is not new. Children have always sought ways to evade parental control, particularly when they become adolescents. I often tell parents that you can tell when a child becomes an adolescent:  it’s when they became deaf overnight.

Most parents nod their heads when I say that. I would be remiss in not saying that adolescents eventually grow out of it and become adults.

It  might not surprise you, but I wasn’t a perfect child and had my own measure of rebellion. Nothing bad, mind you, but my group of friends always had a secret going on that parents didn’t know (or at least we didn’t think so).

At least my disobedience was neither harmful nor addictive.

Fast forward to the digital natives of today, where a “friend” is at their fingertips, 24/7. They don’t have to go next door or down the street to connect.

They are constantly connected, which can have some bad consequences. A recent UK study shows a dramatic increase in myopia (nearsightedness) caused by teenagers spending too much screen time. The number of kids needing glasses has almost doubled in the past 7 years.

Parents struggle to monitor their children’s screen behavior. Cellphones can be useful, but too much of a good thing can be bad. In the case of mobile phones, it can lead to addiction which I have detailed previously.

No parent would ever knowingly give their child an addictive drug, yet they give in to the peer pressure by letting their children have phones, often unsupervised.

Addiction comes in many forms – it can be drugs, alcohol, even sex, but the most prevalent addiction for adolescents is phone addiction.

There is now a recognized disorder called “nomophobia”, or the fear about being without a mobile phone or having mobile contact. Nomophobia is a growing trend among the next generation over the past 5 years.

There is a disturbing the increase in the of burner phones use by Gen Z. Parents who try to limit their kids use of cell phones haven’t realized that this is the latest work around. Rationing the use of a cell phone only works if there is only one phone.

One parent had a 9 pm curfew where their three Gen Z children had to surrender their cell phones for the night  Their rule met with a lot of backbiting for a while, and then the children stopped complaining. The parents thought that was unusual.

That’s when they found out about burner phones. This is a phone that is disposable, cheap, and can be obtained at any school from some kid who sells them from his locker. Burner phones are available in almost every high school in the country according to a retired police detective.

For millions of Gen Z, the burner phone is the second or even third phone that their parents don’t know about. Having a burner phone is a telltale sign of phone addiction.  Sometimes, they are phones that have been replaced with newer ones, but they still can access the internet.

Tim Elmore has conducted focus group of middle and high school students. He has found that middle schoolers readily admit to being addicted to their phones. It’s not just for texting, but they are being used for posting on social media platforms unknown to parents like “Finsta” – the “fake Instagram” account.

As in any addiction, Gen Z kids have to find another source to satisfy their “substance” need – in this case a phone instead of drugs or alcohol.

Some suggestions for parents:

  • Have a written “contract” that defines the boundaries of cell phone use. Enforce it.
  • Monitor your kids’ online activity – track the hours and usage. If you see a sudden decrease, it might be because of a burner phone.
  • Discuss the ground rules and live by them. Discuss the dangers of social media.
  • Consider getting a newer router that can block certain apps and websites as well as alert you if unknown devices access your Wi-Fi.
  • Underscore the “trust” factor with your kids. Once it is violated, it has to be earned back.

The existence of a phone in a teenagers hands has some significant downside. There are even legislative initiatives  to “fight the digital drug” by curbing the “tricks” used by technology companies to get teens hooked digitally.

The digital world is here to stay. Parents, educators and mentors need to learn more about how to supervise limits for the next generation. That includes keeping current with trends that they might have missed, such as burner phones or Finsta.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Mentors can help in this process by asking their mentees hard questions about their use of phones to be sure they are not addicted.

FURTHER READING:

Dark Consensus about Screens and Kids Emerge in Silicon  Valley  – Axios

Parents Hire Coaches to Teach them to Live Without ScreensScary Mommy

Burner Phones– Growing Leaders

Fighting the Digital Drug– World Magazine

Teens Smuggle Burner Phones to Defy Parents Wall Street Journal

Fighting the Digital Drug

Teenagers Needing Glasses from Too Much Screen Time

WORSHIP: Listen to Christy Nockels sing Waiting Here for You

MentorLink:For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

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Pay Attention

 

goldfish

Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. Joel 1:3

Research on the next generation indicates a shortened attention span.  The goldfish, pictured above, has an attention span of 9 seconds. The millennials, on the other hand, have an attention span of 8 seconds – one second less than a goldfish.

And Gen Z?  Well, they have an attention span of only 6 seconds. Contrast that with the attention span of a teenager in 2000: it was 12 seconds. This means that they can pay attention to something for 12 seconds before being distracted.

Parents, teachers and employers all say this is a problem. When I meet with the younger generation, I often use the goldfish illustration as an insight of what makes them different. I have never had any one – millennial or Gen Z – deny that they have a short attention span.

