Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z; we love our labels.
The ebb and flow of recurring traits from one generation to another intrigues me. Not so much because of their differences, but because they validate the old saying, “What goes around comes around.”
Marketing gurus scramble with the onset of every generation trying to identify their characteristics. What motivation will they respond to? What will be their cause? And most importantly, how will they want to spend their money?
As I scanned the characteristics of each of these generations, from mine down to my grandchildren’s, I decided I needed to remember my own maturing process rather than throwing stones at an entire generation.
I came across an article from Psychology Today written by Tim Elmore, founder of Growing Leaders, an international non-profit organization created to develop emerging leaders. In it, he lists seven marks of maturity I thought you parents, grandparents, teachers, and mentors might find interesting and helpful.
A mature person:
* is able to keep long-term commitments.
* is unshaken by flattery or criticism.
* possesses a spirit of humility.
* makes decisions based on character not feeling.
* expresses gratitude consistently.
* knows how to prioritize others before themselves.
* seeks wisdom before acting.
Young people have always sought to make their mark on the world. From what I’ve found in countless young adults and in myself, we all navigate through consistent stages of maturity.
- We gather facts about areas that interest us as we explore and discover the world around us.
- We ponder ways to make our mark.
- We gather more information and entertain a variety of viewpoints to help us determine our unwavering beliefs. (Some of these beliefs are founded on truth, while others are merely based on opinion. Many times it’s hard to know which is which.)
- We criticize leaders because we think we know better.
- We rush toward a decision without considering the consequences.
- We fail to seek and listen to wise counsel.
- After life kicks us around a bit we hopefully learn to process our thoughts, think before we speak, and seek wisdom from those who are steps ahead of us.
I believe this is the normal maturing process, and God is patient with us through it all.
Jesus taught us what maturity really looks like. It’s a matter of rewiring our thinking. He gave us four ways to become influential voices of reason. All seven of the above statements could fit into what The Message calls, the Great Reversals. These mark an ongoing and difficult process. If they were easy, we’d already have mastered them. We naturally gravitate toward easy.
- “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25)
- “The last will be first and the first will be last.” (Matthew 20:16)
- “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26-28)
- “Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. (Matthew 23:12)
I don’t know about you, but I’m still maturing. I need to hold these four standards next to my life – not the lives of those around me. While I can be a good influence, I am the only person I can change!
Young Generation Xer’s and Millennials, be patient with each other. Be especially patient with us Baby Boomers. We may see things differently because we’ve already seen them.
Baby Boomers, be patient with the younger crowd because we were once them. Be ready to give them an answer for the hope you’ve found; not just in Jesus, but for life in general. Be positive. Be helpful. Be patient.
Let’s all show some love to those little Generation Z kids. They will go through this same process. Let’s show them what can happen when generations work together. After all, that’s what Jesus prayed we would do:
“The goal is for all of them [us] to become one heart and mind—just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, so they might be one heart and mind with us. Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me. The same glory you gave me, I gave them, so they’ll be as unified and together as we are— I in them and you in me. Then they’ll be mature in this oneness, and give the godless world evidence that you’ve sent me and loved them in the same way you’ve loved me.” (John 17:20-23, The Message)
If we pray like Jesus, He will give us a supernatural desire and ability to love each other. That’s the true mark of maturity.