To the Generation that’s Been Written-Off
Have you ever found yourself being stereotyped? For most of us, our minds instantly jump to the colour of our skin or our gender, answering the question in our minds very quickly. But what about being stereotyped because of your age?
If you’re under the age of 35, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. I’m talking about Millennials. I’m talking about the Millennials that our parents, employers, and strangers assume we are. The lazy, entitled, self-righteous over-grown children that are living in their parent’s basements until they are 40. Those Millennials. (As a disclaimer, I do in fact live in my parent’s basement, but I’m not 40.)
For the sake of brevity, I’m not going to go into why this generation has been labelled this way. I’m no psychologist, so it’s better for everyone if we just skim over that part.
The question I have been desperately trying to answer during the short time that I’ve been in the workforce is this: How can I be a strong, Christ-like leader as a woman who is part of a generation that’s almost been written-off by the generation of CEOs and board members? What can I actually do to be recognized as something more than the self-centred kid in the office?
The answer to this is so simple and obvious that it seems silly to even write down: Work. Yes, you read that right. You want people to take you seriously and not assume you’re the stereotypical young person that culture tells us we are? Work, and work hard.
The classic verse that comes to mind when thinking about the influence of young people is found in 1 Timothy 4:12; “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.”
That’s as simple and straightforward as we could ever ask for. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of people that read the first half of the verse and then stop. “Don’t let people look down on you because you are young.” That sounds nice. It takes every ounce of responsibility off of our shoulders. The burden of combatting age stereotyping isn’t my responsibility, it’s yours.
You treat me like garbage, but I’m the most important person here.
I’m capable, why won’t you trust me?
I can do it, why won’t you let me?
Clearly, many of us have missed the last part of the verse: “…but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.”
It’s not up to them, it’s up to us.
The best way to prove yourself as a young leader is to do exactly that- be a leader.
We can’t expect to sit idly by and think that our bosses and parents will automatically respect us.
This isn’t the first time young people have been looked down on by their preceding generation. This has happened with every generation, our 21 st century culture just complains about it more. But you cannot let yourself be defined by what society tells you about yourself. Set yourself apart, as 1 Timothy tells us. Be a young woman that earns her respect as a leader- not one that is entitled to it. But this takes hard work. This means spending the bulk of your 20’s and 30’s at the bottom of the food chain at work. It means being the first to show up and the last to leave. It means going the extra mile with everything you do- personally and professionally. It means giving everything you have over to the Lord, and letting Him lead you on your journey to lead others.
As a young woman who desires to be a Christ-like leader, in whatever capacity that may be, I must first start with myself. Am I behaving like a woman that a CEO would want to trust? Am I showing the respect that I would one day love to receive?
Hard work is a skill that does not always come naturally to us. Hard work is a discipline and can be developed by anyone who is determined enough. And the best part? It’s never too late to start developing that skill. Working hard earns respect and being respected is a strong motivator to work hard. If it sounds like a cycle that never ends, it’s because it is!
Being a young person is frustrating, especially when those in leadership over you deny your abilities because of your age. But being a young person is also an exciting time. It’s exciting because with the Lord’s guidance and strength, we have the opportunity to prove to those around us that we’re more than avocado toast-loving 20-somethings who live in their parents basements.
Content Marketing Specialist for the Good News Broadcasting Assoc. of Canada
Erika works as a Content Marketing Specialist for the Good News Broadcasting Assoc. of Canada. She was born and raised in Mission, BC. Erika enjoys spending time with her family and friends, and if shopping were a sport, she would probably be an Olympian. She also firmly believes that coffee is the most important food group. Erika is passionate about seeing people transformed by Christ, and is excited to see how God will use her as she embarks on a journey of serving Him!