As a local church pastor, the number one question that I receive from people is not theological or philosophical in nature. Indeed, it’s just one of sheer exasperation, with perhaps a touch of humor. And it goes something like this: “What in the world is wrong with the Millennial Generation?!” Indeed, the generations previous to ours (though not perfect by any stretch of the imagination) have some real deal concerns about our generation’s poor work ethic, emotional patterns of thinking, and the perceived flightiness that seems to characterize our generation. And as a Millennial, I don’t know if I have any good answers to the questions that plague our generation, but to all my fellow Millennials out there (i.e. those of you born from 1981-1996), let me offer to all of us three friendly and needed reminders:
- True Loyalty Matters. For all of us in the Millennial Generation, we grew up in a culture and society with a ton of options. I mean just go to the grocery store and walk down the bread aisle. Think about it. We have a whole aisle simply devoted to bread…all kinds of bread…white or wheat or multi-grain…this brand or that brand…this size vs. that size. Indeed, our plethora of options span every conceivable product and business out there. We have options galore when it comes to grocery stores, barber shops, gas stations, internet providers, etc. And though I’m glad for these options, and grateful for these options, and not against these options, I wonder if all of these options have contributed to our perceived flightiness and lack of loyalty as a generation. That is to say, if we don’t like one brand of bread, we switch to another. If we don’t like how this barber cut our hair, we simply cut him loose (pun intended) and try another barber shop. Or if we don’t like prices at this gas station, we simply go to another gas station. Get my drift? Again, I’m not against having options, or being a smart shopper, nor am I against the American capitalistic system, but perhaps this type of thinking bleeds into how we treat our families, jobs, and churches? Yeah, it’s one thing to just pack up house and switch bread brands or internet providers, but it seems like us Millennials are doing the same type of thing with the things that really matter. You know, my fellow Millennials, there is something to be said about loyalty and sticking with your family, job, and church even when the newness fades. I wonder, have we been chasing after ethereal perfection in our families, jobs, and churches simply out of a bad habit that we’ve developed in other areas of life? In the end, I believe that we need to redevelop ourselves and become a Generation of Loyalty – even when it’s hard, even when it’s not fun, even when the itch to try something new invades – we need to be loyal. Because things like devotion, faithfulness, and loyalty really do matter.
- Thinking Accurately Matters. Notice I say thinking ACCURATELY matters. Because one thing is for sure, us Millennials do a lot of thinking, but it seems to be so emotionally based. It is nearly ridiculous how angry (or depressed) we can get at the drop of a hat. Sure, I’m not anti-emotions, or anti-passion, or anti-feelings, but for goodness sake, perhaps we are a bit emotionally extreme? Perhaps we’ve substituted accurate thinking for heart passion? Maybe we need both accurate thinking and passionate hearts? Perhaps we need to read the whole news article instead of just looking at the headline and picture and then shooting off our thoughts? Perhaps we need to research for ourselves, instead of having things spoon-fed to us through talking heads? Perhaps we need to reign in our emotions and ask more questions instead of making dogmatic statements all the time? Perhaps we’ve traded in our minds, and healthy thinking patterns, just so we can feel something deeper and stronger and longer? In the end, I think we need to rebrand ourselves and become a Generation of Thinkers – people who think with our heads, as well as our hearts.
- Hard Work Matters. Man alive, just talk with any employer who is part of the previous generations, and they will first laugh, and then shake their heads at our work ethic as a generation. We just can’t seem to stomach hard work anymore. We’re clock watches, and as soon as it’s 4:45 PM, we have our bags packed and we’re ready to hit the door. Now, I know, that doesn’t describe every single person in this generation, but for many of us, this is true. Why do we have such a strange aversion to working hard? You know, hard work never really killed anyone, but we sure act like it will! Yes, there is such a thing as balance. Surely, we want to work hard and rest hard. Yes, we want to put in our time, but not at the expense of our families. But, hear me, I fear that for a vast majority of us Millennials, we’re just a little bit lazy. Fellow Millennials, let’s not crash all of the hard work of previous generations, just because we crave a little bit more time off and relaxation. Yes, work hard and play hard, but my goodness, work hard – give a little more – and don’t expect a high five and smiley emoji every time you do the right thing. Because, in the end, perhaps we need to redefine ourselves and become a Generation of Workers – hard workers who build on the hard work of the past.
So, there you have it. Just a few thoughts to Millennials from a Millennial. Think through these items. Throw out the bad and incorporate the good. I’m definitely not trying to stir the pot as I write this blog; I’m just throwing out some thoughts…