“I am tired of people criticizing my generation,” wrote a Millennial in our recent questionnaire. “Why can’t people just listen — and then call out the best in me? Even if they are considered an elder, I want a friend. I want someone to help me thrive and succeed. And I think I can help them see from a different perspective about what I see in them.”
“You’re simply the best,” sang Tina Turner in her landmark 1980s hit. What does it take to call out the best in someone? First, it takes noticing them and letting them know they matter. You matter. You are significant. You count. You don’t always have to tell someone this especially if you treat them as if they do. That’s even better than words.
What if I told you that someone died so that you might live? Wouldn’t that make a difference? You were worth dying for. In Christian circles, we hear these words so often that the true meaning sometimes gets watered down. De-spiritualize it and think again about someone dying for you. Someone stepped in front of a bullet for you; someone pulled you off the track before they got hit; someone fell on a grenade for you; someone paid your sentence so you could go free. In all these cases there is a value placed on you that someone felt you were worth saving.
That’s where our value begins. But there’s more — so much more. There is the fact that you are you. Your uniqueness makes you one of a kind. There is no one like you. You are the best version of you there is. No matter who you are, “You’re simply the best.”
But there’s more. There are spiritual gifts given out to all believers — some special way in which you contribute to those around you. You are gifted to give.
All these things are first true about you, and then they are true about those around you so knowing this should color how we treat others.
Millennials are simply asking to be valued for who they are. And they are asking for a relationship — a friendship — with give and take. They’re not looking for a mentor as much as they are looking for a friend, and they are even willing be a friend with an “elder.” And if that’s you, and that makes you feel old, forget it. You’re only as old as you think you are.