There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens. Ecclesiastes 3:1
The famous first line from the book by Rick Warren titled Purpose Driven Life is “It’s not about you”. The book has sold millions of copies which underscores how desperate people are to find their own purpose in life.
That message seems to have gotten lost on millennials, who have been called entitled, self-absorbed, and even narcissistic. Mind you, not all millennials are like that, but in general, the next generation is more concerned with “me” than “you”.
They have company. The Boomer Generation (those born between 1946 and 1964) were called the “Me Generation”, but the millennials are called the Me Me Me Generation. Some attribute this “Me Me Me” focus to how they were raised.
Millennials were told they were special and that they could do anything, even when they weren’t. They received participation awards when their actual achievements lagged.
The idea of this style of parenting was to instill in their children positive values and self-esteem. Millennials learned to cherish accolades over actual achievement. That background sets them on a collision course because, once they get a job, achievement, not accolades, is important.
I have pondered how do you take the millennials from being selfish to being selfless? I have some ideas, of course, but I don’t have a corner on the market. If you are a mentor, just your presence in their life is an example of serving others.
Motivating them is always a challenge. Admiral McRaven, a former Navy Seal, gave a commencement speechat the University of Texas in 2014 which is excellent. He distilled his address into a book entitled Make Your Bedwhich gives 10 principles that could change lives.
His first principle is, of course, is “If you want to change your life and maybe the world – start by making your bed.”
In his commencement speech, he notes that the average human will meet around 10,000 people in a lifetime. It would be too much to expect that you can impact all 10,000 people. But if you consider impacting just 10 people, and each one of them changed the lives of another 10 people, in five generations, you will have changed the lives of 800 million people.
I love this illustration. It is an example of how Jesus built his Kingdom. He didn’t start with 10,000 people in an auditorium. He invested in 12 men, who invested in 12 men, and so on.
Tyler Bonin, a Duke university graduate, wrote good advice in the Wall Street Journal recently. His advice to new college graduates was not the usual platitudes of “take risks” or “be courageous”. Instead, he admonishes graduates to “Start Mopping”.
His rationale is that millennials often don’t want to get their hands dirty due to their sense of entitlement. He started in his first job doing the messy ordinary things like cleaning bathrooms, and his managers noticed his work ethic and promoted him.
His advice is condensed to this: “Do the job that nobody wants, because, believe it or not, somebody appreciates it.” He ends with something I believe is important: “Volunteer to learn and provide value to others.”
I have encouraged my mentees to be involved with others through volunteering, mentoring or other activities where the object is not about them. A short-term mission trip is also an excellent way of opening their eyes to the needs of others.
Our challenge is to help the next generation find ways to become selfless and overcome their selfishness. Getting to this mindset may be one of the chief tasks of mentors. Getting them to look beyond themselves is a critical component to this task.
MENTOR TAKEAWAY: Mentors are in a key position to encourage their mentees to be selfless by volunteering. There is a huge amount of satisfaction to be gained by helping others.
FURTHER STUDY: Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life” is available at Amazon.
High School Commencement Addresstelling graduates from High School “You are not special”.
Make Your Bedby Admiral McRaven is available from Amazon.
WSJ Essay: “My Advice to Graduates: Start Mopping”
WORSHIP: Listen to Paul Baloche sing Today is the Day reminding us that today is a good time to start mentoring the next generation.
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