By Dr. William M. Wilson, Crosswalk.com
Generation Z, those that were born between 1995 and 2012, has been ordained to live and lead in unprecedented times. Rarely in history has any one generation endured so many sociological, physical, emotional, and spiritual storms throughout their lifetime—experiencing advancing terrorism, natural disasters, health crises, and magnified levels of isolation and loneliness. To add to the chaos, they are also faced with issues of economic hardship, racial division, abuse, identity confusion and numerous other adversarial roadblocks.
Yet, I see this profound group created differently, readied by God to embrace the storms of life with courage and wisdom. We are unquestionably called to help them in their journey, rather than hindering them along the way. So, how can we effectively reach this generation for the sake of the Kingdom?
“The word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born, I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.’” Jeremiah 1:4-5
Our purpose flows from our identity. Therefore, if we fail to understand our identity in Christ, we will inevitably fail to know our purpose.
Many people associate our cultural “identity crisis” with Gen Z. Yet, I would pose another perspective: rather than blaming the young generation for a culture-wide crisis of identity, there may be multiple generations in-crisis, each revolving around our own selfish issues, meanwhile blaming other age groups for these problems and disconnections. In turn, I ask this: how can we help Gen Z when it comes to their identity crisis?
The key to understanding identity is knowing Jesus. It is our responsibility to show Gen Z the real Jesus so that they will fathom their identity in Him. Just as our Creator knew each of us in the womb, as mentioned in Jeremiah, He also knew—and still knows—each of them intimately. Through taking the time to listen to Gen Z, investing in their passions, struggles, and dreams—and by sharing our own testimonies of identity—we have the divine opportunity to know these profound individuals, speaking life into them and affirming what God has called them to do. Jesus adores them, cares for them, and wants the very best for them.
“‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams.’” Acts 2:17
As believers, beyond sharing an identity in Christ, we also share a general purpose—to abide in the presence of the Father, to be conformed to the image of Jesus, to love others, and to live surrendered to the Holy Spirit in our Great Commission calling. When we begin to truly fathom the Father’s love, we can begin to dream His dreams for us.
Verbalizing purpose, callings, goals and dreams is a very moving, action-oriented step. We must be bold in doing this for ourselves and for others. Exhorting Gen Z is more influential than we often realize. In fact, we might very well be the first to ever acknowledge these special gifts and callings from within them. Therefore, let us be audacious enough to encourage them by recognizing their calling, and progressing the purpose in their lives that will ultimately produce lasting fruit and transformation within the world surrounding them.
When God gives us a vision and a purpose, the road to fulfillment is oftentimes a difficult one. Specifically, in the context of following Jesus, we are called to more—more integrity, more holiness, more grace, and more love. In order to fulfill our purpose, we must first determine that we will do what is required to experience its fulfillment. Christ helps us in this through his immense grace and sovereignty.
Just as Paul encouraged the Galatians when he wrote, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up,” we must also commensurately encourage Gen Z. We can urge them to continue fighting the good fight, turning from fleeting moments of satisfaction and false security in the things of this world while simultaneously embracing the things of light and goodness that God has waiting for them along their ministry journey.
“Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.” 1 Corinthians 2:6-7
Wisdom produces clarity in decision-making. When we take the time to ask for wisdom from well-rounded mentors, our perspective is oftentimes refreshed and further developed. Learning from someone who has already experienced many of the ups and downs of life from a Godly lens is invaluable.
Like that of Paul, our insight, courage, and authority can help those members of Gen Z who are hungry for heavenly wisdom and understanding. Chaos demands clarity; given all the chaos that Gen Z has experienced throughout the course of their lives, they absolutely need knowledge of truth and experiential wisdom from those of us who are grounded in the Word of God. We must be gracious leaders for them, setting examples, boldly sharing holy wisdom, and showing them the way to heavenly success.
Instill Courage and Confidence
Oftentimes when we experience courage, it isn’t because we weren’t initially fearful; in fact, some of the most profound memories in our lives may be those of overcoming adversity when we were quite terrified from a human standpoint. Rather, it was likely that when we had placed our confidence in Jesus, we became brave, boldly moving forward in the Spirit.
For Gen Z, there is a deep call for courage in the middle of the storm they are facing. The Lord has prepared this generation for something specific, beautiful, and big. While we cannot fight this fight for them, we can build them up to know that their courage and confidence are rooted in Christ.
“But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned,” Titus 2:1-8
God’s purposes for this generation are unique. I believe that God has a great destiny for them; that Generation Z could be the generation that fulfills the mandate of Jesus to take the gospel to everyone on earth. Those of us in the generations ahead of them, who are leaders in the Kingdom of God, must be intentional about nurturing the unique gifts and callings of Generation Z and the generations to come.
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Amir Hosseini
Dr. William M. Wilson is the fourth president of the globally recognized Oral Roberts University, located in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Dr. Wilson is instrumental in developing Spirit-empowered leaders through whole person education to impact the world. He is known as a global influencer and a dynamic speaker with four decades of executive leadership experience. His book, Generation Z: Born for the Storm is available on Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, Wal-Mart, and other retailers.
Wilson also serves as Global Co-chair of Empowered21, an initiative that unites ministry leaders, scholars, and next-generation voices from the Spirit-empowered movement. Empowered21 will be hosting Amsterdam2023 conference this summer. More information can be found at https://empowered21.com/
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
You can read Rhonda's full article here.
10 Ways to Show Your Pastor They Are Loved