Damage Control

Even when I am old and gray,
    do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
    your mighty acts to all who are to come. 
Psalm 71:18

I recently met a man who does HR consulting for companies, both large and small.  We got into an interesting conversation of our common interest:  millennials in the workplace. He said company after company were having issues with millennials that didn’t exist years ago.

He cited one company that elevated a 29 year old to be the supervisor of 14 people. He said that it was a disaster.  The young man may have had the technical skills and aptitude for the job, but he was totally without any social soft skills or, EQ.  EQ refers to Emotional Intelligence.  

Some people are wired without natural soft skills, but most of the millennials have become that way through no real fault of their own.  In my law days, I had one lawyer in my office who lacked any sense of social savoire faire which usually surfaced when he was working on a difficult matter.   About once every three months, I would have to go into his office and tell him “Tom (not his name), you’ve done it again.”  

His response was always one of surprise.  He had the interpersonal social skills of an anvil dropped off a ten story building. Once in a while he managed to verbally step on a staff person (figuratively, of course).  He was totally unaware which is the reason for my frequent intrusions.

The pandemic has only made it worse. Isolation from others (even via social media) has only deepened a problem that existed before, largely due to  digital natives who don’t have much experience with face to face interactions.  

A recent article from Tim Elmore struck me as one solution that I hadn’t thought about. The topic was SEL (Social and Emotional Learning). SEL is the skill set required to have reasonable social skills in all settings. Some people have it naturally; others have to learn the skills. 

What struck Elmore is that, for some reason, we have defaulted to the schools to teach SEL. One of the teachers at his event posed the question:  “How do we get parents to help us teach SEL when the children are at home?”  Bingo.

Elmore had one of those moments of what I refer to as the blinding glimpse at the obvious,  “Parents and communities ((not schools) for the entirety of human history” have taught these skills until they were collected up and labeled SEL and introduced in the schools. That was the way it was up until as recently as 30 years ago. 

Elmore looks at who should be in charge of the social and emotional development of our children. It is not a hard question nor a trick question, by the way. His conclusion:  Parents or adults other than teachers. He gives five suggestions as to how to achieve that. 

The first is to develop self-awareness. Try using things like self-assessments. The old model was Myers-Briggs Test, but now there are Value AssessmentsStrength Finder or The Big Five Personality Test.. Each is designed one to discover your uniqueness within a family. I have used these many times in mentoring and have found them helpful.

Self-Management with your family is the second where each member determines an area or two where they lack discipline (e.g. brushing teeth every day). Then each member commits for a week to practice three steps with a follow up session to see what worked/didn’t work.

The third is to develop social awareness by watching documentaries available online on topics that cover social issues that are not familiar to your family. Netflix has a list, but there are other sources, too. The idea is to discuss what life looks like for the people involved and how they felt about the issue they are facing.

Next is helping them build relationships. Have your next generation list on a piece of paper the people they consider part of their “support network”. Have them assign a role (only one role per person):  heroes (people that you look up to), mentors (people who coach); role models (people who do what you want to do) ; inner circle (those closest who are like family); mentees (those that learn from you); and partners (those that hold you accountable).

Are there any gaps or anyone on the list that one needs to reconnect to?  We really need all of those role players in our lives.

Lastly, and most importantly, help them make responsible decisions. Take an issue – even a local one – that your community is facing that does not have an obvious solution. Brain -storm to see how what options there are, what people should be consulted, how they would decide and what values drove them to their conclusion.  This helps develop critical thinking which is a skill that has declined in the next generation.

What is interesting is that each of these steps can be used by Mentors in helping their mentees prepare for a world where soft skills are needed more than ever.  Sarenz, in his book, concludes that taking time to develop and consciously engage in social skills results in having our deep core beliefs “drive our behavior automatically.”  Good stuff.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  One of the important and often forgotten roles that the next generation needs is a mentor willing to invest in their life.  Do it today if you haven’t already.

FURTHER READING:  Why SEL Has to Be More Than a Class – Elmore

Emotional Intelligence in Leadership -Learning How to be More Aware – Mind Tools

The EQ Intervention – Adam Saenz

WORSHIP: Moment of Awareness – CrossWise 

For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

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The New Rules

Furthermore, just as they [those in Rome] did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not be done. Romans 1:28

As I look around at what is increasingly a Romans 1 world, I often have to stop myself because the changes have come so fast and are so pervasive. It’s hard to look at any aspect of life in this country that has not had dramatic changes in the past 15 months. 

I have watched these new trends unfold in rapid succession over the past year and have written about many of them.

Perhaps it was Covid-19 that acted as a triggering effect.  I am convinced that it had a role in the changes we are seeing in our country, its institutions, schools and government.  Everywhere, we are faced with a woke narrative that is premised on a distorted history and has Marxist roots. The result is to further divide the country, not bring it together.

