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Mentor the Next Generation

Mentor the Next Generation

Members of the millennial generation - people born after 1982 - are bursting onto the scene as young adults. Their optimism and passion, combined with their desire to commit to a cause, give them great potential to positively impact our world. Their desire for rules and boundaries, combined with their support for tradition and values, make them ready to listen to members of older generations who could give them guidance.

Millennials are longing for connection and meaning, and there's no better way for older people to help them find those things than by mentoring them. Here are some ways you can invest in the future by mentoring millennials:

Realize that are many different ways to be a mentor, and one of them will fit your life. Know that you don't have to be a full-time teacher or coach to be a mentor; you just have to be willing to look for opportunities God gives you, and then step into them.

Make time for young adults you know. Understand that millennials often feel lonely and are constantly seeking meaningful connections with other people. Giving them the gift of your time communicates love to them, and they will respond to that. Discover what each young adult most enjoys, then spend time together doing those things.

Be willing to take emotional risks. Realize that millennials crave authenticity. Ask God to help you be honest and vulnerable as you share your life with young adults. Seek to honestly understand the thoughts and feelings they share with you.

Share your stories. Know that millennials crave stories that illustrate spiritual truths. Tell young adults about your most poignant and powerful life experiences so they can see how God has worked in your life.

Make sure your life matches your words. Be aware that millennials can detect hypocrisy a mile away, but are powerfully impacted by lives of integrity in which people truly practice what they preach. Know that you can "passively mentor" someone without even knowing it if someone watching you from afar is inspired by your life.

Make them feel important. Notice each young adult's special qualities and compliment him or her on them. Encourage each young adult to put his or her God-given talents to use.

Have a sense of humor. Realize that humor can help people relax, trust each other more, and build stronger bonds.

Consider which mentoring style fits you best: the counseling style (in which the mentor offers timely advice and correct perspectives on oneself, others, circumstances, and ministry), the teaching style (in which the mentor offers knowledge and understanding of a particular subject), the sponsoring style (in which the mentor offers career guidance and protection as the protégé becomes a leader within an organization), the discipling style (in which the mentor helps the protégé understand the basics of following Christ), the spiritual guiding style (in which the mentor offers accountability, direction, and insight for questions, commitments, and decisions affecting spirituality and maturity), or the coaching style (in which the mentor provides motivation and imparts skills and application to meet a specific task or challenge).

No matter what your mentoring style, show how God is the source of all you and your protégés need. In the midst of a postmodern world that values comfort, let young people see how the only thing that truly satisfies is a relationship with a loving, powerful God. Help them understand that their spiritual growth is far more important than transitory comfort, and more fulfilling as well.

Adapted from Mentoring Millennials: Shaping the Next Generation, copyright © 2003 by Dr. Daniel Egeler. Published by NavPress, Colorado Springs, Co., www.navpress.com.

Dr. Daniel Egeler grew up on an isolated island in Lake Victoria, Tanzania, where his father was an "island evangelist." It was there that he learned the art of relating oral history from his African elders. Dan currently serves as the director for international school services (Europe and Africa) for the Association of Christian Schools International in Colorado Springs, Co. He and his wife, Kathy, have four children: Andrew, Danielle, Matthew, and Bethany.