It has hit me recently, specifically in light of the recent election, that there is significant social pressure from the world on my generation. I am not sitting here saying that I am outside of these points. I am an imperfect, sinful human. But there are some things that are said about our generation that are simply inadequate.
Here are some things that you should know:
1. You are not defined by the term, “Millennial.”
You are not defined by “Generation Me,” which claims that you are characterized by narcissism and entitlement.
You are not defined by the “Peter Pan Generation,” which claims that you are delaying your emergence into adulthood.
We have heard it over and over. From our parents, our professors, and our mentors. “Oh boy, you millennials…where has your generation gone to.” “You are all self-obsessed and unmotivated.”
First, these are earthly terms. As a Christian, you are automatically not defined by them. That is because you are defined by things out of this world. In God’s eyes, you are not just a millennial. You are a child of the Father Almighty. If His light is in you, you are strong, courageous, and fearless. You are a visionary. You strive to change the world. Don’t let earthly status quo’s discourage you from striving to change the world. Do not become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Do not let these standards reign over your life.
2. You are not supposed to be liked by this world.
It is said many times in scripture. In fact, it goes so far to say that if you are liked by this world, you are not of God.
“Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.” -1 John 3:13
“You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” – James 4:4
“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:19
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” – John 15:18
Jesus was one of the most oppressed individuals on the planet. And he was the brightest light of hope that breached the earth. Jesus’ disciples were looked down upon and rejected by society. Yet, they pressed on and taught the Gospel to the nations; and, ultimately, changed the world. Noah was accused of being a lunatic for building the arc. Yet, he remained obedient to God and and His faithfulness impacted the rest of the world.
“To be right with God has often meant to be in trouble with men.” A.W. Tozer
If you are a believer in God, you will be oppressed. You will be persecuted for your faith.
So if you are being oppressed, if you are looked down upon, if you get weird looks when you pray, continue being a servant for God. Continue being radical. Do not let hurtful words deter your walk. Keep shining and being a light. You are serving like the biggest game-changers in the world. And with God on your side, you will succeed.
3. Do not have fear of failure. Commit your life plans to Him, and they will succeed.
One of the biggest things I see my generation struggle with is the fear of failure. It can be the fear of not finding a job out of college, starting a business, or creating a family.
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” – Proverbs 16:3.
“Be strong and very courageous. Do not turn from the law to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go…meditate on the Book of the Law day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” – Joshua 1:7-9
“The lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs and will strengthen your frame…if you keep your feet from doing as you please and if you honor me by not going your own way and not doing as you please.” – Isaiah 58
The key in these passages of being successful is obedience. God is not saying that He will be obedient to your wishes and dreams. He is saying that because you striving after His heart, you will be a servant for His will. Thus, you will strive to live out His plan for your life. As a consequence, you will strive to be obedient to His commandments and live a righteous, pure life. You will choose love over hate. You will choose patience over anger. These small steps are obedience. And if God has called you to a plan, and you are obedient, He will not fail you. He will be faithful. And you do not have to be afraid.
What does this look like in your life? This means that you commit every area of your life to His will; to furthering His kingdom. You take the leaps of faith that unbelievers are too afraid to do, because they are hoping on chance or luck. But you, as a believer, are hoping on the proven consistency of the Lord your God who has proved himself faithful throughout the existence of the earth. Pick up your Bible and see for yourself.
We have this fear because there is social pressure. But the trick to escaping this world is that you do not fall to that social pressure. You are called above it.
4. You are not God’s servant if you are more passionate about your success than God’s kingdom.
Your priorities show your heart’s intent.
Are you as eager about your Creator as your are about your career? Do you strive after Him day after day? Or do you sideline Him to be a benchwarmer that you address when you need Him and all other lifelines have failed? (because, inevitably, they will fail).
I can be honest with you and tell you that this is one of the biggest battles I face. And I know that I’m not the only one. Our society has placed so much social pressure on getting ahead. On landing that perfect job. If you are a driven, independent, perfectionist like me, it is addicting to strive for professional success. You are intrinsically motivated to get ahead and be the best. But, there needs to be a mind shift.
Your passion and motivation is a gift. Rather than using it to further your name, use it to lead teams in the name of Jesus. Use it to evangelize, start projects, and reach out. Use it to make an eternal difference in the kingdom. In the end, your degree is a paper that will burn. Your office building will crumble. What will you have left that has made an eternal difference? Friends of my generation, this is what your life needs to be about.
You are given plentiful gifts and talents by your master. Are you using them for your aim? To make your name higher? Or are you working for His kingdom?
5. God calls you to show love in a world of hate.
Are you emitting unconditional love and care in a world where everyone seems to be full of hate?
Are you serving those who stand against you, when your peers are reaching for self-gratification?
Are you remaining nonjudgmental toward your lesbian, gay, and transgender communities?
We are not above anyone else, and it’s time that our generation of Christians start acting like it.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? ” – Matthew 7:3-5
The Take Away:
If you are finding approval and feel that you fit along with this world, something is not consistent; you need to examine your heart. Determine whether you are truly striving after God or after man’s approval. To check this, ask yourself: Am I waking up every day, making myself look good, choosing stylish clothes, so my colleagues will like me? Or, am I waking up as a servant of God and asking Him to have His way with me? I will tell you this, friends: one brings eternal satisfaction; joy, peace, and hope. And one brings inevitable failure, hopelessness, depression, and emptiness. Be kind to yourself and don’t choose that path.
“The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” – 1 John 2:17