Black Hole for 20 somethings…

Kyle Reed // @kylereed

No, I am not talking about porn (though it is a black hole and trap for anyone. See Proverbs 7) I am talking about the black hole that 20 somethings fall into. Did you know that according to CNN 80% of college graduates move back in with their parents? Wow! I cannot help but notice that specifically 22-29 year old people all into a black hole and are not heard from until they hit 30.

I just cannot help but think something needs to be said or done about this.
Maybe I am wrong and their is no super massive black hole (just the song by muse). What I can say is that I have/am experience the black hole for myself. I am apart of the 80% that moved back into their parents home after graduation. I am apart of the community that calls themselves jobless, and I am apart of the community that is looking for a voice an identity. Why is it that people in their twenties can only do entry level work or internships or be in bands?

I already know the answers from the “grown ups.” I have had this discussion with my dad several times. Us “babies” need experience, we need a time to learn and grow, we need to get our feet wet, etc….I am totally on board with all of this. The problem is there is no one giving us experience. No mentors out there looking for young guys and gals to pour into. No opportunities for youngins to make mistakes and learn from what they did. (please don’t take my “no” as literal. I know there are some people who are getting these chances I just have never met them). I mean the most experience in life a friend of mine is getting right now is being a beer man at Busch Stadium. He is talented and has been looking for a chance to use his talents in the church or for the kingdom of God and he keeps getting shut out. What is up with that?

I am calling you out leaders. We (I am speaking for my age group) need you to mentor us. Where are you at? Who are you pouring into? Why is it that we are the ones that have to constantly ask you to mentor us and then sit there and wait for you to tell us that you are too busy and maybe God could mentor you. I am not claiming to have it together and I am looking for you to help me out and teach me lessons that you have learned.

This post is birthed out of my frustration. Out of the idea that I have a bunch of talented friends who are looking to serve and yet are told you need more experience. This post is the frustration that comes from a guy who has heard God tell him to go forth and make the big ask (no not make the big ass, even though I feel like I am a big ass at times) and trust him only to never get even a response from a leader telling you that they are to busy.

Maybe this is why my generation is disappearing from the church.

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Kyle Reed

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I create websites, conversations, and ideas. Advocate for the 20 somethings. Looking to connect everyone to a mentor. Married to my best friend, Ginny. I like my coffee black and my dog Jack. I currently live in Nashville and work at Sony Music/Provident in Nashville
  • Nikomas

    To be fair, I did offer you an opportunity to lead some Jr. High boys into a relationship with Christ but you were too busy. Offers still there though!

    • klreed

      good point. Thanks for letting the offer still stand. Actually the last three weeks I have had stuff going on at the time of .Dew
      But you are not included in this little rant, you have done your part.

  • tyler

    Good post Kyle, and as you know this particular concept hits close to home for me. I think your most valid point is that young people need (and should desperately seek) mentors. There is a huge discrepancy between what is taught on the college/university level and what actually goes on in a church (I can't say for other work environments). As a response, seasoned leadership should offer mentoring but most of what young people get are watch dogs. Young leaders often screw up, but screwing up is all a part of growing. Unfortunately, screwing up is all too often sending young leaders to their parents' basements w/ a bit of a chip on their shoulder about churches and their leaders.

    Another thing that I believe contributes to this issue (again, in the church) is that young leaders want to blow the lid off of the concept of "beyond reproach" when they see it interfering with authenticity and vulnerability. The problem is, they are trying to do so in an environment in which they have little influence. That kind of thing gets you in to trouble. (as I know you are now fully aware of)

    But not all fingers can be pointed at the older generations. I often feel like younger generations tend to have a heightened sense of entitlement…like the world owes them something for merely existing. Many students out of college are presumptuous about their ability to lead/perform and the kind of influence they should have in the church. Nobody wants to mentor a kid who already 'knows it all.' If you don't approach leadership with humility and openness, they aren't going to see you as coachable.

    Both sides need to work together. The younger should be humble and seek to honor the systems the current leaders have worked hard to establish. The older need to be okay with a young leader being rough around the edges and honor the freshness they can offer.

    • klreed189

      Good stuff tyler.
      I had all kinds of emotions in your response, a little bit of agreement, disagreement, laughter,etc…

      I do think you are right that there needs to be some kind of agreement, there needs to be a way that people are coming together. I just really feel like far to often the leaders are not seeking out young leaders. For example, one great way to do this is take a young leader as your assistant. You give them work to do but also you are mentoring and guiding them along. Taking time to teach them leadership lessons as well as showing them how you lead.
      I have approached at least four or five leaders I respect and really want to learn from, I have asked to be mentored, to work for them, to really do anything to be around them. 3 of them have not responded, the other two tell me that is a great idea, but they don't have time.

      You are right about college students having a chip on their shoulder. I did, but it was quickly knocked off after actually being inside of a ministry. Now I just want to learn from others. I know that I do not have a voice right now because I am young and no one wants to listen to a 23 year old talk about life, but I want to be in a place of influence down the road and I really feel like the best way to get there is to learn from someone who is influencing me now.

