Dear fellow millennials,
We could be the generation to change the world if we changed a few of our own things first.
The world millennial is already a loaded word, like librarian is incorrectly associated with being a mean old lady with glasses who is boring and has at least three cats. But, I would think the stereotypes of being a millennial are worse, especially since we are entering the workforce and our future employers might already think we are a bunch of lazy, entitled people who think we can show up to work and get paid without actually putting in some blood, sweat or tears.
So, here are a few things we could do to help make our generation be taken seriously:
- Dress presentably. That phrase, “Dress for Success” is a cliché, but it is a true cliché. If we do not put the effort into looking professional, then how should we expect future employers to treat us as professionals?
If we show up to an interview or a serious job in our “lazy-day” outfits, then don’t you think potential employers will think if we are lazy putting effort into our appearance, we might be lazy elsewhere?
You will represent whoever you work for. Keep this in mind.
Why do we wear nice clothes to church? Because we want to give our best to God (or at least that is what my parents told me when I was four).
So why shouldn’t we want to look our best for our employers? Or at least dress right for the part? A soldier wears his uniform, a doctor their scrubs, a lawyer a suit, etc.
Be dressed for the role you want to play.
2. Work hard.
I don’t know how many times I have heard that we are a lazy generation who expects everything to be given to us for free.
First off, not our fault that we received “participation prizes” for every sports tournament . . . or didn’t even keep score in our Upward basketball games so “everyone could be a winner.”
But in the real world, there are winners and losers. And the person who works hard brings home the bacon.
The Bible affirms this principle. We were designed for work. Adam and Eve were stewards over the garden of Eden in the very beginning and when we get to heaven, many believe we will have a job there too (Genesis 2:15).
The book of Proverbs also explains the benefits of working hard:
“Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.” (Proverbs 12:11)
“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” (Proverbs 14:23)
“A sluggard’s appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.” (Proverbs 13:4)
If we would do our very best in everything and not for our own glory but for the Lord’s, we could rise above our stereotype and have a chance at changing the world for the better.
Paul even tells us in Colossians 3:23 that we SHOULD work at everything with our whole hearts.
Don’t procrastinate. Stop being lazy and only doing the minimum. Let’s be the generation who does the most.
3. Express gratitude.
Another stereotype about us is that we are entitled folks. We don’t know what it is like to have to work for everything we own or to go through tough times, like how the Baby Boomers remember their parents talking about the Great Depression or having to eat popcorn for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Everything was handed to us on a silver platter, and we forgot to say, “thank you.”
Perhaps we are the Prodigal Son generation. The generation who ran away from responsibility with their parents’ money and splurged it into nothingness.
Do you remember what happened to him? He started wanting to share the pigs’ breakfast when a famine came, and he was starving.
Then, he went back home after that experience humbled him.
My hope is that we don’t have to be starving in order to realize how good some of us have it and how much we take for granted.
You know what would make us really thankful? If we went to a place of pure poverty where men, women and children are living in unsanitary squalor.
I will never forget the time I went to the Dominican Republic and visited a church in a Haitian village.
They had nothing, literally. And yet. The people who have nothing know how to be the most thankful for what they do have and for what is given to them.
I also remember coming back one year from a medical mission trip to Honduras and even the “gross” bathrooms at the airport in Atlanta humbled me. We even take so much for granted in our public bathrooms: The toilet can flush with an easy press down on the trigger or just by standing up, the water is sanitary and probably clean to drink from, it’s air conditioned, and it has soap and toilet paper.
I’ll be honest. I may not have had all the designer clothes or the newest and greatest technology devices when they came out or even Nike Elite socks to play basketball in.
But I never had to worry about where my next meal would come from.
I never had to worry about not having to sleep on the streets.
I never had to worry about having clothes or shoes or being taken care of.
I never had to worry about NOT being able to go to college and pursuing higher education.
I am privileged.
But have I learned to be truly thankful? Have I learned how to express gratitude for the small things?
4. Have tools in our toolbox.
We can’t float through life. We can’t expect to get a job with a piece of paper that says “bachelor’s degree” if we don’t actually know how to do anything in the real world.
We need to learn skills that can be useful in any career field.
These might be:
- Having self-confidence
- Developing leadership skills
- Being able to communicate effectively and efficiently
- Knowing how to network and being nice to people
- Knowing how to listen to people
- Being teachable, flexible, and trustworthy
Ask someone you know and trust what areas you can grow in that would help you be a better person, a better employee, or even a better leader.
We can’t go out into the workforce with an empty toolbox. We have to know how to use tools to build the world we want to live in and for the generations after us to benefit from.
It’s a rough world out there, ya’ll. Let’s not make it any rougher than it has to be.
Actually, let’s try to smooth it out a little by being Christ-like individuals who can also be taken seriously in the workplace or any environment.
Let’s make being a millennial a good thing.
A Fellow WorldChanger