The Millennial's Greatest Struggle and The Battleplan to Defeat It
"My name is Lance, I am a Millennial and I need help." That sounds like a great introduction to a support group for the people my age. People who are still young and trying to navigate the waters of the unchartered territory we like to call adulthood.
I was born in the early 1980's which is the start of the generation of millenials. Our church is made of a good number of people born between the early 1980's and early 2000's. This is an exciting generation filled with creativity, passion, and mission. At Christ Fellowship, it's millenials who stir up the rest of the body for sharing the gospel. It's the millenials that don't want to sit still but want to go to the unreached people groups. It's the millenials that help us not forget the neighbors who live around us.
However, my generation doesn't come without its set of baggage. Our generation has been called entitled. We are known for demanding what we think we deserve without the work required to get it. Our generation has been seen as lazy. We can be seen dragging our feet into adulthood as we sleep on our parent's couches until our 30's and play video games into our 40's. We are a people easily addicted (porn, drugs) and easily distracted (phones, jobs, possessions). Like any generation we have our share of problems and we have to admit it.
Our Greatest Struggle
I must confess that the greatest struggle for millennials today is: Being Present.
This can be my greatest struggle of all. I can be with my family but not be totally with my family. I can be at work, yet wondering about everything that happens outside the walls. I struggle daily with being present and my guess is that you do as well.
I see this struggle in most millenials. Millenials are consumed with daydreaming about life in other cities. They are wondering what a relationship with someone else would be like. Or they are wrestling with discontent in their job and seeing themselves fulfilled in that fictious job that consumes their thoughts.
One author calls this the "Greener Grass Conspiracy." It's the struggle with discontentment that says I would be happier if I was in that job, or I would be more fulfilled if I lived in that city, or I would really be living if I could just be in that relationship. That's why there is so much struggle with porn and with video games because we tell ourselves those worlds are bigger, better and more fulfilling. Yet, we find out that the grass over there is dying.
We need a battleplan for being present. A battleplan for putting to death distractions. We need to start believing that the good life is the life before our eyes and the wasted life is the life we have made up in our heads. Here is a battleplan:
Put the Cell Phone Down. I need to hear this rebuke more than anyone. We are addicted and controlled by every ping that we hear from our iPhones. Every vibration in our pocket is an easy distraction from whatever is in front of us. We can't miss one Facebook notification, or one tweet or one text message or we will die. At least, we act like we will.
One study says that the average American sleeps within 5 feet of their cell phone. Seriously!?
What if we put the phone away when we got home to play with our children? What if we put the phone in our room so we could engage with our roommates? What if we had coffee with a friend alone, instead of with our friend and our cell phone? Every moment we stay connected to our cell phones, we are choosing to disconnect from the people around us.
Love the City Where You Live. I hear it every week. "I love Nashville and can't wait to move there after graduation." "If I could only move to Louisville, I know I would be content." It seems like everyone is in love with a city but it's never the one where they live.
We need to remember that God has placed you in the city where you live (Acts 17:26). God has placed you in that city, for however long you are in that city, to be on mission for Christ in that city. I am called to love, share the gospel, be on mission, pray for and serve the city of Bowling Green because God has placed me in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Not Nashville. Not Louisville. Not Los Angeles. And not even Bowling Green, Ohio.
Cut Out the Clutter. We all put too much time and resources in things that have no eternal value. We spend entirely too much time on Netflix and Facebook. We DVR way too many TV shows. We scan too many magazines and engage in too many hobbies. Now all of these things can be good in moderation because we need to find places to rest. However, if you have made it through one season of a TV show just this week on Netflix, than it's time to do some cutting. Find more time to be present in God's word, in prayer and engaged with others.
Work Hard. The job where you currently work might not be your dream job. Maybe you won't finish your career in that cubicle or on that assembly line. Still we can't miss that it is where God has us today. It is the place where God has chosen for you to use your gifts and energy this week.
Be present with the co-workers in the breakroom. Be present by working hard for your coworkers and for your boss. Be present by engaging every customer that walks through the doors. For every moment that you spend daydreaming about dream job, the light you shine for Christ is growing dimmer in your current one.
Engage With People. We have spent so much time playing video games, watching TV, updating Facebook and surfing the internet that we don't even know how to engage with people. We have lost the art of having a simple conversation with someone.
Make the highlight of your day the engagement you have with people. Let the value of your day be computed by building real community. Be present to talk to the cashier at Walmart. Be present to read a book with your children. Be present to stay up late and talk about Christ with your roommate. Be present and get to know people at the park. Be present enough to turn off the TV and engage a neighbor next door.
Be On Mission. The truth is for every moment that you are not being present is a moment that you are missing the mission. Jesus saved you to be on mission. Jesus saved you to be present. To be an active agent and ambassador of his redeeming love in your city.
Every time we look at the phone, we could miss someone that is hurting. All the time we spend daydreaming at work about a job, we are missing a coworker that needs to hear the gospel. Every hour spent in front of the TV or with a video game controller is an hour that someone could be prayed with or encouraged in the faith.
Jesus tells us as disciples, "Do not be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself" (Matthew 6:34) Jesus tells us to be consumed with the present. He is saying you can't mow tomorrow's "greener grass" because you're not there. So don't waste your energy and passion on tomorrow because it's not even promised to us. The only thing promised is the here and now. The only thing we are accountable for is being faithful in today's reality. Let's be found faithful and let's be present today.