Last week I heard a powerful description of Gen Y (the generation including those currently in their last few years of school).
James Lawrence said that, broadly speaking, Gen Y value choice over commitment. How heartbreaking.
Yet he’s so right. I’m sure you’re already recounting individuals or situations where that description rings through. I believe this generation is afraid of commitment – they would rather have an exit strategy and wait to see if something better comes up. It has become a generation that fears what it can’t control and hates the idea of ending up somewhere they don’t want to be. The sacrifice, though, is that they miss out. They undermine relationships and are also far less employable! Choice is a gift, commitment is a virtue.
In our culture, it is a blessing that most young people have choices as to their future. Even with the changing university fees, many new students could end up paying less than this year’s intake, and with apprenticeships and FE courses becoming more varied by the day, for most there is a menu of choices. However, to see our young people equipped to grow, not only in spiritual maturity, but also in employability, relational maturity and character we need to be teaching them how to commit. Commitment is a virtue. To be able to make a decision and stick to it is a strength. This may be a virtue that comes less naturally to this generation but it is one that we, their mentors and leaders, need to teach them in order to fully equip them for life.
It is a huge privilege, as a youth worker, to not just prepare a young person spiritually but also emotionally and socially for their future. Paul devotes a lot of time to teaching the early church how to live. These aren’t just spiritual platitudes, his letters address issues of work ethic, relationship advice, respect for authority, and personal integrity. If you wrote a letter to your young people giving them key advice for how to handle these things what values would you endorse? Commitment would definitely be on my list.
If we can tenderly teach this generation to be one that will commit – to God, to each other, to relationships, to diligent work, even to rotas (!) – then I believe they will be a great blessing to the world around them. We need leaders, throughout society, who are steadfast, reliable and whose yes is yes! Our young people have a God who is trustworthy, committed and promises to be with them wherever they go. Let’s teach them a confidence in him which enables them to discern their path and commit to it, in all areas of their life.