Jump Start # 3492
1 Timothy 4:12 “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.”
The title of the article was blunt. It read, “Gen Z is shaping itself into the ‘Wasted Generation.’” The story reported more than one college professor who was fired because the students complained that the classes were too hard and that they wouldn’t give them better grades. The focus on the article was how higher education is enabling rather than helping young people. Challenges and failures drive a person to do better. The concern was that Generation Z was content to be mediocre. A third did not care about their grades and 89% enjoy the idea of putting the bare minimum into their work. Rather than developing the atmosphere of achieving and striving for the best, the current culture is catering to doing as little as possible.
Generic articles like this often paint a picture with a very broad brush. We know not all young people are like this. We know not all schools of higher education are lowering the levels of expectations. However, this ought to be a point of discussion and concern for God’s leaders today.
Will lazy preachers be the norm in the future? Will they allow AI to write their sermons and do as little as possible? Will future shepherds be lazy and confine all their work to the times of services? And, will congregations be content to do as little as possible? Lazy saints that are unmotivated and have little drive about them will let opportunity after opportunity pass by. Congregations will drift. Indifference will take over. And, congregations will die a slow death which very few will do anything about.
In some ways, that is the current state of many places. Sad, but honest and true. Very little looking beyond who is doing what this coming Sunday. Just existing week after week. No goals. No ambition. No drive.
Here are a few of my thoughts about all of this:
First, I don’t buy into the idea that it is the responsibility of colleges and universities to teach achievement, ambition and doing your personal best. Dumbing things down and changing things just because something is hard is not the right answer. It’s in the home that all of these internal life lessons need to be taught and developed. Get those kids out of bed. Turn off the videos. Grab a shovel and go down the street and clear the snow out of the driveway of an older person. Do that for free. Do that because there are lessons learned when you do that.
Challenges in the home and facing difficulties and even failures helps us to understand that we are not the center of the universe. Not everything is about me. There are some things a person will do in which there is no return benefit other than helping someone out. Some jobs are just stinky and there are moments in life which are boring. That’s life. Unmotivated parents will create unmotivated children.
Second, we need a greater picture of the kingdom of God. It is the greatest force on the earth. We need to support it, protect it and help it grow. Our attitudes about God, worship and His people has a lot to do with the way our children will think. Love worship. Put God first. Wrap all your choices around what God would want from you. Pray for your people. Think about ways that you can help improve things. When you see something you can do, even picking up a piece of paper off the floor, do it.
I remember my ole’ friend Jim Babcock. He was the local principal of a small high school. He’d be seen picking up trash in the Walmart parking lot. Why? There were people paid to do that. He was a school principal. He did that because it was something he could do. Man that lesson stuck with me. Now, if I see a shopping cart sitting in the middle of a parking space, I’ll move it. I know Jim would.
When we have that attitude about the kingdom, we’ll bring our best, do our best and do all we can to make it the best. We’ll be thinking about these things all the time. We’ll see doors wide open to talk to someone, invite someone, share with someone a sermon, article or even a Jump Start. Mediocre. Average. Typical. Normal. Those are words that do not define our walk with Jesus.
Third, that Gen Z group of young people described in the article are going to face the cold reality of truth some day. They will have jobs that are hard. They will do things that they hate. They will work long hours. They will face bills, debt, death, and the realty that life doesn’t lower the bar because we complain or don’t like things. They may jump from job to job to job before they realize there is a reason why work is called “work.” They may have to work holidays. They may not be able to take off every day that they want to. Scream “unfair.” Pout. Quit. Run home. This is life. We still have it so much easier than those in the middle ages.
When we read about Paul preaching at midnight in Acts 20, I doubt he started at 9:30 in the morning. Most were slaves. They had to get their work done first. Work hard. Work long. Then get to worship. Then stay up until past midnight, knowing that in the morning, as a slave and servant, you couldn’t call in and take the day off. You had to get up and work, tired as you are. But they assembled. They worshipped. They saw fit to be with one another.
We don’t do our families a favor when we pamper them all the time and make them believe they are the darlings of the world. The beloved apostle described himself as hungry, thirsty and homeless. Who was he going to cry to? Who was going to make things better for him? He mustered on, knowing that faithfulness does just that.
We need young people who are not defined by articles such as what we stared with. We need hard working, self sacrificing, kingdom loving disciples who do not waste time and opportunity but rather are an example to the rest of us. Those kind will stand out. Those kind will make a difference. Those kind will be noticed. Those kind ought to be what we are made of.