Mistakes Millennials Can Make
Neal Samudre writes that some “mistakes” are acceptable for young adults. Why? Because not every mistake is a fatal error. Many emerging adults avoid some choices out of fear of screwing up their lives, a pressure to conform, or an unconscious desire to meet social expectations. The “mistakes” they’ve been avoiding are really just options or choices.
Here are Samudre’s nine “mistakes” he thinks emerging generations are free make:
It is OK to be without a five year plan.
It is OK to end a relationship with someone that others expected you to marry.
It is OK to spend money on a risky endeavor, so long as it is worthy of the risk.
It is OK to stay home on the weekends and decline invitations from friends.
It is OK to choose your own career path.
It is OK to marry at a young age.
It is OK to have kids at a young age.
It is OK to move back in with your parents if that is wise.
It is OK to question God. God can handle questions and doubts, and when these are faced prayerfully, God can use these to bring about a deeper faith.
Samudre writes, “People will try to convince us that certain actions are mistakes, but our twenties are a time to live boldly and not let the fear of making mistakes hold us back.”
His primary message: young adults should examine the assumptions they have about what their lives should look like, make their own choices, and live apart from fear, guilt, or some combination of the two.
Samudre’s list is revealing. You may have never told a young adult that they need to have a five year plan, marry their college sweetheart (or, conversely, delay marriage and the start of family), hold onto their money, never turn down an invitation, etc. But these ideas are widespread. Gen Zers feel pressure to have their lives figured out and so do Millennials. They’ve picked up ideas about what they are supposed to do and what they’re not supposed to do. Samudre names widespread assumptions that young adults have. Consciously or not, your congregation may have helped reinforce these assumptions.
Naming anxieties, insecurities, and fears is a good ministry practice. It helps people to know they are not alone and that they are understood. It also helps people to be vulnerable, as well as to explore ways in which the gospel addresses our worries and concerns.
It is also helpful to name accepted cultural narratives and to challenge them when necessary. This requires thought, prayer, deep listening, and careful conversation. The prophets often named the overwhelming spirit of the age and called people back to another way of being. Your congregation can be prophetic, helping emerging adults see ways their assumptions about reality misalign with the kingdom of God and call them to lives of faithfulness.
When emerging adults see that some “mistakes” are just options or choices, the next step is to equip them with wisdom. Help them to see there is time for them to discern how God is calling them to steward their lives. Offer guidance on how to make decisions. Encourage emerging adults to live boldly, just as Samudre states. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”
Give young adults the freedom to make their own choices. But also offer them all the help that you can in the name of Jesus Christ.