Some of the degradation of attention span can be traced to the digital culture.  The next generation have grown up with mobile phones in their hands and are used to multi-tasking – often switching from one app to another.

They might be texting a friend and then quickly switch to Facebook, Instagram or whatever the latest popular social websites are for their friends. It is non-stop. They might even stop long enough to Google the answer to a question.

The average person checks their phone 150 times a day, sometimes every 6 or 7 minutes. Hard to stay focused with that distraction.

They might do a lot of reading, but it is superficial – often just headlines, posts to social media or text messages. But they don’t read at depth, and the reason, according to Tim Elmore, is not intelligence.  “It is attention span.”

It might be useful to describe the two kinds of attention spans.  The first is called Transient Attention which is a reaction to a stimulus that has temporarily distracted attention. There is no real research on how long this span is, but children pay attention to lots of different things during the day.

That brings us to Selective Sustained Attention, also known as focused attention. It is the level of attention required to produce consistent results on a task over time. Studies show that the average college student only has a 5-minute attention span– at best – where they can actually remain “on-task” without disruption.

Adam Gazzeley, a neuroscientist,  has written an interesting book titled “The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World.”  Based on neuroscience, he writes that the brain is designed to always be seeking out new information. Yet it also is “programmed” to continue to find food and water (i.e. staying on task).

Trouble is, the design for finding new information is stronger than the cognitive part that lets you complete tasks. As Gazzeley notes, the digital world has only made it worse.  Ignoring small distractions or stimuli is an active, not a passive, task for the brain to perform.

In effect, your brain uses scarce resources to filter out distractions around you. I had to laugh at this insight. My wife has always accused me of not listening when, in fact, I have zoned out while concentrating on a task.

What’s the cure?  Here are suggestions for improvement:

  • Learning from unique or interesting situations. The next generation learns best by collaboration. Make it interesting to them and let them actively participate.
  • Use stories and images from real life. The next generation is a visual generation, much more so than prior generations. Pictures grab their attention.
  • Stop multi-tasking. Your brain pays a penalty for doing several things at once. If you think you are good at multitasking, then you probably are the worst at it. Feeling good about it and efficiency are two different things.
  • Exercise more. Studies show that cognitive attention is increased by just one session of exercise. Oh…and get your sleep, too.
  • Reduce outside interference. Work in a boring environment. I, for one, find that I work better in environments where I am not as likely to be distracted. This might mean (gasp) turning your phone off.
  • Hydrate more – even a 2% drop in hydration affects your attention span. Drink tea (although I prefer coffee).
  • Listen to classical music – even symphonies. Peak brain activity occurs in the silence
  • Chew gum (who knew?). Studies show it can increase alertness.
  • Meditate more – several suggested this method of mental training of your attention based on study at UC Santa Barbara.

Everyone can improve their focus and attention span, but the next generation of digital natives are particularly vulnerable. Anything a parent or mentor can do to help them will be an improvement.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Think of your next generation as gold fish. They may need some aid in developing longer attention spans so they can think creatively.

FURTHER READING:  The Distracted Mind by Adam Gazzeley.

How to Increase Your Attention Span, from Gazzeley’s blog.

Five Tips to Increase Attention Span in Young Adults by Tim Elmore

8 Quick Ways to Improve your Attention Span – Fast Company

WORSHIP: Listen to Chris Tomlin sing I Will Follow

MentorLink:For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

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Love Does

stlouis

And the second [commandment] is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:39

One of the better books that I’ve read by Bob Goff is titled “Love Does”.   It is a series of anecdotes of how to love one another in real life.  He traces his daily life with sometimes hilarious examples of how love is played out.

My wife and I just spent about 30 hours in a car driving to St. Louis and back in 3.5 days. It was not a planned trip, for sure. Our friend, Kathy Virtue, had an important meeting to attend in St. Louis and was all set to go, until….

Well, until she fell and shattered her knee cap and broke her leg just below the knee. We signed up for bringing her a meal and took it over. That’s when we found out she was desperate to get to an important meeting in St. Louis.

She had chartered a private plane because flying commercial would be difficult with a knee replacement and a broken tibia.

I told her to check with her doctor about flying.  After surgery, there is an increased risk of blood clots when you are at altitude in a plane. Her doctor agreed with me, so she canceled the flight.

Sis (my wife) woke up in the middle of the next night and texted Kathy to say that she felt led to help Kathy drive to St. Louis. I was next to join the fray.  I enjoy driving and the logistics of planning hotels and restaurants on a long road trip.

Sis makes a great nurse – she kept track of how long ice was to be on her leg, when to take the next pain pill, etc. We were a good team, along with James, Kathy’s adopted son, who did the lion’s share of driving.

