The millennial generation loves meaningful action. Fast Company reports that 62% of Millennials believe they can change their communities, and 40% believe they can change the world. We strive to make a difference, to be significant. But let’s stop for a moment and ask, “How is our desire to be significant satisfied?”
Christian or not, this desire for a meaningful life is carried across my generation. Today you easily find speakers and books talking about realizing your potential and accomplishing incredible goals. Most Millennials I know have a cause they champion.
I’m not speaking against ambition. Personally, I get jittery if I sit on my hands too long. I hate feeling useless. Yet I’ve realized sometimes my personal ambition becomes a self-centered striving for significance. Ambition can be twisted into pride and selfishness if not unwaveringly centered on the Gospel.
Here are several lies I’ve believed (this week) about being useful:
- If I’m not being useful, I’m missing God’s will.
- I need to be useful all the time.
- If I’m not useful, I’m useless.
At the root of it is one lie: My definition of “useful” is the same as God’s; therefore, my definition of “significant” is the same as God’s.
Finding the Why in our What
In the last few weeks I’ve been a part of a meetings for a new community my church is planting. We could spend a lot of time talking about exciting topics:
- Where will we meet?
- How are we going to grow?
- What do we want to look like in five years?
Instead, our group has spent the last three meetings coming together, worshipping, and discussing one question: Why are we here?
[share-quote author=”” via=”CamdenMcAfee”]Before you understand your what, define your why.[/share-quote]
You might have a passion to serve others. Before asking the question, “How can I serve others,” ask yourself, “Why do I want to serve others?” That might seem basic, but unpacking the answer could be the difference between running a sprint and running a marathon.
God cares far more about your character than about your action. He doesn’t want to redefine your big moments; He wants to redefine every moment. The Gospel keeps us from selfishly striving after great things for God; instead, it motivates us toward the greatest thing—knowing God.
Yesterday morning I sat down with my wife and opened our daily devotional from Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest. Here’s the beginning of that day’s devotional:
“In the natural life our ambitions alter as we develop; in the Christian life the goal is given at the beginning, the beginning and the end are the same, viz., Our Lord Himself. We start with Christ and we end with Him—“until we all attain to the stature of the manhood of Jesus Christ,” not to our idea of what the Christian life should be. The aim of the missionary is to do God’s will, not to be useful, not to win the heathen. He is useful and he does win the heathen, but that is not his aim. His aim is to do the will of his Lord.”
I don’t know what your passion or gifting is, but I know God wired you to care. Whatever your ambition, I challenge you to bring your “what” to God until you have a clear “why.”
The more we know God, the more our “why” will be defined, and our “what” will follow as we follow Jesus. Our greatest aim is not significance; our greatest aim is knowing God.