Relationship Status

Mentoring Millennials

Tip #12: Move On (1 Tim. 4:10).

Contrary to popular opinion, millennials aren’t perfect. Yes, we have the infallible Siri and the all-wise Google. When we get lost, we have a GPS on our smart phones. When we get bored, we have endless games, songs, and movie gossip sites (did you hear the latest on the new Marvel movie?). When we get upset, we have…well, not much actually (besides that too-often-unused Bible app). But for most of the issues of life, we have access to information and entertainment at the touch of a…well, screen. Even a button is out-of-date these days!

But for all our technological advancements, we have not gotten past the encroachment of darkness. Believe it or not, all young people still sin (I heard that amen)—just like their parents and grandparents, in fact! And this means that your mentee may let you down. You’ll, at some point or another, be disappointed at his progress, be discouraged at his lack of enthusiasm, or be stunned by his secret sin that’s not so secret anymore.

After all, as we referenced last week, Paul certainly was. Back in 2 Timothy 4:10, we read, “For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.”

Has your mentee packed up bags and headed out for Thessalonica? Has he done this while you were imprisoned by a vicious emperor who was slaughtering Christians for sport? Demas was “in love with this present world.” Unfortunately, I feel that describes my generation. I know too many millennials who have forsaken the church because they fell in love with worldly entertainment, worldly music, or worldly friends—or more-than-friends. They’ve updated their Facebook status—“in a relationship with: the World.”

Don’t be surprised when this happens with one of your millennial mentees. It’s bound to occur, given the overwhelming data. It seems we GUBs (growing up believers) aren’t true to that last letter all the time—many of us have fallen from the faith when we’ve reached college.

How can you, as a mentor, stop this? Well, for one, just by being a mentor! If a millennial feels like he belongs to a church, that he’s loved and cared for by its leaders—that he has potential for Christ—he is much less likely to slip away from the faith. Perhaps this is one of the reasons so many are departing—are we really personally investing in them? Or do they feel like they’re just another pew-sitter?

But despite all your efforts, no doubt some will still leave the church—slipping right through a mentor’s fingers! And it’s in those moments that you feel burned. You invested all this time into a guy, sacrificed time and sanity to train him in the Word…and yet he turns his back on it all. So much for mentoring! What good is it if the mentees head for Thessalonica the first chance they get!?

Ministers and mentors are getting burned by young people all the time. As we mentioned earlier, this contributes to a lack of trust in young people which in turn leads to a lack of ministry opportunities available to young people which leads eventually to their leaving the church altogether. All because one millennial burned out the pastor and his fellow leaders. Let me implore you—DON’T FALL INTO THIS ENDLESS CYCLE.

Yes, you will get burned. But don’t get burned out! Don’t keep all the young people out of your ministry because one young man betrayed your trust. Be careful setting parameters as to where young men interested in the ministry can serve. Yes, there are scandals that can occur if you let them serve—but with proper caution and thorough vetting, the major scandals can be mostly avoided…without having to drive interested millennials out of ministry opportunities.

Stop the cycle. When you experience a Demas, don’t give up! As we millennials say when experiencing a bad break-up, just “move on.” No, don’t move on from millennials altogether. But move on to the next millennial. Find a new one and pray every day that he will be a Timothy…not a Demas.

-M@

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