I’ve written about what I consider to be ageism against millennials before. But I want to offer a slightly different perspective on it here.
When I last wrote about the topic, I ended with a plea to the older generation to rally around my mine and invest in us through mentorship. But now I want to speak to my generation. Specifically, the men. So let me start off by getting some things out of the way… No, I do not buy into the claim that all millennials are stuck-up and entitled, simply because we grew up around technology and economically successful parents. No, I do not think some of the trends with millennials living in their parents’ basement is solely our fault. No, I do not think millennials make lousy employees. But I do think we live in a culture that has established high-paying white collar work as the norm. I also think there is a legitimate masculinity crisis in our country. Less and less men are involved in church-life, fatherhood, or meaningful employment these days. Why is that?
The lie we tend to believe as young men is that, if we can make it through college then we get to jump into a job similar to the ones our parents had. Whether that was ever true, I’m not sure. If it ever was, a tumultuous economy and weakened job market has made it untrue. For a young man graduating from college these days, finding any employment (let alone high-level office work) is harder than ever. I was shocked when I graduated college and found that my mountains of resumes and job applications found themselves collecting dust on the shelves of some manager looking to hire someone with more on-the-job-experience. Being an unemployed male can be debilitating and humiliating, as is being a male in a job you perceive to be “dead-end.” Many men respond to this problem by going in one of two directions. On one end is absolute apathy, and on the other is wild living. Countless men in our culture endure unmet expectations by spending every waking hour of their free time watching TV while their wives struggle to raise the kids on their own, or they spend it in the bar with the guys. Worst case scenario they spend it with other women, assuming it’s just their “nature” as men to want to sleep around.
The Freedom of a Yoke
In my short few years as a young adult, I’ve been determined not to fit the stereotype of a millennial man. And as I’ve read books and listened to sermons on the subject, I’ve found nothing as motivating as this passage of scripture:
It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth. Lamentations 3:27
Ironic, isn’t it? That doesn’t sound that motivating. Basically it just says, “hey, you’re going to have to just do some hard unenjoyable work during the best years of your life, and that’s actually how it’s supposed to be.” And yet, it’s strangely moving. It is the freedom of the yoke. That by submitting ourselves to the simplicity of hard work, we can some how affirm who we are meant to be, thereby setting ourselves up to really do something great with our lives. It’s the classic story of King David sweating in the fields to take care of some dirty sheep before he is ever made king. It’s the story of Christ, living in anonymity, toiling away in his fathers woodworking studio for the better part of His entire life before finally leading the most dynamic 3-year ministry the world has ever seen.
Things to Strive For
So, if you are a millennial man wanting desperately to avoid fitting the stereotypes of you generation and gender, here are a few suggestions for you…
1. Get a job. Not the right job. Just, a job. Sometimes, you just need work. Swallow your pride and don’t try waiting around for what you think you need to do because that job probably isn’t out there yet. You’re goal should be to work into your ideal job, not interview for it.
2. Try new things. I was an english major. I wanted to get a job writing all day. But then I tried after school care and I discovered I had a calling to teach. I still get to write, but education is a huge part of my life and I’m happy it is, and I wouldn’t have gotten it if I wasn’t willing to try it.
3. Get married. I’m not kidding. Most of us are not meant to be single and the details of life will be so much easier if you do it with a partner and team mate. That doesn’t mean get married to the first person who’ll say yes. There are obviously standards, but if you’re using “standards” as an excuse to be a player and sleep around without having someone to take care of, you’re kidding yourself. You will become more of a man when you get married, not less of one.
4. Cultivate excellence. This period of your life is probably the only time you will ever be free to learn how to do something extremely well with little danger if you fail. CEOs face daily pressure because if they don’t measure up on the most routine tasks, their entire business will fail. Put your work in now. He who is faithful in the little, will rule over much. (Luke 16:10)
5. Don’t complain. Simply put, complainers don’t get promoted. They are ineffective because they see problems more readily than solutions. There has never been anyone who has done something great by complaining. Besides, thankful people are happier.
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