Who am I?: Identity Issues of a Thirtysomething

I’m getting older. Just tonight I realize I am getting wrinkles in-between my eyebrows. White hair is spreading like a virus through my hair. I throw out my shoulder playing dodgeball with students. I’ve been married almost ten years and both of my daughters will be in elementary school next fall. And yet I’m back on Youth Specialties looking for jobs just like I was ten years ago when I graduated from Taylor University.

Who am I? How have I changed since then? Ten years ago I was the young kid looking for a job. Now I feel old looking for a ministry job. Yet I’m only 32 years old.

I feel like I’m in between two worlds, two generations.

I feel like a Millennial but researchers put me in Generation X.

Last week I listened to Leadership Network’s Groundswell online conference and heard Millennials talk about what they wanted the church to be like. I resonated with some of their ideas and others didn’t quite match up with my experiences.

I was born in the summer of 1979 just down river from the Three Mile Island disaster. This puts me at the tail end of Generation X. But as I read more about Millennials and hear their stories, I resonate with that generation more than GenX.

Differences between GenX and Millennials

Generation X
Born 1965-1976
51 million
Born 1977 – 1998
75 million
Accept diversity
Reject rules
Killer life
Mistrust institutions
Use technology
Latch-key kids
Friend-not family
Celebrate diversity
Rewrite the rules
Killer lifestyle
Irrelevance of institutions
Assume technology
Multitask fast
Friends = family
Mentoring Do’s
· Casual, friendly work
· Involvement
· Flexibility and freedom
· A place to learn
Mentoring Do’s
· Structured, supportive work
· Personalized work
· Interactive relationship
· Be prepared for demands, high

Source: The Learning Café and American Demographics 

Maybe part of the reason that I have felt a little out of place in church leadership and the workplace is because I am on the leading edge of the Millennial Generation.

For those firmly in the Baby Boom Generation or Generation X, it is important to read up on this incoming generation and listen to our stories.

We need help from you. We need your wisdom. We need to learn from your mistakes and your successes. Most of all we need the chance to lead.

Our generation wants to experience God and they look everywhere except for the church. For the sake of the future of the church, let us lead our peers.

To learn more about the Millennial Generation, check out this resource from Pew Research.


About joelnewton

I am a husband to Hillary, a father to Anna and Norah

Posted on March 5, 2012, in Personal and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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