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Redbook quotes former Seventeen Editor-in-Chief Ann Shoket as saying, "I don't find any of those millennials true or interesting at all. They're earnest, focused, and dedicated, and innovative." Even if the next generation no longer thinks of themselves as millenials, I have found this statement true of my students and advisees.
SPU Assistant Professor of Classics
It’s well past five o’clock. The building is nearly empty. I gulp the last lukewarm sip of coffee. Back in the office my desk is littered with advising sheets, meeting agendas, ungraded essays, and an inbox of emails demanding immediate attention.
I should be exhausted but I’m not — not really. I feel energized, invigorated, and I say so to the students in the circle. We just finished a discussion of three of their creative nonfiction pieces. Each writer rendered, at least once, an image or line or whole scene that hit the sweet spot — that felt simultaneously surprising yet inevitable, as Aristotle put it. And the richness of the work was met with an unusual depth of insight from the rest of the group. We were firing on all cylinders.
This wasn’t the first time it happened, and it won’t be the last.
I don’t know about their peers around the country, but insofar as it’s represented by 18 students in northern Indiana on a rainy October afternoon … this generation is doing just fine. They read, they journal, they seek out nature; they’re growing in the faith and invested in community. They make the same mistakes every generation makes, if in their own ways. And they bring it all to bear on their emerging contributions to The Great Conversation. There’s no place I’d rather be than here, playing a small role in this leg of their journey.
Daniel Bowman Jr., SPU MFA ’11,
Associate Professor of English, Taylor University
Passion. I am inspired by their passion to remake the world into the kingdom of God. I have the privilege of walking alongside some amazing teenagers and millennials, both in my teaching here at SPU and in my role as executive director of The Kindlings, an arts and faith nonprofit that draws together creative thought leaders into intentional conversation and relationship.
I see my students regularly living out the call of Micah 6:8 — “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” — on the streets with Seattle’s homeless population; in their work tutoring at underserved schools; and in using their artistic gifts to provoke, inspire, and uplift the truth of God’s healing power, whether in music, murals, culinary outreach to the malnourished, or building new homes in barrios and slums.
Psalm 73 gives voice to the frustration, anger, and disappointment of a world that “makes violence a necklace,” where people with “sleek bodies” seem to acquire power for their own selfish ends. But I see a new generation arising that is taking the challenge of a broken world and turning a minor diminished key into a major refrain, That refrain is ascending and resolving into passionate action to challenge the brokenness of Psalm 73 in the redeeming power of Jesus. My students humble me every day with their passion. They are my teachers and I still have a lot to learn.
Jeffrey F. Keuss
Director, SPU University Scholars Program
The thing that inspires me most about the next generation is the rapidly growing percentage of kids who are being home-schooled and are receiving a customized education from the adults who love and know them better than anyone else.
Gone are the days of being labeled the “unsocialized kids.” Due to a growing number of amazing home-school programs and curricula and the increasingly alarming state of public schools, thousands of families are turning to home schooling and the sheer number of resources and communities available to home-schoolers ensures that no one has to travel the journey alone.
Classical education, specifically, is making a huge comeback, and moms and dads are redeeming their own education while training their kids in the arts of logic and eloquence. I have great hope that a new generation of loving, dedicated public servants and honest political leaders will rise up from this group of kids. God has surprised me by changing my attitude regarding home schooling and I am inspired every day by the potential I see as I learn alongside my own kids and other home-schooling families.
Christy Conant ’02
I am inspired by the opportunity this and the future generation of SPU students have to make good on the promises, the hopes, the aspirations, and the convictions of equity, access, and opportunity for all. They can and will pick up the mantle of leadership equipped with the skills, knowledge, and experience with tolerance, dignity, and respect to embrace different to minister — meeting the needs of individuals wherever they are in life’s journey.
Greg Firn EdD ’02
The creativity of young minds is inspiring. It spurs us on in our own thinking.
Greg and Dawn Zook
I feel great hope as I work with student leaders of this rising generation, in part because of their goal of authenticity. They desire to make their commitments matter, and to make them sustainable. I am surprised and deeply affected by their desire to do something that isn’t self-promoting, but that promotes a better future.
First Free Methodist Church Pastor for the Set Free Movement
Working with youth who have been incarcerated, we witness them going through extremely challenging ordeals. Yet in the midst of their hardship, we see their faith, strength, and perseverance, and also their kindness and generosity. Some young men have offered me their hard-earned snacks — items such as chips and candy that are very easy for me to take for granted, but to those in detention, it is worth gold. One young man, upon seeing his hallmate’s disappointment regarding a broken CD player, said with genuine compassion, “Don’t worry. I’ll buy you a new one.” Witnessing this type of kindheartedness gives me much hope for our young people.
Chaplain and Program Director, King County Youth Chaplaincy
I have great hope because adolescents are searching, and when they meet Jesus their lives change dramatically for the best. I’ve been with Young Life 23 years and I continue to see kids impacted by their new relationship with Christ. And some of these kids have lived a very tough life. I’m also encouraged that each year new staff members in their early 20s join us, and they come with the same passion and commitment that our veteran staff exemplify. I know kids today are facing difficult issues and great pressure. But I have high hopes for the future as long as we continue to share our faith and care about discipleship.
Denny Rydberg ’67, president, Young Life
Working at SPU, I come across many amazing stories about things students are doing inside and outside the classroom. Their ability to use what they learn here to make a difference in this world is truly inspiring. My prayer is that they will never lose that sense of hope and compassion, and that they will continue to use their talents for the good of the communities they live in.
I’m continually amazed by the level of investment members of the next generation have in social justice. So many have a genuine compassion for the marginalized. Whether our young people are (yet) followers of Jesus or not, they seem to intuitively understand and, often at no mean cost to themselves, act on Jesus’ words: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me” (Matthew 25:35–36). This both inspires and convicts me.
Mountlake Terrace, Washington
I’m always inspired to see people younger than me who don’t just do nice things, but who also take the Great Commission seriously. My nephew, a recent SPU grad, has inspired me that way. He’s preparing to become a military chaplain, and I love hearing his stories of lives changed for Jesus Christ.
Bainbridge Island, Washington
When I think of the “next generation,” I think of my 3-year-old daughter. She is being raised in a world of endless possibilities. Our generation has worked hard and continues to work hard for equality. I can’t wait to see who she chooses to become, with fewer limitations than were placed on her grandmothers (or even her mom!).
BeckyJo Bourgeois ’07
What inspires you about the next generation? Tell us and read what others have said.
You can also answer the new question for the Winter 2016 issue.