Dear Christian Millennial,
I love you. I believe in you. You are not just our future, you are our present. A movement is happening and you are spear heading it. You have become a label, a cliche, a point of buzzed memes, and you have been stereotyped. But I love you and I believe in you. There are a lot of uncertainties in the world at this point in history, but I am optimistic about our future. The world is yours to steward and I don't despise you.
I am a 40 something year old Lead Pastor, married, and have four kids. I am creative and an entrepreneur, so I feel like I get you in many ways, probably due to the fact that I work so closely with many of you now and have been a youth pastor to many of you in the last two decades. I want to do what I have done most of my life: I want to encourage you and lead you. I want to do that today by giving you a few things to focus on. I know we don't need another open letter or another blog about Millennials. I know you hate labels and I too am sick of all the negative attention your generation receives, but if you give me a few moments I want to invest in you.
1. Be Secure
Identity is so important to you. Like being true to yourself and searching your heart, these things are incredibly valuable to you. The likes on your latest snap selfie does not determine your worth. Since this is a letter to Christian Millennials, my encouragement to you is to yield yourself to your identity in Christ. Christianity is not simply your religion, it’s your identity. You are more valuable than you will ever know. When you discover His value for you, you will see that it dwarfs your tiny view of your personal worth.
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. -Colossians 3:3
2. Be Solid
Be a person of conviction. A person of long term conviction. Be set apart. Be sanctified. Live sacrificial and not superficial to your faith. Don't be so swayed by emotions or moments. Remember the YOLO thing…It was trendy for a reason. As you have grown up you have realized that living for the moment and living in the moment are totally different. Be smart and exercise self-control. Don’t live for the moment, live for an eternal reward. Develop an enduring work ethic with conviction!
"Living for the moment and living in the moment are totally different."
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. -1 Corinthians 15:58
3. Be Supportive
I watched some of you grow up in church and a lot of you are mad at the Church. I understand. There is a lot to be angry about, but your anger won't fix the Church. Your love will. Don't be so sarcastic and cynical. It’s not working. Be devoted to Christ’s Church. If you will love the Church like Jesus loves the Church, pray for the Church and commit to the Church as much as Jesus commits to the Church, it will be the Church that you can believe in. Be the Church. Be truly faithful to church, serve your church, raise your kids in the Church. The Church has a lot to offer you and you have a lot to offer her.
"There is a lot to be angry about, but your anger won't fix the Church."
Be devoted to one another in love. -Romans 12:10
4. Be Significant….Now!
I love your drive and desire for significance. I love that you want to matter. In order to matter you must become effective, and that takes time. Overnight significance is a myth. It’s going to take a lifetime of hard work. You matter and you will be significant, so stay the course. Focus on significance in the small and the mundane. Be significant in your commitments. Be consistent and significance will follow!
I love you. I believe in you.
There is a guy I see at the gym most days. He is probably in his 60’s, doesn't smile much, nor does he talk to other gym goers. I imagine him as a man that has worked hard his entire life. He is rugged and strong. Often times I see him on the bike or at the arm curl machine grinding out his workout. What fascinates me most about this man is that he does not have the typical attire of a gym goer. He wears athletic shoes, a trucker hat, a t-shirt, and jeans. Yes, he exercises every day in jeans. He works out hard wearing Wranglers with a long wallet sticking out of his back pocket. I also don’t imagine that he drinks Starbucks and is probably more likely to drink the canned Folders that is brewed for free at the gym. He doesn't have the look but he has the lifestyle. He shows up.
There are these ladies that frequent the Starbucks where I spend my Tuesday mornings. They order a skinny vanilla late and wear t-shirts, yoga pants, Nike caps, and athletic shoes along with pristine makeup. Their makeup looks so untouched most likely because they aren’t working out. They have the look, but they don't have the lifestyle. It's just fashionable.
