A while back, I pointed out how the relentless pampering of an older generation has cultured Millennials. Soon after, we mulled over the lack of opportunities to spend our inherited greatness. Now we have a group of young people who feel that they’ve wasted their potential. An environment of coddling with no opportunities is a cruel trick.
But not as cruel as the trick you play on yourself by going to college.
Higher ed is what they tell every Millennial to do after graduating high school, yet no one explains how this is going to help. As far as we know, it’s a magical band-aid.
Sooner of later, you find yourself disappointed for toiling those four years, expecting a significant job, with benefits, and a $40K annual return, yet only experiencing cold-calls and shoulder shrugs. It turns out, that college degree is not as magical as you thought.
The one thing I would tell college students before they packed their bags for school…
If you don’t have an end, you’re wasting a significant portion of the most important years of your life, and many Millennials are, by drooling over college degrees as the end goal of their purpose and life.
Too many bright, young people with potential are getting bogged down with useless (and expensive) education that you can learn from a $10 book on Amazon, while gaining experience in the field. There are a few fields out there that require an undergrad, but it’s often higher education that employers are looking for now, and even a Master’s degree will not a guarantee you a job in this economy. Of course, to get a Master’s degree in anything means you already have a plan that you are following. But many college students don’t have a plan. They have college, their magical band-aid in a world gone downhill. Don’t be that person.
Going to an expensive college hoping a B.A. will be your redeemer will not better your situation in life or end AIDS in Africa like you had hoped. Only ideas running through the minds of driven people will get close to that. And when driven people with crazy ideas stay in love with Jesus and God’s mission, things get really exciting. So if college doesn’t serve an end in mind, you will have wasted four years chasing something that was only slowing down God’s plan for your life. Higher education is a wonderful tool, but only when you know where you’re going. And there isn’t a curriculum for that; prayer and supplication must bring it to life (Phi. 4:6).
The first post was a wake up call. I know you all like it more when I write inspiring posts about Millennials—after all, I am one, and at a DOB of 1981, I barely made it!—but I can’t help noticing a bad trend emerging from those of us who are called to speak into the lives of Millennials.
The world isn’t always fair. There are not always opportunities open for us to waltz into, and this has caused many to feel ripped off. It’s true for college leaders, as well. We love that you are the promised generation! We have also placed so much hope in you, that we are sometimes quick to disregard the entire picture, that circumstances do not always turn out ideal, and in ignoring reality, we sometimes explain away a basic understanding that life is unromantic. You are given great gifts, talents, and education, only to find that life has given you the shaft.
But God has plenty of opportunity for you in his mission.
While you may not get a high-paying job with benefits right out of college, your calling in life will always concern being on God’s mission to make disciples of the nations and your city. I want to propose a biblical worldview of calling.
You have not been seasoned for this moment to make much of yourself and career, but to put God’s eternal purposes on display. God is out to renew creation, from the material nature of the environment, to structures, cultures, and societies. And of course, he is in the process of renewing and restoring a broken group of humanity for his own glory. Approach life differently.
That’s redemption. It means your life is not wasted. It means God is not ignoring you. It means there is a plan. And it means you are in the middle of it, albeit, one larger than yourself. This is what Peter was referring to when saying that “As each one has received a special gift, use it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” ( 1 Peter 4:10-11). Even if you’re stuck in a dead-end job; the glorious mission of God is always available to you in the form of servanthood, for in the serving of others, you loosen the fragrance of Jesus.
We were made for more.
When generational experts, Neil Howe and William Strauss, wrote their defining book on Millennials, they highlighted our generation’s pros and cons, namely, that we had a desire to achieve greatness, and our parent’s generation was the driving force behind this.
Some mothers will recall the tragic crime in September 1982, when “a cyanide-tainted Tylenol triggered an October wave of parental panic over trick-or-treating” (Howe and Strauss, 43). On its heels was a “national hysteria over the sexual abuse of toddlers,” an immediate distaste for classic 80’s horror flicks victimizing children, replaced with a flood of sitcoms portraying kids as the heroes. While parents filtered the family television, American school teachers experienced a newfound pressure to raise better kids in the classroom. And the trend continued.
By the time we reached grade school, we had already adopted a skip in our step (or perhaps a leap in our step). And why not? We were being preened to take over the world by an earlier generation that wanted to leave a better legacy. We evolved from the latchkey kids of our ancestors to kids inheriting all the keys on the latch.
Millennials are unlike any generation that has gone before. And because of this, there is an overwhelming pressure to succeed. Unfortunately, the opportunities available to an aspiring millennial are underwhelming enough to damper the passion of the most resolute college grad. Our parents didn’t just leave us with a different outlook on life, they left us with a different life. Look no farther than a broken economy, steep living prices, and a job famine. It’s as if someone taught us how to fish in the middle of the Sahara. The world’s greatest generation, pampered with hopeful expectations, and sheltered from the grim truth of everything our parents never wanted us to experience. How do we handle this? Can we take advantage of the momentum we’ve been given?
It’s simple math, really; hurting people plus good intentions makes for a lot of well-intended failure.
You can’t resolve to do better when your deepest intentions are fallen. That’s why people like the Apostle Paul went straight for our wicked hearts by calling out humanity as utterly in need of a divine Savior (Romans 3:10-28).
Yet, I want to grow; it feels a bit nonsensical to sit on my rear and claim “fallen sinner” while the world falls apart with me in it. The beauty of being saved by grace is that we get to walk in the very grace that changes our hard hearts.
“Let go and let God.”
What a silly statement. God grasps us that he may be grasped by us; he saves us that we might experience our salvation; he takes the wheel, then tells us to put the car in gear. We have a Dad who wants to do life with us.
There is still value to approaching 2012 with a desire to move forward; to mature in our thinking, ambitions, spirituality, mission. But instead of resolving to be better people, or do better things,
This was a paradigm shift for me; it’s so simple, as to be nearly laughable. But the powerful truth of the Christian gospel is that we grow by being transformed in Jesus, not by trying to attain him. And oh, how we easily blur those lines! This is akin to me washing the dishes out of love for my wife, and after letting the years of routine sink in, begin to wash the dishes to prove to her that I’m worth loving. How backwards we have seen God’s love!
I even find my backwards love affecting the day-to-day rhythms of my spirituality.
e.g., Bible reading.
Adorn, our college/young adult gathering on Friday nights, just started a through-the-Bible-in-a-year excursion—which can be interacted with by searching the hashtag, #1yearBible, on Twitter—and even in such a rich pool of Word-driven community, lingers the same danger to revert back to trite religiosity.
How fascinating, and utterly disappointing, that the very things I cultivate to be in relationship to Christ can be turned into an idol against him?
Yes, even the Bible.
So, how do we treat idols? We take them captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). I often battle the urge to get my Bible reading “out of the way,” by blasting through verses without paying much attention. Taking thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ in this situation would mean choosing to sit on a particular passage, instead of trying to reach my Scriptural “quota.” I may choose to meditate on a particular verse that stands out to me until I fall at the feet of Jesus in reverence and awe.
It’s going to look different for all of us, but for all of us it will come. January marks all that we’ve tossed away the prior year, with its baggage, to set our record straight in the pursuit of significance. But you and I know, significance is hard to come by.
Jesus, who signifies true purpose, unyielding love, and relentless grace, stands at the door and knocks.