Does anyone do 9 – 5? #work #generations

https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140630203140-58113098-why-9-5-wont-work-for-millennials?trk=tod-home-art-list-large_0&_mSplash=1 (Kern Carter, “Why 9-5 Won’t Work for Millennials”, 6/30/14)

Every generation since WWII has aspired to not work anymore. We want to retire when we are done high school.

I think that is actually a core value from the Boomers on. We all derive full identity and personal pleasure from our work, and yet hate to say it. Instead, we make commentary and strive to be identified by anything else. Your phone, your tablet, your cottage, your children, your clothes…anything else. But the reality is we are categorized by our work and continue to be owned by it. We can blame each other older and younger alike for how we perceive our attitude towards work, or the attitude of the other, but at the end of the day we all contribute to making it the centrepiece of the family dinner table.

Sorry, I still assumed you had a family dinner from time to time. My bad.

The blog rant linked above makes a solid point here. Millennials are the first generation to actually go into the workforce and live what they had been taught about it. Boomers wanted everything so they could live carefree, GenX wants to just chill and have equilibrium in the world through their chillage. Oh, and the Sleepers/Builders want their former empire to be sustained. But here is the problem:

The home empire is global, and no one can afford it.
You cannot work like a dog for all the great stuff and enjoy it in your retirement.
You will end up working for the Man, and may someday become him…if the Millennials don’t beat you to it.

Agile goals. Project mindedness. Loose allegiance. How will this profit me in the near future?

This has changed the way we are doing education, structuring the workplace, organizing our play time, and looking to the future. Now that Millennials have hit the 30’s we get to see some of the longer trajectory of the thinking we assumed and predicted would be present. Case in point, the attitude towards the workplace. It still engulfs every aspect of life, but it is by the choosing of the individual. Working at my pace, where I want, when I want, for the highest negotiated benefit possible. There is no sense that a company may have their best interest in mind in the next 10 years, never mind into retirement.

So where do we place the commentary at the end of the rant?

Funny, all the tired, old and a little burnt out statements rise to the occasion. Many of this rhetoric seems like it should be decorated on a wooden plaque between sets of antlers above a large fireplace in the den of a successful business tycoon. Claiming that this was the recipe he went by to become the man he is today, when really this was what he asked of the worker on his factory floor. “Give me your life of work and we will all benefit.” Some will just benefit a lot more than others. The commentators validate exactly what this Millennial is saying about the attitude towards work in the long run. We should all get the brass ring now because that is all there is in life.

But they also have a point.

A whole generation waited to have a parental figure tell them what they should do. And many are still waiting. Many with great careers in fruitful industries. Some of the entitlement comes from never really seeing the benefit or the wealth of fulfilling a daily mandate, and not allowing that mandate to rule all facets of your life. But also vocalizing the fact that this day to day is a blessing, not a curse. Work is a good thing with benefits far beyond monetary worth, even when we don’t see it immediately. In fact, we do not need to see immediately. To see a world that is not based on “What can I get out of this?” is a value that comes with working. Not slaving, and not hating the job. But working without the brass ring. That attitude is priceless, and it enters into all that we do.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not human masters…” (Col. 3:23)

This can apply to all generational views. Really. And I have heard it defended so. Our social understanding of the times plays heavily into how we interpret what is the right course of action. If the tide puills one way, then we will lean that way. When it shifts the other way, well, there we go as well. Historically this is due to a corrective from one generation to the next, and it does not always work out well. With that in mind, has the so-called ‘9-5’ ever been the dream? Has it ever been the most effective or even the most God-honouring format for a fulfilling work experience?

Not really. Otherwise we would have a whole generation of retirees bucking the system and getting a job.

Helping other people enjoy God

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This dialogue caught me as I started this chapter. The idea of growing tired from helping others enjoy God is usually phrased differently in my circles, but the meaning is still there. It hit me on a couple of levels.

Normally I would come across statements of ‘finding God’ or ‘honour God’ or even ‘serve God’, but never ‘enjoy God’. This thought of enjoying God being at the centre of my leadership is profound. All the other statements allude to my helping God in some way. Somehow I get the ball into people’s hands so God can finish the play. That is very tiring. I know many leaders in ministry who have suffered because of this practice. God does not need my help, He wants my heart. I must enjoy God to lead others in the same.

To help others do the same.

The focus is on other people seeing what enjoyment really is in another. I point to God by the way my heart is seeking and being filled by joy, but the life connection is enjoying this practice. This relationship. When I get selfish in a relationship, I am not seeking to enjoy it, but to feel self-satisfied in the moment. Rarely in that frame of mind is the other person put in a position to enjoy the relationship with me.

