What Happens When a Generation Won’t Grow Up?

In today’s world we don’t hear a lot of voices or messages emphasizing the need for maturity. This is true of the church and our culture in general. There are a lot conflicting values that we become indoctrinated with, but maturity is not really on the radar for the most part. In contrast, other messages like “consume, indulge, you deserve it,” are very easy to come across.

In a recent podcast, Mark Driscoll discusses a cultural trend that is frightening both for the church and culture in general ( click hear to listen ). Essentially, many young adults today are spoiled.  They leave home expecting to live at the level of their parents.  At 18, credit card applications come flooding in the mail.  Principles of hard work and delayed gratification are not esteemed, especially in the media.  Driscoll says that the trend is more common in young men than women.  “It used to be you’d go from boy to man, and now you go from boy, to “guy” to man,” where we’ve created this new category that is basically extended adolescence.

The characteristics of “guy” might include someone who is in his 20’s, 30’s, and perhaps even 40’s. He resists getting married, doesn’t want to settle down or settle on a career.  “He has a lot of hobbies, a lot of buddies, watches a lot of porn,” etc.  He plays video games and basically lives for enjoyment and fun… instant gratification.  The Adam Sandler life.  They don’t contribute to their church, they don’t give, they’re not leading the next generation, etc.  There is an entire adult-adolescent culture that the church has no idea how to deal with.  Driscoll attributes much of the problem to divorce, where the common absence of a parent leads to the other parent working, which leads to the child being left alone at home – completely free and unrestrained.

Now, this is absolutely not true of all young adults, and it is true that the trend is shown in women as well, though statistically, young adult women are living much more responsibly than men (or “guys”).  But if what Driscoll describes is a bit extreme, and in particular pertains to young adult males who are not Christians, are we seeing at least some of these traits, even in young adult Christians today? I think so.  I’m a young a adult, and I’ve recognized that tension in myself.

I’m a male, I’m married, and have a one year old son.  My wife and I just bought a house.  We’ve taken classes on financial responsibility, we have an emergency fund, we’re saving money, etc.  I’d say we’re doing quite well.  On the other hand, buying a house involves a lot of work, and I find myself fighting a feeling of “endowment.”  In other words, “I shouldn’t have to spend my time working on the house today.  I shouldn’t have to be the baby-sitter.  When do I get to do what I want to do? Why shouldn’t I be allowed to spend money on the latest camera?  If we have the money, shouldn’t I be able to spend it?” As if I am “owed” it or intrinsically deserve it.

Interestingly, as a side note, the ancient Greeks, who did not share Christian virtues when it came to issues of sexuality, idolatry, etc., would say that in our culture’s efforts to live “free,” we are becoming slaves.  It is only in the ability to control one’s passions that a person is able to master his own decisions and thus is truly “free.”  Self restraint equals freedom.  Instant gratification equals slavery.

Our culture says to live for yourself.  Go into debt.  Consume.  You deserve it.

The truth is, there is a God.  We are not God.  Sin is working in the world, and we will either be a part of the solution, or a part of the problem.  What are you doing with your life?  I’ve heard many people talk about stewardship, and how when the current “older generation” dies off, the church will be in a lot of trouble, because the upcoming generation are not givers.  What are you doing with your time, talents, and treasures?  What’s your plan for your life?  Will you live as a part of God’s Kingdom?

When we take time to set down our cell-phones and other gadgets and actually listen to God, what will we hear? The following quote is adapted from Relevant Magazine:

“To have a dynamic relationship with God is not a quick-fix program or formula. It’s a time-consuming process. It’s the constant plea: “God, there must be more about You, and there must be more about me!” Cultivating this hunger forces us to put down our PDAs and perk up our ears to hear God, because His words are the very bread that will satisfy our hunger.”