"WorldView Conversation" is an ongoing discussion of global events, issues and trends: What's happening, why is it happening, and how might God be using events for His purposes? How can you get involved and make a positive impact? My twice-monthly WorldView columns will be posted along with other thoughts and observations, but I want to listen to you. What do you think?
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Look for ‘the look'
“The look.” If you’re a parent, a teacher or a
mentor, you’ve seen it on young faces.
I’m not talking about the exasperated eye roll or the heavy-lidded
look of indifference. I’m talking about that yearning stare into the middle
distance — the look of someone in search of direction.
If you’re a disciple maker or mission mobilizer, look for that
It’s not that hard to find. Don’t let all the gloom and doom about
Millennials leaving the church (or never coming in the first place) get you
down. There are plenty of teens, college students and young adults — Christian
or not — searching for deeper purpose in their lives and eager for someone to
point them in the right direction.
I’ve encountered lots of them. And research about faith, work and
“calling” among American adults backs me up. Last year the Barna Group reported
that three out of four adults are “looking for ways to live a more meaningful
life. Whether such meaning is found in family, career, church, side projects or
elsewhere, these are all questions of vocation — that is, the way in which
people feel ‘called’ to certain types of work and life choices. … [T]hese
questions remain as strong as ever for millions of Americans.”
Christians have an additional question: “What does God want me to
do with my life?”
According to the Barna Group’s report, “only 40 percent of practicing
Christians say they have a clear sense of God’s calling on their lives.
Christian Millennials are especially sensitive to this divine prompting —
nearly half (48 percent) say they believe God is calling them to different
work, yet they haven’t yet made such a change.”
What’s stopping them? Fear of stepping out of the safety zone,
perhaps. Finances, student debt or conflicting commitments and priorities might
be holding them back.
Then there’s the “quarter-life crisis” — that anxious and
increasingly extended period between completing school and hitting a stride,
professionally and/or relationally, when 20-somethings wander in a bewildering
world of countless options and no firm decisions. It’s not a new thing. Bob
Dylan captured it perfectly 50 years ago in his classic song, “Like a Rolling
How does it feel To be on your own With no direction home Like a complete unknown Like a rolling stone?
But maybe all many 20-somethings lack is a nudge, an encouraging
word, a coach in their corner. Christians in particular crave “more direction
and discipleship when it comes to the theology of calling, especially as it
relates to work,” the Barna report found.
Many young Americans are following a multi-career path or working
multiple jobs, whether by choice or economic necessity. The traditional
40-hour week for a single employer has changed for millions into a series of
temporary jobs, freelance assignments, passion projects and startups. It’s
harder to make ends meet, but the new environment affords the flexibility for
people to seek something more than just a paycheck.
“A new kind of economy is taking shape, in part because it would
seem today’s workforce has decided for itself that making a living is not
enough if that living lacks purpose, meaning and impact,” said the Barna
report. “[A]dults today are deeply concerned with getting work ‘right’ — nearly
six out of 10 say they want to make a difference in the world.”
This represents a huge opportunity for Christians who want to lead
a rising generation toward God and His global purposes. The secular façade that
covers American culture is just that — a façade. Young adults are just as
hungry for God today as ever, whether they realize it yet or not, and they’ll
never know peace and purpose until they follow Him. Seek them out. If you can’t
find them at church, look for them in the workplace. Join a school mentoring
They’re out there, hoping for a guide. Don’t keep them waiting.