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Thoughts on Leadership

What Kind of Mentoring Do Millennials Desire?


There are 71 million Millennials in the U.S. population as of 2015. If a vision of discipleship for millennials will be effectively passed on to this generation, there are some things which we Boomer and Generation X leaders must know.

Let’s Listen to the Millennials

I recently had the opportunity to do some training for ministry residents (all Millennials) at a mega-church.  As you may know, Millennials were born from 1980 to 1995 and are ages 21-36 now (2017).  I hesitate to use labels and know this is not always very helpful or appreciated, so please overlook that limitation.

When I thought what I should talk to them about, I wondered, "Tell them your failures.”  After some hesitancy, I started writing down my many failures.  A great discussion emerged. 

The second topic that I was curious about was, “What could I (we) learn from them about what they think about mentoring Millennials?"  What would they tell my “generation” about how they want to be mentored?

They expected me to teach them, but what happened is that I wanted them to teach me (“Reverse Mentoring”). We started the discussion and captured their ideas and words on the large post-it note.


I simply want to share what they said and not add any comments.  Reflecting on the implications of this is a good next step for parents, pastors, and “older” discipleship leaders.

What we as Millennials value about being Mentored?

  • The process of self-discovery is valued over knowledge transference.
  • Intentionality to a process which is relationally implemented.
  • The desire to get and give.
  • The Western value of individualism has been replaced by a desire for community.
  • Values intergenerational relationships and diversity of people.
  • A curriculum is a helpful path but relationship is more important.
  • "Life = Curriculum" perspective
  • It must follow biblical principles applied with patience and grace.
  • Growth has to go beyond just inspiration from “up front” and go into relational engagement.
  • The intention to experience growth in community then invest in others is compelling.
  • Those being in a mentoring relationship/group must know the leader cares for them.
  • The high cost and high commitment is attractive.
  • A coaching style of mentoring is more valuable than a directive style of telling people what to do.
  • When there is a culture of strong and humble men being discipled, it encourages the women.

What do we Millennials want you - an older leader, to know about us?

  1. We are attracted to authentic, vulnerable, genuine and flexible relationships.
  2. We grow best in a “no judgment zone.”
  3. Call us out on our crap.
  4. Coach us, don’t just direct us.
  5. Be honest about your struggles, we can tell when you are faking it.
  6. Meet us on our turf.
  7. We are unclear and fearful about our future.
  8. We don’t set goals for the future but we have desires.
  9. We have frequent job changes.
  10. Don’t think we are lazy and just want to ruin the world.
  11. We like causes of justice and philanthropic events.
  12. We won’t automatically trust you, it must be earned.
  13. Before we can hear truth, we have to trust you.
  14. Help us identify the idols of our generation and of yours.
  15. Speak about truth as black and white.
  16. Be honest when sharing your opinions and speak about them as gray.
  17. You need to teach me what you want me to know.
  18. We are more accepting of people who struggle than your generation.

Which of these are insightful for you?  What are the significant implications of these learnings for how to mentor Millennials?

Photo Courtesy of RobWilson/BigStockPhoto.com