How do you enjoy God?

Find Your Motivation

What motivates you to do well?

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I think there are a number of factors that drive each and every one of us to do well in our work. For many, our passions need to be fueled by someone or something. Those who are motivated from within have come to a great place in life: Not needing approval or constant nudges to move in the direction they need to go.
For some, we just need a little spark of inspiration to get our fire fueled again. The passion is there, but we may allow the fringe elements to outweigh the mission or purpose at the heart. This blog is a good example of this, as my blog subject file is full, but the actual blogs are not being written. Just too many obstacles in my mind.
This calendar page from my ‘poop calendar’ gave me inspiration. I hope it inspires you as well, if for no other reason than the fact that this is not part of your job.
Enjoy your work week!

Do something tedious

I am one of those foolish people who believes that hard work would still have existed without sin in the world.

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There is something refreshing for the soul in tedious tasks such as weeding a walkway. We do so much in the way of working towards more leisure time that we do not realize how much wasted time we spend on leisure. Leisure in and of itself is not a bad thing, but it does not take a whole lot of thought to realize that working towards leisure becomes tiresome as a goal. And we soon get bored with the very leisurely activity that we chose to achieve. There is however something to be said about taking time to work on something that is not ‘work’. By this I mean working on something that is not your vocational focus and requires all of your weekly energy. Your work may be your passion and delight, but it may very well be the thing that is wearing you down.

Let me be clear here, I still dread on occasion the idea of going outside and working on something that isn’t on my schedule or does not seem like ‘fun’. And I can remember growing up how much I avoided the fact that I needed to go outside and weed the garden as I was told to do so by my parents. But I can also remember how when I actually took the task at hand and began to do the work, I realized that I was also more relaxed and I was able to collect my thoughts while working on this tedious task. Somehow, the tedious became leisure, and my soul would learn to become refreshed by doing so. Even though it was a chore it was as though God was teaching me a lesson on how to relax, collect my thoughts, and think through life . In turn, it made me a better worker for the things I saw as important. I learned that it both emptied and filled me simultaneously.

Today was a good reminder to take on the small tedious tasks that refresh the soul.

Parking Lot Parents

Dear Mom & Dad,

I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation with your child in the parking lot of the hotel as we all prepared to check-out. It was kind of hard to miss as mom’s voice kind of bounced off every wall around us, and all the birds and small animals went silent. It must have been a tiring and long trip considering the level of patience you were exhibiting. So, I figured I would write you this letter for future consideration regarding your parenting, and what it could look like in future generations.

My wife and I discussed what your ‘private’ parenting must be like if this is what happens in public. Most people tend to be a little more guarded about their actions and social perception, but we could be wrong here. If it is true for you, I truly feel for your children. I don’t say that lightly. We all lose our patience, we blow up from time to time, say things we should not have, get depressed, dehydrated, stressed out, and even adults need to have a ‘time out’ occasionally. (OK, some need more than an occasional ‘time out’) There is a range of acceptability on this for all of us as we grow into adulthood. It is the journey from childhood, reliant heavily on the examples we are given. Partly this is adulthood, part of it is the call of parenthood, moving people from home to the workplace as functional individuals in society.

It is part of the reason God created us in community, especially in the smallest form we call family, because this is how we keep ourselves in check. Our children learn how to develop their own system of personal accountability and agency by this means. Otherwise we become a nation of tyrants trying to appease an angry insatiable beast of want from within. That is bad. If every parent chose to live as individuals we would encounter a generation of adults who either shut others out, or expect others to fulfil all their internal needs. At the very least, they will assuredly know they are a burden in the setting of which they had no choice being placed.

For example, dropping F-bombs as you lean into the van, and using terms like “You’re just like your father”, while he is loading the van, may not be the best route to developing Kingdom-class adults. I’m almost certain that last statement was not meant to be a compliment to the man to whom you are betrothed. Just a guess. Consider for a moment that you are the first image of nurture, and the man holding the bags is the first insight into honour, and then reconsider your words. The interpretation of a life of love & respect are in your hands, until they pull themselves from your grip, and you will only be able to observe what they saw and experienced in your care.

A good friend once shared with me his view of parenting in a small apartment above another small family dwelling. His concern was that they only judged his family by the sounds produced when things got tense, but they could not hear the sounds of forgiveness and peace. There is an immense amount of grace available to those who choose to accept and share it. God grants this for all, and He is able to redeem all situations and relationships. But that involves us allowing it into our situation. If mom & dad do not accept and share grace, then kids struggle with it well beyond their upbringing.