I feel like this is how a lot of people are. They have the look but they don't have the lifestyle. Rather than focussing on the work, they focus on the look. In the highlight reel of the digital age, we show people the best moments of our lives. We give them our fashion, but do we backup the lifestyle? We keep most people at a screens distance, so naturally we live in a extremely sensitive and insecure culture.
Leadership has become fashionable. It’s trendy to use quotes, attend conferences, and hold titles. All leaders need to be students of leadership, but it’s one thing to be a student of leadership and it’s another to actually lead. We love the idea of influencing others, but it takes time and energy. It takes work. A lot of work. We can’t just carry the title, we have to show up.
Nobody likes hypocrisy. It’s not a new concept. Even Jesus hated it. The word hypocrisy is taken from the Greek term for “actor” and literally means “one who wears a mask”. (Ancient Greek actors wore masks during their performances.) So the true meaning of a hypocrite is someone who pretends to be what he is not. Now before you jump to the conclusion, I am not saying that yoga pant moms are hypocrites. My point here is that it does none of us any good to go around acting and putting on the garments if we are just playing dress up and pretending. Putting on a show.
Three easy ways to quit pretending:
1. Just be real
Be honest, and by being honest I don't mean that you announce your sin to the world with a megaphone. Stop feeling the need to cover up. It’s sad that a common term in our culture is “honestly” or “To be honest.” #TBH I mean, shouldn't we always be honest? Now, Self-Control is a fruit of the spirit that we should exercise regularly, but with people that we are living life with, we should let them know the real us- not the fake us.
“People would rather follow a leader who is always REAL than one who is alway RIGHT.” -Craig Groeschel
2. Show up
Our life and leadership will never produce if we only live based upon how we are feeling. There can be a great difference in how you feel and what you do. We must lead our heart if we want to experience life at the fullest.
One day at the gym, I noticed something about the man in jeans. He had a cane. I don’t know if he had it all the time but that day I noticed it. If I needed a cane I would skip the gym. But not this guy, he is the real deal. He doesn't make excuses, he doesn't let the pain keep him at home. He works out. It’s what he does.
On our best day or our worst day we show up. We are not being fake, we are being faithful.
"On our best day or our worst day we show up.
We are not being fake, we are being faithful."
3. Stay at it
Consistency is what defines us. It’s not our highlights nor our moment of weakness that reveals who we are. What we are made of is revealed throughout the seasons of our lives. Faithfulness ceases when we fail to be faithful, and fruitfulness is the result of being faithful. So stay at it! You are becoming the person and the leader that God has designed you to be. You can’t get results with out the hard work. Your job is to keep going and allow God to take care of your promotion.
One of my favorite things about my years spent in student ministry is the culture that was built. There were many fond moments as lives were being shaped and molded! One of the most fun things that came out of developing our culture were little “isms” that are formed. Part of the culture we developed was hard work. We would tirelessly hustle to get things done and often we found creative ways to problem solve. A term that we often used and lived by in those days was “Don’t tell me the problem tell me solution.” You see, I had trained our student leaders that they were not allowed to tell me about a problem until they tried several ways to solve it. If they came to me with a problem I would simply ask what they did to figure it out, or I would ask what they had tried. As stern as it may have sounded, rather than bailing them out, I taught them how to problem solve. Today some of those students are some of the most competent adults I know.
Problem solving is one of the most important aspects of leadership. Often times we will have to know how to find quick, innovative, quality solutions. Here are few things that will help you grow in solving problems.
“Don’t tell me the problem
tell me solution.”
5 Ways to Grow Problem Solving Skills
“Stop making excuses &
start making arrangements!”
There is almost always a way to accomplish what you set out to do. Sometimes that way has not been discovered yet. Be a creative learner. Ask God to fill you with creative solutions to accomplish what He wants to do with and through you. Don’t ask the Lord to bail you out! Sometimes the old way won't work because God wants to show you a new way. Remember: Necessity the mother of invention.