Deep inside of us we all want to think that we are unique – some special and different than everyone around us. And on one level that is true as our personalities, physical features, background and the essences that make us “us” is unique and different.
Yet on larger level we are not unique. Instead we all tend to take on the characteristics of our culture and, to a certain level, the characteristics of our generation.
In the reading the book “The Millennials: Connecting to America’s Largest Generation” by Thom S. Rainer and Jess Rainer I was really struck by how much of my thinking and values were shared across the 77.9 million people born in the United States between 1980 and 2000. (Being born in the first half of 1980, I am on the forefront of this generation – the largest, by the way, since the 75.5 million Baby Boomers of 1946-1964.)
For example, for years now dating back to high school, I have stated that my goal in life was to ‘change the world.’ I remember singing worships songs on that theme and wanting to live life that made a mark on history versus simply existing. What I didn’t know that that this value of making a differences is a common across the Millennnial generation regardless of religious affiliation.
Another common value is the Millennials desire to be relational and to seek out mentors and teachers who can help them move forward through the twists and turns of life. This value is vastly different than the previous two generations (Boomers and X), where companies similar to Salesforce have identified this too. They both typically valued independence and threw off the ‘chains’ of their elders and struck out on their own. Given that the Millennials saw the difficulties caused by this, it is not too surprising to me that we decided to seek out advice and guidance.
The third shared value is that Millennials tend to have an innate desire to learn. If things continue, this generation is on track to being the most educated generation in the world with over 30% of the generation graduating college. Again, this perpetual desire to learn is something that has defined my life as I have continued to read widely and pursue postgraduate education.
The last common statistic that this book highlight was yet another one that I have personally experienced over the years. By far and large the Millennials generation are not religious. They have forsaken the churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and whatever of their parents and typically opted for agnosticism – that is, they tend to place religious matters on the back burner and just focus on the here-and-now. On the good side, those Millennials who have chosen a particular religion or faith have typically jumped in with both feet. On an experiential level I have seen this very thing with folks my age either forsaking the church or giving everything they had to Jesus and His body. I myself am a perfect example of this as is my wife.
All in all this book was eye opening and very informative about myself and my generation (abet, being a forerunner, I do have some Gen X characteristics as well).
However before I end this review, I do want to point out that I was disappointed in how the authors dealt with the faith issue and how they defined Christianity. Namely they narrowly defined Christianity to only include evangelicals who believed the way they do – which, in all honestly, they did admit up front in the chapters before discussing the matter. It is just that the more I follow Jesus the more I realize that His followers have no boundaries and we would be wise to remember that. But, like I said, the authors do mention their biases and so this one item is not a deal-breaker, instead it is more like a pet-peeve. :p