Victor David Hansen recently wrote a piece in the Daily Signal which caught my eye.  It is titled “Ten Radical New Rules that are Changing America”.   I will cover several of the “new rules”  which are shaping our culture and our society before our very eyes. 

The first one is a change of our concept of money.  It is now a “construct” and under the economic theory called Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), money can be created out of “thin air” with no negative consequences. What could possibly go wrong? (Hint:  A lot!).

The second is that laws are no longer binding anymore. In a country that is based on a legal system and the rule of law for society, it apparently is now optional to follow laws you don’t like. Immigration laws are being ignored, and arrests, trials and prosecutions are being sidetracked by progressive district attorneys such as those in Philadelphia and Los Angeles

Predictably, crime is soaring  by 20% or more in cities where police are being defunded or policies make it difficult to get convictions for even serious felonies.  Car-jackings in Chicago are up 124%.

The next is:  “radicalism is now in vogue and acceptable”.  That makes it permissible to call someone racist because of their skin color, not based on who they are or what they have ever done. You are guilty until proven innocent which is upside down in a law system that is just the opposite.  

Instead of there being a commonality of being an American, we are now judged first on our ethnicity and our religion.  If you are white, denying that you are a racist now makes you more a racist. Get it?  The result is rules that openly discriminate against whites which is justified as an “unspoken payback for past sins”.  

Next, immigrants have more rights than U.S. citizens. While we are mandated to wear masks and remain socially distanced, illegal immigrants get a free pass.  Immigrants breaching our southern border are not given COVID tests, and recently, 82 teens immigrants housed in the San Diego Convention Center had COVID.  

What makes this maddening is that homelessness is a major problem in urban areas, yet the homeless are ignored, and all the attention is placed on immigrants. In some twisted logic, it is more human to let thousands of homeless people perpetually live on sidewalks using drugs and defecating on the streets than to fix the problem with affordable housing or providing mental health care.

Hypocrisy is dead. Virtue signaling is in. “Climate change activists fly on private jets” like John Kerrywho arrogantly justified his conduct by saying he was working hard on climate change. He managed to use 40 times the emissions by flying in his private jet to Iceland to accept an ice sculpture. Social justice advocates live in gated communities where the impact of their policies cannot be felt or even seen.

Cancel culture is “in” which is a throwback to the days of McCarthy in the early 1950’s when he ruined people lives in a quest to unearth communists in America. One wrong statement can and will cost you your reputation or even cost your job. Just ask parents in Loudon County, VA

The last two are particularly important because the next generation have largely been indoctrinated (I don’t know any other word to use here).   “Ignorance is now preferable to knowledge.”  Changing school names or toppling statutes of our founders and adopting the 1619 Project curriculum doesn’t “require any evidence of historical knowledge”.

And lastly, “wokeness is a new religion and is growing faster than Christianity” according to Hansen.  Let that sink in. It is not just a way to view racial justice; it is an ideology which demands conformity. The woke “gospel” is brought to us by Silicon Valley which is the “new Vatican”. In some ways, wokeness mirrors Islamist Jihadists.  Any person denying their creed is treated as an infidel; no redemption is allowed.

Hansen notes that American fear these rules but do so privately and publicly appear to accept these rules. In part that is because of the risk of public “flogging” on social media. 

The next Generation – particularly Gen Z – make decisions which are informed by equality for all and the woke culture overall, according to Tim Elmore. They are also an “anything goes” generation – they have grown up in an environment when “traditional morals are in question.” They feel betrayed by the older generation and are questioning “everything” just as the Boomers did in the 1960’s.

The challenge here is obvious. These new rules and the trends that underly them are taking this country by storm. I am sitting in Madison, GA right now, and I am reminded of Sherman’s union army march from Atlanta, GA to the ocean during the Civil War where he met little resistance. As a result almost every city in the way was destroyed (except Madison). 

Our next generation has questions just as prior generations have had,  but the traditional sources for getting answers has changed. We can no longer rely on schools to provide historically accurate answers. Mentors are needed to provide a correct historical and biblical context for our culture. 

MENTOR TAKEAWAY: Mentors can be heard over the media din if you have developed a trust relationship with your mentee. 

FURTHER READING:  MMT is a Disaster Waiting to Happen – James Rickards

Taking on Progressive Prosecutors – City Journal

School Board Members Reportedly Targeting Parents Who oppose Critical Race Theory

The Educational Woke-Ocracy – Federalist

25 Cities Where Crime is Soaring – Samuel Stebbins

Ten Terms that Define Generation Z Today – Elmore

Course Corrections:  Two Narratives for Generation Z – free eBook 

WORSHIP: There is Nothing That Our God Can’t Do – Passion

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There was a man all alone;
    he had neither son nor brother.
There was no end to his toil,
    yet his eyes were not content with his wealth.
“For whom am I toiling,” he asked,
    “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?”
This too is meaningless—
    a miserable business!