  • Nikomas

    I agree with Tyler. I think the best way to get involved in a mentoring relationship is by first volunteering as a servant in the ministry. That does a few things:
    1. shows your dedicated to giving back, not just absorbing
    2. your able to put what you learn into practice
    3. you get to work along side the leader instead of just hearing from the leader

    But unfortunately, as Tyler says, many younger people feel like they are entitled to greater access, greater influence, and greater leadership before they show themselves first ready to learn and serve. I've seen a lot of younger people who get a position with a leadership team (whether it be an internship or a volunteer position) and refuse to learn because that leadership team does ministry different than they would do it. So instead of fulfilling their original desire of being a learner, they try to change they system instead of learning from it. They try to become the mentor, instead of the mentored.

    If the up and coming leader wants to be mentored by a leader, they need to show the leader that they are in it to learn (by serving/volunteering first)…otherwise the leader will be hesitant to make time in their schedule for someone whose intentions they're not sure about.

    Putting yourself in that kind of strategic environment with the mentor is a great place to start.

  • Dave ©

    Great post, Kyle.

    Here's my take, from an almost 35 year old leader in a secular company. You should know that I've never been on paid staff at a church or for any organization that would be remotely considered "Christian". But I've volunteered in churches for years and see what you are talking about. You should also know that this is not a church-specific problem. I see the same issue in the secular world and it isn't just limited to 20somethings. It's true for 30somethings as well. I'd guess that it's true for all ages.

    I have a few suggestions you may want to consider. I'll post them as replies to this comment.

    • Dave ©

      1. Don't ask someone to mentor you. Just start asking them for advice. Start with small, specific questions and gradually start asking harder, more open-ended questions. People love to give advice, especially if they think you'll actually take and apply it. What they don't want is for you to waste their time. Start asking questions. Make sure you're really listening. Before you know it, that person will be mentoring you even though it may never be called a mentoring relationship.

    • Dave ©

      2. Be persistent. When I was in junior high school, this other kid really wanted to be my friend. I didn't really want to be his because "he wasn't cool" (presumably like me…ha!). He just kept coming over to my house (uninvited), walking to school with me and signing up for all the same things I did, whether it was classes or sports or youth group. Eventually, I really started liking the guy and we became best friends. Combine this with # 1 and the same can occur for you and your would-be mentors.

    • Dave ©

      3. Create a compelling vision that benefits the to-be mentor. Let's face it. People always want to know what's in it for them. If you go to someone and say, "Hey, I have this great idea but I just don't know how to get it off the ground. Got any thoughts?", that person is going to be hooked as long as it's an area within their own interest and, of course, assuming that it really is a great idea. And if it's not in their area of interest, you probably are targeting the wrong person anyway.

    • Dave ©

      4. Don't underestimate your own influence. I've seen your posts on Ragamuffin a lot but I never clicked on your link to see what you are about until yesterday. Yet even though I never clicked on your link, many of your posts stood out to me as thoughtful, thought-provoking and not purely about yourself (pretty rare these days, IMO). What does that have to do with mentoring? Remember to turn the table around and pour into others. You just might find that to be one of the best ways to grow your own leadership skills and experience. You might also be surprised at how many older, wiser people you attract to yourself…older, wiser people who will intentionally or unintentionally start mentoring you.

      • klreed189

        Honestly that is really what I want to be about. I want to learn and gain knowledge about stuff so that I can share that with others. I am huge on sharing resources with people and want to pour into as many people as I can. For me I know that I am far from where I need to be and I see guys that are doing things that I want to do and setting an example that I want to be like..this is where and what I want to be and do. Thanks for the encouragement.

    • Dave ©

      Lastly, not sure what you are looking for specifically but if you want to ask me some questions, I'd be happy to answer what I can. You have my email address.

      • klreed189

        Dude, I really appreciated this. I really needed to hear this. Thanks for the encouragement.
        Honestly I am going to chew some on some of these and probably email you soon with some follow up questions. Thanks once again loved it.

  • Jason Krohn

    Great post Kyle. We discuss this at TheBOD all the time.

    I have to back up Dave on point #4. I found myself in your position only three or four years ago… wondering how to leverage my seemingly small amount of influence for the Kingdom.

    I've found that no matter what area I'm in I can always pour into those that are 2-3 years younger than I. That may sound insignificant, but they are you in three years, and they'll be looking for the same thing you are now.

    My addition, or #5 might be this:

    Be willing to go "all in." I know that spiritually speaking this is really difficult, but a great leader is looking for those who will sacrifice everything to be aligined under something great.

    This has been my largest challenge lately.

    Does God really expect everything? I think so. Challenging myself and submitting myself to this is really hard and in all honesty I know I'm not even close. But as I let go of things God is opening up areas of influence and growing my faith in His process.

    Great heart man… pursue and persevere

    • klreed189

      I am totally with you, this has been my mission for a long time now. I want to assist people as much as I can. Here is my struggle though…
      I am seeing more and more that guys my age and a couple years younger are looking for guys that are older to mentor them. I have seen that someone my age could say something insightful and then someone 35 can say the same thing and people gravitate to the older person. I think that is just natural, because they have had more life experience and are not in the same age group. But this does not stop me from trying to be available and open to discussion. I think I can help with mentoring in ways little ways that do not seem obvious, but are very intentional on my part.
      thanks for the encouragement.