We had to make a stop every couple of hours so Kathy could get out of the car and walk around. While in the car, she sat in the back with a contraption that kept her knee moving which is required rehab for any knee replacement.

As Sis said – we had nothing else to do since I am retired. So, off we went. Three hotels, seven states and about 1,750 miles in three days. We ate barbecue in Nashville, Tennessee and Saint Louis, Missouri along the way.

We laughed, told stories and basically made the trip as fun as possible. We also developed a deep friendship that could only be possible through an experience  like this.

On the journey, I was thinking about what to write this week.  The reactions of friends to our adventure were interesting. No one could believe that we would do this for someone else.

Frankly, we didn’t think about that. We saw someone who needed help and we were in a position to provide help. Period. Sure, it could be viewed as a selfless act, but that’s not why we did it.  We did it because we could do something for Another.

Our trip was exactly what Bob Goff talks about in his book.  It is an example of being God’s hands and feet by doing something very simple: helping someone who needed our help.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  It is often not what you say but what you do that is important for your mentee to see.  They can see beyond words by your actions.

FURTHER READINGLove Does: Discovering a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World  and Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People, both by Bob Goff.

WORSHIP:  Listen to I Am Yours   by Michael Neal.

MentorLink:For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

SUBSCRIBE:  You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner and entering your email address. Photo: Kathy and Sis on the road to St. Louis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get Thee To a Nunnery

    MotherTheresa

She [Martha] had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. Luke 10:39

As an English major, I enjoyed reading Shakespeare. The title is from Hamlet  and is a quote by Hamlet who is speaking to Ophelia. It starts with “If thou doest marry….Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumnity. Get thee to a nunnery.”

What’s not obvious today is the dual meaning of the word nunnery in Shakespeare’s time. It was both a place for pure women and a house of prostitution. Hamlet is effectively telling Ophelia that she is both pure and impure at the same time.

Fast forward to today, where we live in a post-Christian culture and a large percentage of millennials are “Nones”, which means they have no religious preference. The term comes from the U.S. Census form where there are choices of religion: Christian, Moslem, Jewish….or None.

According to a 2016 Pew study, 78% of the Nones were raised in a religious family before they abandoned their faith background as adults.

Surprisingly, there is a trend of millennial Nones becoming Nuns. That’s not a misprint. Millennial women are becoming nuns after a 50-year decline.

Until recently, the average age of women desiring to become a nun was 40.  Now it is 24.  There is even a website – Nuns and Nones  – which has a subtitle of “An unlikely alliance across the communities of spirit.

Another website –VocationWatch.com– is described as a “dating site for nuns”. Patrice Tuohy, the  publisher, says there has been a significant uptick in interest in becoming a nun. Last year, she received 2,600 queries, up from 350 not long ago.

I am intrigued by this phenomenon, because it is a reversal of the millennial mantra “It’s all about me” which now becomes “It’s all about God.”

An article by Eva Fairbanks titled “Behold the Millennial Nuns” discusses this trend which, on the surface, seems to be a contradiction for a generation that has all but abandoned formal religion.

Fairbanks, who is Jewish, notes that in 2017, 13% of American women between the ages of 18 and 35 who responded to a Georgetown University survey said they had “considered becoming a Catholic sister”.

Fairbanks traces the paths of several millennials who are considering becoming a nun. I found it interesting because Catholicism, in particular,  seems to be out of step with millennials, particularly in the aftermath of sex scandals and the #MeToo movement.

The Catholic church lost more members in the 20thcentury than any other religion in the U.S. according to a 2008 Pew Study. The U.S. population of nuns declined from 180,000 in 1965 to 50,000 in 2008. There are more nuns over 90 than under 60.

And what makes this trend even more surprising: the millennials seeking to be nuns are more doctrinally conservative than their predecessors according to Eva Fairbanks.

To someone who has studied the Spirituality of the millennials, I find this fascinating. Millennials, after all, are known as the “Me, Me, Me” generation. Becoming a nun is a direct contradiction to being self-absorbed.

It’s hard to draw generalities from this trend because the individual choice of choosing a lifestyle of a nun is…well….it’s an individual thing, not a collective response.

Still, the trend  is so interestingly millennial counter-cultural. Fredrich Nietzsche, a philosopher, might have been on to something when he suggested that western civilization had killed God, replacing him with ourselves.

Nietzsche also said that underneath it all,  there still “simmered a yearning for religion.” Nietzsche  predicted that in our lifetime, “the world, and America in particular, would turn back toward more conservative, moralistic forms of religion.” I pray he is right.

I find this trend a positive indication of a spiritual yearning of millennials that is just now surfacing. It is playing itself out in interesting ways, including the interest in becoming a nun.

