It’s vital to give Gen Z the message that they are special in Christ.
Friends, I am sorry to bring you some sad news. After watching several commercials, I have learned that I am not living my best life. The drug commercial showed me that I do not have the right kind of friends — friends that will fly kites with me or laugh joyfully while making pottery. So, apparently, I need to start taking that drug. I also need to switch my deodorant. According to the commercial, all women are supposed to find me attractive, so something must be wrong. Admittedly, I do not think my wife is going to like it when I get that kind of attention. That’s why I have to buy new sneakers. I learned that I am not fast enough, but if I get the sneakers in the commercial, I can run as fast as Usain Bolt. With those sneakers, I can outrun the women, who will find me irresistible after I switch my deodorant, so I do not get in trouble with my wife. Just to be safe, I will ask my new friends to help me make her a vase in pottery class.
I am attempting to make light of a concerning situation. We are bombarded by messages every day that tell us, in one way or another, that we are not good enough. Many of those messages cause further damage by demeaning women, making men look ignorant, or encouraging self-indulgent behavior. Whether it is from commercials, movies, TV shows, social media, or other medium, we daily receive the message that we need something in order to be complete. This may be one reason why, after “living healthier,” the most common New Year’s resolution in 2022 was “personal improvement or happiness.”* Many of us have been convinced that we do not have what we need in order to be happy.
These messages are especially devastating for Gen Z, a generation that is already exposed to more violence, natural disasters, and student loan debt than previous generations. Numerous studies have shown that Gen Z is likely the most anxious and depressed generation. As those who care for the emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being of children and youth, we need to proactively cultivate resilience in our young people. One way to do this is to continually remind our youth that God loves them and made them special.
As we transition from Christmas into the Epiphany season, it is a good time to teach our young people that when God is revealed, we are revealed as well. As David meditated on the goodness of God, he was moved to sing:
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
You formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
You know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
How I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day. (Psalm 139:13-16 (MSG)
As Christ-followers, we should push back against the messages of insufficiency plaguing Gen Z with the truth of God as revealed in Jesus. The truth is that each of us is loved unconditionally. God deliberately made each of us and willed us to be as we are. In Christ, we are becoming the truest version of ourselves. At the same time, God meets us and loves us right where we are. While none of us are perfect, in Christ, we are complete. This is good news! What are some things you can do to share this good news with your young people?
By Dishon Mills
U.S. Generations Ministry Coordinator
*Statista, “What are your 2022 resolutions?” Statista Research Department, November 15, 2022 (https://www.statista.com/statistics/378105/new-years-resolution/#:~:text=New%20Year’s%20resolution%20of%20Americans%20for%202022&text=About%2023%20percent%20of%20Americans,Resolution%20makers%2C%20resolution%20keepers%3F)