So mom & dad, I will pray for you. I would love to be able to walk up to every vehicle in a parking lot and offer up a corrective, but that is usually frowned upon. Especially in an already tense scenario. My hope is that you encounter grace, and learn how to live in it for the future generations you impact through the home you are creating.

Sincerely,
Eric

Right to Bear Arms

20140805_170251_AndroidTravelling through the US this week I have seen my fair share of bumper stickers, t-shirts, and signs about the 2nd ammendment. It also happens to be my 20th anniversary today. Those 2 items have a lot in common, especially since my wife is an American.

I am reminded again and again of how young Mindi and I were when we got married. There was plenty of pressure to not go forward with our decision, to gain more life experience, to discover who we truly were, and make sure this was the right choice for our lives. I look back on it now and realize that if I had waited to find out who I truly was, Mindi would still be waiting at the altar, and I would have 4 less amazing people in my life. (Not counting all the amazing in-laws I acquired) I am still learning who I am, who God desires me to be, and thanks be to Him, Mindi continually does the same. What a lot of the advice-givers of yesteryear did not know then, but seemed to be pretty clear to me at the time, was that even in their ‘age of wisdom’, they were still making plenty of stupid mistakes. Some still are. Age did not seem to be a good indicator of maturity and wisdom back then, and that continues to be a truth I observe today.

So what have I learned in 20 years?  Plenty. But 2 facts stand out clearly above the rest, both from my American brethren, and I think they are really God-given choices in every circumstance we encounter. The freedom of speech and the right to bear arms. Each involves a choice in all circumstances. Many choose the latter as their right, alienating the other party for the sake of what they feel is theirs to own, and the relationship becomes a battlefield. Soon, every encounter is a war based on honouring self and destroying the other. We have that capability. It is not what God intended, but He allows us to make all the enemies we want over the stupidest issues we can manage to create.

But freedom of speech, that is an awesome gift. I have the gift of gab, and words spoken is considered my main love language, so I get this. When someone does not feel heard, I feel their pain. It is also my main weapon, as not hearing the right words can knowingly hurt another. We have a choice in every matter to speak truth and love into a situation, and it means a change to that situation. Further, it changes the other person. When we choose to speak, to work out each circumstance, we grow and bring life to the other. We cause oneness to be more than an ideal.

It is difficult to overcome our pride. Scratch that — It is difficult for me to overcome my pride. When we are hurt, when the other person seems malicious in their actions, when we are not understood, we take up arms. It becomes a right we think we need to exercise. Words becomes swords, actions become landmines, thoughts foster exaggerated fiction of what the other ‘might’ have meant/felt/intended. The most difficult battle we encounter in a committed covenanted relationship is to extend grace we ourselves do not deserve.

Mindi and I have encountered many tough circumstances. Had many heavy heart-to-hearts. Struggled, rejoiced, cursed, screamed, kissed, etc. etc. But through everything, she is the one I chose and believed to be the wife God intended for me to have. We are more in love now than ever, and have had the joy of learning from one another through the years. Age has nothing to do with the outcome thus far, only the resolve to grow closer through every circumstance we encounter together. And much of this has depended greatly on choosing not to bear arms, but rather speaking life into those circumstances.

You want the simple lesson learned over 20 years?
Listen.
Say the words you know need to be said.
Stop waiting for the other person to say what you think they should say.
Fall in love with the person who stuck with you, and learn to show them this is the truth.

Throwback Thursday #tbt

So I decided as a special treat, and in honour of #tbt, I would repost the first blogpost I ever published on a Thursday. Turns out it was a great memory, and a good reminder for life and ministry. I really looked up to my uncle, so his funeral stood as a mile marker on my personal road.

Enjoy!

I’ve had the privilege of witnessing more than a few funerals in my time. There is something special about grieving with those who grieve, honouring the life that was and considering the hope of what is to come. We do definitely remember the best in a person as we lay them to rest. A week ago Sunday I was blessed. As we cherished the memory of my uncle, packed into the church to pay our respects, there was an overwhelming sense that everyone there had been impacted deeply by his life and ministry. There were no patronizing cliches. No empty words. No forced sentiment. Just testimony upon testimony of a man bent by God, and by being faithful to Him, inspired, encouraged and influenced everyone he met. I was inspired. There was joy in remembering. There was encouragement in the many stories of a life lived faithfully. There was a challenge to live by God’s calling.

Lord, thank you for funerals that remind us to live the life you have called us to live.