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Generation born since ’83 takes new view of authority, he says

GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–Unlike baby boomers who respect authority and Gen-Xers who ignore authority, the generation of Americans born since 1983 – the Millennials — will choose their authority, Jim Toole said.

Toole, senior pastor of Christ Covenant Church in Shelby, N.C., and a contract worker for the National Collegiate Ministry department of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, spoke to leaders during Collegiate Week at LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center on “The Eight Cries of Today’s Collegians.”

“The boomers respect authority. We’re the brown-nosers, the suck-ups,” he said. “If we’re at work and the boss comes by, we will make ourselves look busy and productive.

“Gen-Xers ignore authority. If the boss walks by and a Gen-Xer is eating popcorn or surfing the Internet, and the boss asks what is going on, the Gen-Xer will say he just isn’t ready to work yet,” Toole said.

“The Millennials will choose their authority. They will be workaholics, the accomplishers. They won’t respect someone as an authority figure unless that authority has been earned,” he said.

Noting that demographers only began targeting the Millennials, Generation Y, in 1997, he described the group as “the most mosaic of any generation.”

“For the first time in history, we are seeing five generations of people in the workplace. We are seeing five ethnic groups in the workplace. People are wanting to know how to work with this new generation of people,” he said.

He listed eight characteristics about Millennials, beginning with the fact that they see themselves as special.

“How many times have you seen a little kid in a grocery story grabbing things, having a fit, really being a brat, and his mom is just saying something like, ‘Mommy’s little angel needs to stop that.’ They are treated like they are the ‘little angels.’ But they aren’t! They need guidance and discipline,” he said.

Also, Toole said Millennials have been sheltered. “This is the generation whose parents hung those little ‘Baby on Board’ signs in their cars,” Toole said.

“Two books, ‘Millennials Rising’ and ‘The Fourth Turning’ by Strauss and Howe, tell us a lot about this generation,” he said.

“They say that in the last 600 years there have been four generations that keep repeating themselves. This Millennial generation is the same type of generation as the Builders, those people who fought in World Wars I and II,” Toole said. “There is something in our DNA that tells us, ‘This generation must be protected so they can meet the great challenge they will face. It says we are nurturing the souls of the next great generation.’ It tells us they are special.”

Millennials also are confident and team-oriented, Toole said.

“These kids are on soccer teams, baseball teams, cheerleading teams,” Toole said. “These kids like uniforms!”

Millennials also feel pressure to achieve and will be achievers.

“The parents push and the kids try to do it all. The Gen-Xers were more loners and didn’t feel the same pressure to succeed.”

In another area of contrast with Gen-Xers, Toole said Millennials are more conventional.

“This is the group that will get married, live together and have families — in that order,” Toole said.

As loved and nurtured as this generation has been, however, they still are hurting, Toole said. He listed eight cries of Millennials and ways leaders must respond:

— The cry for relationships. Be accessible, consistent and transparent.

— Responsibility. Build/earn trust; have some rules.

— Reassurance. Show acceptance and give approval.

— Rescue. “They need you to rescue them from themselves and from their parents. They may need advice, counseling or therapy. Don’t attempt a rescue you aren’t prepared to handle.”

— Romance. “They need affection, connection and companionship. They need to understand romance isn’t what they see in the movies.”

— Recreation/re-creation. Provide adventure, activity and competition.

— Reconciliation. “They want everyone to get along and feel good at the end of the day.”

— Reverence. “They want to be in awe of God; they want to celebrate their worship; they want to experience a transcendence, something outside of themselves.”

About 2,000 people attended the Aug. 4-10 event sponsored by LifeWay. Next year’s Collegiate Week at Glorieta will be Aug. 3-9, 2002.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: JIM TOOLE.

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  • Polly House