Life was different then.
202 had started with such, promise.
Life was flowing; it felt natural.
Finally, my wife and I felt settled. We felt like we were home. After starting off our marriage, our relationship, in the midst of transitions, in the midst of hardship, we were able to take a deep breath.
Winter Camp went off without a hitch (in the life of a Youth Pastor, that’s a big deal). We even moved from our apartment into a townhome. We were now in full stride, preparing for Phase 2 of life here in Charleston, of investing into SAYM.
These days feel like memories from long ago – or even just yesterday. It’s really hard to figure out what time is or means in this season.
But, as I’ve been sitting in quarantine, I’ve been processing, I’ve been reflecting, I’ve been analyzing the world that was and how we lived inside it. I’ve been processing life pre-pandemic, pre-Coronavirus, and who we were and who it was making us become.
As a Youth Pastor, I’m someone who is blessed to spend my time, my life, investing in Generation Z. It’s an honor and I’ve been blessed to do it on both coasts. As a Millennial pouring into this generation, I have a front row seat to where we were heading and where we are now heading. I also have a hand in helping coach Gen Z to become the type of people they want to be with the life they want to live.
As I’ve gotten to know Gen Z, I’ve seen their heart and their soul. I’ve seen what makes them tick. I love that they are passionate – they have the same passion and desire to change the world that us Millennials cultivated. They’ve seen us follow our desire to change the world and make a difference, but they have also seen how sometimes we either: a) didn’t follow through or b) saw that the world didn’t always go our way with a recession and all not allowing us to fully turn our dreams, our passions into reality.
So, in light of this, Gen Z, is driven. Probably the most driven generation there is. This drivenness coincides with their parents, usually Gen X, who have been able to build a good life for themselves, and help foster the ability for their student to be involved in just about everything. Therefore, Gen Z has become the busiest generation I’ve ever seen or heard of.
They want stability – that’s part of why they are willing to be so busy. The more they do now, the easier a scholarship will be. The more they do now, the better job they’ll get after college.
More. More. More.
Technology helps with that because Gen Z are the true digital natives – not Millennials. We remember a world without connectedness, without technology.
Not Gen Z.
Ah you think darkness is your ally? You merely adopted the dark. I was born in it, molded by it. I didn’t see the light until I was already a man, by then it was nothing to me but blinding!”Bane, The Dark Knight
Every time I think of Millennials versus Gen Z with technology, I think of that conversation between Bane and Batman. Millennials merely adopted technology, Gen Z was born into technology, molded by it, and this season has blinded them (more on that in a future post).
Gen Z was hyper-busy and hyper-connected. It’s the world they knew.
I’ve never seen anything like it.
These High Schoolers were living the schedule that I lived in college. They were involved in everything and they were burning the candles at both ends.
It was admirable; it wasn’t something to fight.
It was something to coach them in how to use their time and how to find rest – healthy rest in Jesus. It was opportunities to coach them into figuring out what health looks like, what self care looks like, and how busyness is neither good nor bad. The key is how you are using your time in busyness – to become a more effective disciple of Jesus or not. Don’t let the busyness distract you from following Jesus.
This was the world that was: hyper-connected and hyper-busy.
Teaching Gen Z how to manage technology, not just busyness was part of my life. The key was understanding technology to them was not the same as it was for even Millennials. Technology made them connected and this connectedness means Gen Z has as much in common with people in different geographical regions than they do in their own sometimes. Their world is truly global.
Then, the global pandemic hit.
Technology became a crutch, a leash.
The routines of busyness got stripped away.
For the first time in their adolescence they are being forced to choose:
Who do I want to be? What do I enjoy? What do I want to do? Why was I so busy? Was that healthy? Do I really want to go back to that way of life?
Routinely, as I talk to my students about the world that was, this is the overarching questions I’m hearing them process.
As a Youth Pastor, I’m stoked.
I pray, Gen Z realizes this quicker than their predecessors. Bigger is not always healthier; busier isn’t always more successful; character matters most.
This is the world that was.
I pray this is not the world that will be when this is all over.
I don’t want to go back to that world.
I don’t believe the crazy, busy, hectic pace of life is what Jesus intends us as followers of Jesus to live.
I believe Jesus wants us to live intentional lives.
I believe we must live unhurried lives.
I believe we must live interruptible lives.
Why have so many pastors flamed out, had moral failures, or left the faith? I believe it’s because we have been living a pace of life that we were not designed for.
It’s been my hope that us Millennials would learn this, see this, and lead the way as we change the future of the church. Now, thanks to the world that was being destroyed, I’m excited to see the beauty that comes from ashes.
I hope us Millennials are ready to invest in Gen Z and model to them how to live an unhurried life, an intentional life, the pace of life Jesus led in the Gospels where He could be interrupted on His way to heal Jarius’ daughter, by a woman who was bleeding who needed hope, needed healing herself.
Farewell to the world that was.
May we allow the time, the space, to not gaslight, not ignore, but let the beauty rise from the ashes.