John Olon teaches a theology course at a Maryland Catholic high school,  He was surprised when students wanted overwhelmingly to hear a conservative (as opposed to a liberal) speaker. He attributes it to some of the anxiety, depression and pessimism which permeates his students.

Olon says that the level of anxiety of the next generation is leading them to having midlife crises, only it is happening early. They are asking questions like “What have I ever really done that has any depth?

Olon concludes that, while his students felt cornered, they desired to do something “truly wholeheartedly and unique”.  They find the superficiality of getting likes on Instagram or Facebook is not a meaningful pursuit.

The next generation is complex:  some have learned that being self-absorbed is not a path to enlightenment.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  A relationship with Jesus may play itself out in lots of ways. Mentors can help mentees work through those life options.

FURTHER READING:  Eva Fairbanks – Behold the Millennial Nuns

Nones and Nuns website.

WORSHIP:  Listen to Is He Worthy?  by Andrew Peterson which comes from Revelation 5.

MentorLink:For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

SUBSCRIBE:  You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner and entering your email address. Photo: Mother Theresa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marriage

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.  Genesis 2:24

The institution of marriage has taken a lot of hits recently. After mentoring many men – most of them married – I shouldn’t shrink from this topic.  Particularly after recent pronouncements by millennials about things like not having children due to climate change.

Let’s start with the trends.  There has been a dramatic decline in marriage of those over 18 in the U.S.  A Pew study shows marriage rates have declined with only 50% of people over 18 being married today compared to 72% in 1960.

Marriage is occurring later than before, partly because millennials are maturing later. In 1960, the average age of a woman to marry was 20.  By 2017, the median age is 27 for women and 29 for men according to a study by Tera Jordan at Iowa State University.

I attribute this trend to several things, not the least among them is that millennials have a lengthier adolescence, sometimes into their early 30’s. That’s a trend that has been occurring since the 1980’s according to New Passages author Gail Sheehy.

One journalist has gone so far as to attribute the decline in marriage to “cheap sex” and that the decline follows the introduction of the “pill”.

One bright spot:  the rate of divorce has declined, too. In fact, younger people are getting fewer divorces than those who are 55 or older.

I came across a recent article titled “What You Lose When You Gain a Spouse” by Mandy Len Catron. Just the thought of putting marriage in a win/lose context is confusing to me.

The theme of the article that marriage may not be the “social good” that people “believe and want it to be.”  The article says that there have been “massive changes” to the institution, leading to the question: Is it obsolete?  The whole premise of that statement is mind-numbing.

The writer considers it to be both a “social and political” question. Huh?  Since when is marriage political?  I must be missing something.

She concludes that marriage is not as popular as it once was and is not viewed as “the most prestigious way to live your life.” She cites studies that marriage causes loneliness – married people don’t go out as much. She describes it as “social alienation.”

The essence of the article is that marriage puts limits and takes from you. If you should have children, it takes even more. It is all about me – being self-absorbed is great – so anything that changes perpetual adolescence is to be shunned. It’s a myopic world view.

Marriage involves sacrifices. It starts with the sacrifice of oneself for the sake of another, and it is a path that leads to a fuller life, not a lesser one. My friend Paula Rinehart mused: “One wonders what the author will think when she reaches age 60, alone and with no one she particularly cares about.”

The Atlantic author says that she and her partner don’t ask whether they want to get married. They are asking: “how we want to define our sense of family and community.”

I have 53 years of marriage experience, a product of a lot of work in the trenches. When I married, I knew I loved my wife. Getting married was the socially accepted and logical result.

Something  has gotten lost in the translation. I didn’t marry because I was thinking about how I want to define my sense of “family and community”.  I married because it is an institution that has survived thousands of years in our culture. It is not just a passing fad.

It has a purpose – a God ordained purpose – it is the bedrock of every society. One of its purposes is procreation – the continuation of our species.  Try as they might, same-sex marriages don’t achieve this.

The Atlantic article reflects a very millennial view. Their self-absorption gets in the way of understanding that being unselfish is enriching, not constraining.

The challenge here is that the views may be widespread, not just one person’s. The focus is on the “me”, and anything or any institution that threatens “me” must be redefined to that “I can always be me.”

The path will lead to a shallow existence and a lessened life. Jesus sacrificed for us, and we are to serve one another. In marriage, we are to submit to one another.  It’s not just “all about me”.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  You can an advocate for the institution of marriage as God created it. Millennials need your perspective.

FURTHER READING:What You Lose When You Gain a Spouse

Divorce Rate is Dropping Unless You are Over 55– WSJ

When are You Really an Adult?”– Julie Beck

National ReviewCheap Sex and the Decline of Marriage

WORSHIP:  Listen to You’re Beautiful– Phil Wickham

MentorLink:For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

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