Bridging the Generation Gap:: Embracing Mentorship

Joy Eggerichs

Generation X. Baby boomers. The Greatest Generation. Millennials. The differences between our generations are subtle, yet simultaneously profound. With each new cultural shift, comes new perspectives of life, work, and faith, and one 4word woman wants to tap into those differences. Joy Eggerichs has spent several years developing The Illumination Project- a study designed to bring the generations together in mutual understanding, respect, and the sharing of godly wisdom.

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4word: Can you describe The Illumination Project (TIP) to our readers?

Joy: The Illumination Project is a 6 week, small group study designed ideally for 6 people. For those who are familiar with small groups, they are often done in the church with like people- just women, just men, all singles, all marrieds, etc. I wanted to do something different. TIP is meant to be a little bit of the Love and Respect material, designed to reach my generation.

I’ve noticed when we segregate ourselves, we don’t grow as much as when we interact with people in different life stages. We can all learn from each other. I want people in different life stages together in the same room, reading the same material and learning from each other.

I talked to older people, telling them that my generation wants to learn from them. The older people felt that they couldn’t be a mentor because they don’t have it all together. I often tell them that my generation wants community and they want authenticity.

4word: Where did the inspiration for TIP come from?

Joy: At Love and Respect Marriage Conferences, I often hear people say “I wish I knew then what I know now.” This statement led me to ask myself,  “How can I create a way for my generation to learn it?”

I began planning and thinking. I asked, “How can I service as many people as possible?” I think that small group studies are the most conducive to my generation and the church.

TIP is about learning from people who are asking the questions that my generation wants to know, or will wish they had known 20 years from now. It’s a multi-faceted study, including videos filmed with a live audience, journal keeping, personal reflection questions and discussion.

4word: How does TIP help steer the conversation between generations?

Joy: I start the conversation in the example with my dad, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. He has authored several relationship books, including Love and Respect.

I’m someone who’s not afraid to speak my mind. One session is me pushing back on my dad for content that is confusing or stumbling to my generation. No matter what the age, relationships and ideas about God impact all of us.

I’ve never met someone who said "I’ve never thought about relationships" or “I’ve never thought about God before.” My dad and I share our stories and that helps people share their own stories. The way my dad and I communicate with each other, in a conversational style rather than a lecture, sets the example for the groups.

4word: Why is mentorship and wisdom so important to you?

Joy: It’s been a 5 year journey with Love and Respect Now- I wanted to help my generation. I’ve asked a lot of questions, listened, and observed. On my website, people ask me relationship questions and if I don’t know the answer, I have to dig- normally asking my mom or dad.

Answering a stranger’s questions on the internet is always difficult for me because I don’t know all the details. I noticed a theme when I kept saying “Seek older, wiser counsel from someone who knows you and loves you.” That’s when I started realizing that our generation was turning to the internet for answers, rather than that older farm mentality of turning to Mom, Dad, aunts, uncles, etc.

That’s why our generation wants authentic community. We don’t have the older mentor relationships in our life. There is wisdom in submitting to people who have gone before and there is freedom in doing that.

I want to talk to mentors- I want that older, wiser, council and I also have a heart for speaking to both generations because it’s what the church is meant to be.

4word: What can both mentees and mentors gain from such a relationship?

Joy: Both see the value as they impact the other’s life.

The Barna research shows that when relationships are established, there’s a mutual feeling of being needed. It’s easy for older people to make off-handed comments about younger people and vice versa because they are not in relationship together. If you’re prayerful about these relationships and make yourself vulnerable, there’s not much that can go wrong. Two good-willed people entering into relationship will encourage and spur each other on - iron sharpens iron. It leads to and creates accountability. I like to look at Acts 8 as an example.

4word: What do you think prevents young people from seeking godly wisdom, counsel and mentorship?

Joy: I think a lot of people have been hurt from a comment or from the church. I encourage younger people to assume goodwill. We have to stop and say “Yeah that may have hurt, but what was the motivation?” There’s woundedness and fear of being judged. We have to stop and ask “What does Scripture say?” If we know we’re trying to follow God and someone judges you, we have to keep moving forward.

On the other extreme, people have a glorified independence- we think we know better. The ability to be so autonomous makes us think we don’t need mentorship. However, there is so much joy and freedom that comes from letting people speak into our lives.

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Do you feel called to be a mentor? Are you looking for a mentor? The 4word Mentor Program is currently accepting applications for the upcoming fall session. Visit the Mentor Program website today and submit your online application by September 2, 2016!

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Joy Eggerichs is the director and creator of Love and Respect Now, focusing on 18-35 year olds. Her passion is to help her generation navigate the complicated world of relationships. Joy holds a BA in Communication studies from Westmont College and has taken Master’s level courses from Western Seminary and Regent College. She also has an unashamed love for unicorns.