7 Reasons Baby Boomers Struggle Being Mentors

Earlier this week, I posted onMentoring that Usually Won’t Work with Christian Millennials.” What I didn’t address in that post is why my generation—I’m a younger Boomer—struggles with being the kind of mentors that millennials want. Here are my thoughts:

  1. Many of us were never mentored ourselves. So, we don’t know what mentoring should look like when we’re asked to take on the task—and that lack of know how keeps us from trying.
  2. We were discipled (if we were discipled) more by group instruction than by one-to-one mentoring. Discipleship was more about information transfer during a once-a-week class than about anything close to life-on-life.
  3. We’ve often not been discipled enough to deal with the questions that millennials are asking. Even if we had the same kinds of questions (e.g., why do we believe the Bible is the Word of God?), we seldom verbalized them. So, we’re often uncomfortable with young believers who struggle with their faith and ask us hard questions.
  4. If we’ve done any mentoring, it’s often more related to the business world than the church world. We’re willing to teach others what we’ve learned about our professions, but we’re not so comfortable revealing our vulnerabilities and weaknesses.
  5. We’re a generation raised to base our value on our accomplishments and possessions. We tend to be task-driven, and the time-consuming nature of relationships outside our family gets in the way of those tasks.
  6. We’re already over-scheduled. Even those of us at retirement stage stay busy. What time we think we have for mentoring isn’t much—certainly not the amount of time that millennials want.
  7. The world’s changing so much around us that we sometimes feel out of touch. We remember when TV was only black-and-white, and some millennials know only a world of computers and the Internet. Our worlds really are different.

So, what do we do? Boomers, let’s not let our own struggles and failures keep us from walking beside millennials.

And, millennials, please be patient with us!

1 Comment

  • Robin G. Jordan says:

    I am a Baby Boomer. The most mentoring that I have done with young people was as a social worker and a Boy Scout chaplain and in more recent years a small group member and a fellow student at a local university. I personally was fortunate enough to have a pastor mentor me in the area of worship and two older ladies to mentor me in prayer. Everything else that I learned came from reading and workshops. I have taught a fourth grade Sunday school class,led small group Bible studies, taught a class on Paul’s epistles, given lectures on worship and prayer, and participated in a number of small groups. But except when visiting a church,I have never attended a Bible class or Sunday school class in my whole life. A few years back I developed an interest in Celtic Christianity and the practice of serving as an anamchara, or soul friend (confessor, spiritual director, mentor, etc.) to fellow Christians. As a social worker I learned the art of listening and asking the right questions at the right movement and this skill fit nicely with being an anamchara to others. To think about,I also learned a lot of my other social work skills from other social workers and a psychiatrist. It’s one thing to read about something. It is another to put it into practice.

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