Ecclesiastes 4:8

I look back at my life and can often see where my priorities were out of balance. I’ll bet you can too, and they still may need tweaking even now. There was a time that I was the workaholic described by Solomon above. I was never satisfied with how much I had to the detriment of my family.

When I became a Christian, I knew something was badly out of kilter and that I was missing something. It was a game changer for me.

A friend of mine, Mark Wohlschlaeger, recently gave me a short book written by Mike Breen and Ben Stenke. It is titled Oikonomics.  It is an intriguing and worthwhile read and the good news? It is less than 100 pages.

The title uses the word Oikofrom the Greek word meaning house. The second part is based on the Greek word nomos which means “custom” or “law”. Thus, the original word “economy” was the rule or management of a household.  

Oikos meant more than a house with a family; it includes the broader relationships of the family of aunts, uncles and even business associates. 

The book looks at what the authors describe as the “Five Capitals” that each person invests in during their lifetime.  Each Capital is a different dimension to a person, but Jesus spoke about all of them. As the authors note, He was a great economist.  These concepts are another way of describing how one prioritizes his life. 

The five “Capitals” include Spiritual Capital, Relationship Capital, Physical Capital, Intellectual Capital, and lastly, Financial Capital.  That list is the order that Jesus prescribes, for Jesus considered Spiritual Capital as the most valuable. 

What intrigues me about the list is that I and others have gotten the list mixed up and in the wrong order. Jesus said:  Love God first and your neighbor as yourself second.  That puts Spiritual Capital (loving God) and Relational Capital (loving your neighbor) in order. But we often seek one or more of the other “Capitals” first.

Spiritual capital is a “way of talking about our relationship with God” which is our spiritual equity that we can invest in others. Its currency is wisdom and power. 

Relationship Capital is how much relational equity that we can use in investing in others. Mentoring the next generation comes to mind. It is an example of using that currency.

Intellectual capital is how much “creativity, ideas and knowledge” we have to invest. Physical Capital, similarly, is how much time and energy we have, resulting in how we use our time and our health.  Being physically and emotionally fit is important to maintain our other priorities.

Finally, Financial Capital is how much treasure we have to invest, as a result of our careers. Its currency is money.  Most are familiar with this, and we often get it wrong and put this at the top of the list. It can be, as the author’s note, “overvalued”.

The authors cite that studies show that after a certain threshold of income is achieved, “obtaining more money has almost no impact” on our satisfaction with life.  

The recent spectacular financial demise of philanthropist Bill Hwang is a case in point on misplaced priorities. As a person, he was charitable with many recipients including Fuller Seminary, Young Life and other Christian causes.

Yet, somehow, his motive to maximize the increase of his wealth took him to make foolish leveraged bets on the stock market with devastating financial effects. Billions of dollars were lost by banks who facilitated his investments.

Greed takes many forms.  Ecclesiastes 4:8 comes to mind where the workaholic invests all of his time and effort in his career without asking the question “Why am I doing this?”  Bill Hwang apparently didn’t ask that question either.

Where the authors take these concepts in different environments is thought provoking and interesting.  For example, the priorities of the Five Capitals in the workplace are in the following order of value: 

  1. Financial
  2. Intellectual
  3. Relational
  4. Physical
  5. Spiritual

That makes sense, but these are not the balanced priorities that Jesus taught.

In Academics, the order of value switches somewhat to the following:

  1. Intellectual
  2. Financial
  3. Relational
  4. Physical
  5. Spiritual

And finally, the order of the values of capital in the Church may surprise you:

  1. Physical (attendance)
  2. Financial (tithes and offerings)
  3. Relational
  4. Spiritual 
  5. Intellectual

If there was ever a messed up order of priorities for a church, these are the times. We are seeing wholesale closing of churches in America after the pandemic, and most of them are closing because of the above priorities.  

Churches that survive in today’s world will value the Spiritual Capital of its members most. Investing in the next generation is important and mentoring is one of the tools that God has given us to pass on our Spiritual Capital to future generations. 

The challenge is for each of us to consider what our priorities are and what they should be according to Jesus. It is easy to get sidetracked. The next generation is also struggling with their priorities in a very difficult cultural world. They need help in navigating the right choices.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  A mentor has experienced  wrong priorities and choices in life and is in the best position to guide a mentee to avoid mistakes. That is invaluable. 

FURTHER READING:  Oikonomics:  How to Invest in Life’s Five Capitals the Way Jesus Did

Money only Buys Happiness for a Certain Amount – Purdue

WORSHIP:  Is He Worthy – Chris Tomlin

For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

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