When I was in high school it took me a while to find a group of people with whom I felt like I belonged. I was quiet, unconfident, unsure of who I was, and even more unsure of where I was going. After a year of this I got tired of waiting around for the right place or thing, and just decided to try something unfamiliar. At the time a few of my friends were involved in my school’s Army JROTC program and they invited me to try it out for a semester. Unsure of it, as I may have been, I signed up for the class.
My first day there I was greeted by my instructor, the Sergeant Major. He had served in the US Army for quite some time in various combat operations, as well as trained many up and coming Army recruits. To put it simply, he understood leadership. He understood integrity and discipline, and he also understood how to bring out the hidden qualities in people that they didn’t know they had in order to make them better and more confident as leaders and as people. I wanted to be like him and to learn from him. He was happy to take on the challenge.
SGM Tuggle taught me and guided me, helping turn me into something different than what I was. By the time I arrived at my senior year I had traded in my insecurity, lack of will, lack of direction, and lack of confidence for the opposite. I knew who I was, what I was capable of, where I wanted to go, and I had the drive to push towards it. Why? Because someone far wiser and more knowledgeable than me cared enough about me and my peers to invest himself into our lives and bring out the best in us. I will never be the same because of it.
Throughout the course of my college career, I have talked to a large number of students who all echo the same idea. It usually sounds something along the lines of, “I’d love to have someone in my life to help guide me in this,” or, “I wish I had someone who’s been doing this a while to give me advice,” or even, “I feel like I could make a much better decision about this area of my life if I had someone who cared enough about me to take the time to help.” It is interesting to me that so many of my peers seem to have a need and desire for mentorship and help in their life endeavors. Though interesting as it may be, it is not surprising at all.
One of the main reasons why who I was as a person changed so drastically is that I had someone who was willing to counsel me in those areas where I needed it. This made all the difference.
On the other hand, though I often hear these statements from my peers, I’ve also listened to others from preceding generations regarding us Millennials. I am sure you’ve heard them as well. It sounds something like this: “Millennials expect everything to be given to them. They don’t want to earn it for themselves because they’re arrogant and entitled.” “Millennials just want instant gratification when they put effort into anything so they don’t have to work hard.” An eye-roll usually follows shortly after I hear these statements being made. To be fair, there are those of us who may have the expectation of things being dropped into their hands so they don’t have to work hard for it, which I agree is childish and unrealistic. However, there are those of us who want something quite different entirely.
Rather than desiring the materialistic, the easy path, or a high return for a low effort, I see a desire for something far more useful in myself and my peers: guidance. From a Christian perspective, could you imagine the implications if Christ had never drawn His disciplines in to learn from Him and accept His counsel? Matthew would have stayed a sinful and hated tax collector (Matthew 9:9-13). The Church would have had no rock to be built upon because only through Christ’s teaching and guidance was Peter able to be charged with that responsibility and calling (Matthew 16:17-19). The point here is that Jesus chose to invest in the lives of His disciples, and because of His choice His disciples were equipped and empowered to carry out the work that would have exceptional impact for generations to come (Matthew 16:24-27).
As a group they were his disciples, but individually He was their mentor and role model.
To the generations preceding me who may be reading this, I urge you to acknowledge the truth through open-mindedness and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is your calling and charge from the Lord to raise up the generations beneath you, as is it my generation’s calling to respect your influence and seek out your guidance with humble and honest hearts.
Also realize that your influence and knowledge are far more powerful than you may realize. If you do not teach us, who will? To those of you who are living this out, you are following the example of Christ and are raising up those who look up to you just as Christ did.
Through a simple word of wisdom, encouragement, or guidance, you can drastically alter the lives and perspectives of those who are preparing themselves to eventually step into the same positions, roles, and callings you now stand in. We do not want your money. We do not want the easy way through. We do not want the nice sounding answer. However, we do want your friendship. We want to be better, smarter, wiser, stronger, and more Spirit-filled. Those of us who are arrogant suffer from arrogance because we suffer from ignorance. Help us to grow through it.
Rather than simply giving us the answer, teach us how to pursue it for ourselves.
To my generation, for those of you who would seek out mentorship and guidance, do so with a humble and thankful heart, or not at all. Wisdom and guidance are gifts from the Father imparted to His people, AKA the generations preceding us. Do not make the mistake of taking it for granted, and do not make the assumption that your current state of understanding is satisfactory for the calling on your life. Guidance, knowledge, and wisdom are ongoing processes. If they are not, then we will remain where we are, stagnant and ignorant of the people we could be if we only pressed forward into the resources made available to us through the example of Christ and the guidance of our eventual or existing mentors.