I was reading my friend Chris’ blog, and he had a list of five songs that “defined” his life. It made me think of this post I had written in March of 2005, so I’m reposting it again because I’m lazy. The original post was in response to a post from a twenty-something pup who listed his music and it was the music of HIS generation.

It got me thinking about the music of my life, music that would define who I am and I found that a very difficult task. Of course a life is not “defined” by music, but the music is a reflection and description of how we perceive ourselves at the moment – what experiences we are going through now, and in the past, and how those experiences impact our awareness of who we are or want to be.

The lists, both his and mine, also got me thinking about what, and who, “defines” a generation. I didn’t recognize many of the artists or songs listed on his list, or those of his 20-something year old readers. And that is the way it should be. Every generation has their own music that they can call their own. But looking at the lists I couldn’t tell what defines his generation, at least what they perceive as defining them. Does a generation know at the time that a particular incident or event will impact and change them into who they will become years from now? Or do we only know what influenced us 25, 30 years down the road? Take my generation for instance.

Were we aware, whether we were directly involved or not, that our generation would be impacted by events such as the assassinations of John Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King? Did we know how we would be changed and “defined” by the Viet Nam War and the anti-war movement, hippies, Timothy Leary and LSD, the Civil Rights movement, Russia and the Cold War, Woodstock, The Beatles invasion, the Kent State shootings, and the first human landing on the moon?

And how does the preceding generation influence the next generation? Is the influence a positive one, or a negative one that spurs individuals on to change? On his blog Jeff said, “I think what will define my generation is a growing distrust for those currently in charge. We are seeing mistakes, scandals, and misdirected passions and are growing uneasy. I feel that this generation feels that it is its responsibility to “clean up the mess” that prior generations have made. There is a lot of idealism and I think a significant paradigm shift is on its way with regards to society, ministry, and the world as a whole.”

The old saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” is so true. My generation had a distrust of those in charge. We saw the mistakes, scandals, and misdirected passions. We were very idealistic in our thinking and we were out to change the world. But now we are the ones in charge and I don’t see the problems being fixed, the issues being addressed. In fact, I think we are passing on more “messes” than was left to us. I’m not going into all that here because this post is about what we think defines our generations and us.

I pray that Jeff is correct when he talks about “a significant paradigm shift is on the way,” and that changes will be made in society, ministry, and the world. But as with all generations, the paradigm shift has got to begin in individual hearts. And that can only take place through a changed heart brought on by the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

It will be interesting to see how this television/media generation will develop, and what kinds of leaders they will become. But from the ones I know, or have contact with, I’m encouraged. Maybe it’s this generation that will break the cycle of greed and corruption and the focus on “self,” and become truly defined as the post-modern generation.

His peace be on you.