I Don’t Do Paperwork!
I am passionate about challenging millennials to get outside of the church and boldly share the Gospel. Each generation faces unique barriers to following God in a radical way. In every age, we are called to subvert the values of secular culture and confront the idols that are destroying people. There is perhaps no greater idol today than ourselves.
Self-worship has been at the core of man’s rebellion from the very beginning, yet it now seems to be more exaggerated than in the past. Has there ever been a time when selfishness was more openly celebrated?
A few years ago, the now massive EDM (Electro Dance Music) band The Chainsmokers, released a song called “Kanye.” The message was simple: our goal should be to live like Kanye West, whose life embodies the narcissism of our day. I’ve come to expect modern pop music to be shallow and riddled with negative messages, but consider the following lyrics:
I wanna be like Kanye
I'll be the king of me always
Do what I want and have it my way
All day, like Kanye-eah, yeah, yeah
These words seem harmless enough, but to me, they perfectly sum up the spirit of our age.
The song goes on:
One day, I'll stand with a crown on my head
Like a god, yeah, like a god
With every step, no, I won't second guess what I want
These lyrics aren’t meant to be rebellious or counter-cultural. Far from it! This self-worship is in perfect step with the modern mindset, and sadly, many young Christians have absorbed this thinking into their understanding of God and His calling on their lives.
In this blog, I want to look at what I call “The Myth of Instant Specialization.” I work with a lot of twenty-somethings who are looking to enter into full-time missions; they often don’t last.
In many cases, this is because they want to serve in a way that perfectly aligns with their skills, dreams, or passions. I believe everyone has been created with unique abilities and, as a leader, I want to see them operating in those gifts. Yet, there is a critical component to lasting in any vocation - a willingness to “pay your dues.”
Among many young people, this is considered one of those “Dad” cliches that, along with “work isn’t supposed to be fun” and “I’m not paying to heat the outside!,” isn’t taken very seriously. Yet being a fruitful follower of Jesus is impossible without a servant’s heart and a willingness to serve in any way that is needed.
I have worked with a lot of millennials who are full of passion and truly desire to change the world, but quickly become frustrated if asked to contribute outside of their area of interest. As a leader, it can be exhausting to work with someone who has bought into the myth of instant specialization. In reality, specialization is rare. Thriving organizations are built by people who do anything required of them to bring about success. If this is true of a secular company, (and it is), how much more would it be valid in ministry, where our model is Jesus - the man who washed his disciples' feet, said that to be first was to be last, and to lead was to serve?
I am not suggesting that you can never expect to use the unique talents that God has given you. Quite the opposite! But it all comes down to having a servant's heart. God will often use our early days in an organization or ministry as a testing ground. The young believer who comes into a ministry with an “I will do anything that is asked of me” attitude is a huge blessing, and is far more likely to be successful. After all, Jesus said in Matthew 16:25, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Our culture glorifies individual achievement. I am God. I am King. I will get what I want. That is the anthem of our age. But God says, “Surrender and serve.” For a millennial wanting to live a life of radical obedience, it has to begin by rejecting the patterns of this world, surrendering to God, and saying, “I will do whatever you want me to do.”
Time and time again, I have seen that those with this kind attitude are not only a significant blessing to the ministry God has called them to serve, but they are also quickly released to accomplish the good works that God has prepared in advance for them to do (Ephesians 2:10).
The millennial that is willing to “pay their dues” and give their life to serve God will end up with far more than specialization—they will find real life.