37 Lessons For The Christian Millennial: Birthday Edition
On Tuesday October 15th, I celebrated by 37th birthday. I didn’t celebrate with a lavish party or 3 foot metallic number three and seven balloons. I did what I wanted to do.
I went to the movies all day and I loved it!
And as usual, I started my day with prayer, thanking God for allowing me to see another year.
As I prayed, I began to jot down a list of things I’ve learned over the years, and I’d like to take the time to share them. While in many ways, I’m still figuring out life and marriage, I believe there are a few solid lessons that can help someone, somewhere.
Get a glass of wine and popcorn and journey with me through these life lessons!
1 Let me just set the record straight. You NEED Jesus! So often, we’ve been led to believe that we can figure it out on our own. I’ve learned that it’s impossible. Get connected.
2 You NEED a church home! Yeah, I said it. An important mandate of our Christian faith is to be in community with our brothers and sisters in Christ. You can’t uphold your faith by being a permanent member of Bedside Baptist.
3 I know you’ve experienced church hurt, so have I. Listen, I’ve been hurt by spiritual leaders who probably still very much believe that I am going to hell because I no longer wanted to worship at their church. But, I’ve learned that my connection with Christ is not determined by broken relationships with broken human beings.
4 Your spiritual leaders are NOT your saviour. Jesus is. Developmentally, we experience a period where our view of God is determined by the way we view our spiritual leaders (as children, this view is based on the child’s parents). This is the time frame where we begin to form our own relationship with Christ, which has nothing to do with the personalities of our spiritual leaders.
5 Be careful about who’s spiritual leadership you are under. Sadly, there are some “preachers” who are preaching versions of the gospel that are inaccurate, and steeped in white supremacy, patriarchy, sexism, and oppression. Check your leader’s credentials, and then grow in your personal relationship with Christ. God will show you where you need to be.
6 Get a Prayer Life! 5 minutes on the way to work or 10 minutes before you pass out from exhaustion at night is not enough. Just like physical relationships, we need quality time with our Saviour. Take the time to develop the habit of spending time with God, which includes a period reflection and listening.
7 Worship is not about you! It’s not about what you wear. It’s not about who is present. It’s not about which choir sings. It’s not about the preacher’s whoop and holler. It’s about God! Your desire for God can only be fulfilled through worship.
8 As millennials, I know you’re trying to secure the bag. But, let me drop this here; the bag will never be secured if you don’t tithe. Tithing is not about the church, the pastor, or the pastor’s car. It’s about your obedience to God. Everything you earn belongs to God. You tithing 10% of your earnings is a faith issue, which says to God “I trust you with everything, including my money”.
9 I know you want passport stamps, but it’s ok to skip bathing with baby elephants in Thailand because you are paying off your student loans. Don’t feel pressured to go everywhere and have everything, just because other folk are doing it. Trust God’s timing. Note: You’re probably saving yourself from a case of ringworm anyway!
10 Invest in your own retirement NOW! I know the thought of getting older for many of us seems like light-years away. It’s not! The economy has shifted. The Social Security program will be bankrupt before many of us reach retirement. Open your own Roth IRA or 401K and start saving…especially if you really want to get to those dirty baby elephants.
11 You don’t need every pair of Jordan’s. You don’t need every pair of Louboutin’s. You don’t need every Gucci bag. Don’t allow materialism and capitalism to put you in debt. Don’t let social media influencer’s, celebrities, or your peers convince you that you need material possessions to feel good about yourself. All of it can burn in a fire.
12 Learn to give generously. Millennials are often stingy. I’m just keeping it real. We feel that we work hard for our money, so we don’t want to waste it on things that don’t personally impact us. When you understand that God is the reason you have resources, you won’t have a problem giving to others.
Note: For more information on budgeting and saving, I recommend The Budgetnista!
13 Not everyone is your friend! It’s levels to this. Learn to differentiate the levels in your circle. Close friends are those people who you can be YOU with. You know each other in an intimate way (not sexually, even though a spouse will be in the close friend category), and you can share your real self. Friends are those “we cool” relationships. May share similarities. May hang out. Acquaintances are folk you may see on a regular basis and are cordial with. No personal information needs to be shared. The public are folk who have no real connection to your life. Move accordingly.
14 Now that you understand the levels of friendship, it will be easier to set realistic expectations of folk. Don’t expect Close Friend behavior from Acquaintances.
15 People will betray you. Now, I believe when you are betrayed by folk, they are not typically in the “close friend” category. If they were, you placed them in the wrong category from the jump. Discern who needs to be where.
16 You will have haters. This was a tough lesson for me to grasp because I really don’t have a jealous bone in my body. I believe God gives each of us gifts and skills. My gifts might be different from yours, and that’s OK. I genuinely want the best for other people. Not everyone thinks this way! People will dislike you because of what they feel they lack. Your clothes, your swag, your gifting, your job, your spouse, your looks, and on and on. That’s their insecurities. Pray for your haters. Walk in your anointing.
17 When God sends you close friends, value them and love them.
18 Don’t be afraid to walk away from people who may have shared a space in your circle at an earlier time in life. Not every person is meant to stick around for a lifetime. It’s OK to walk away. God will replace, replenish, and restore lost “friendships”.
19 Don’t allow people to manipulate you into staying in an unhealthy friendship (goes for relationships too). Friendships that cause you emotional, physical, spiritual, and/or mental harm, are not healthy, and should be severed immediately, and then go to therapy! #JesusAndTherapy
20 Everyone smiling in your face and calling you “girlfriend” and “brother” are not your friends. Ask God to help you discern where folk belong in your circle and govern yourselves accordingly. Thanks Mom Mom for teaching me this lesson!
21 You can choose to distance yourself from people and still show them God’s love, regardless of how ugly they may have been to you. Let God handle it. Love God. Love People.
22 You need folk to guide you who have traveled down life’s path before you. Ask God to lead you to those people.
23 You have to be in a position to receive constructive criticism. I know we think we know it all. However, the bible tells us to seek wise counsel, which may not always line up with what we think. Be humble enough to admit your shortcomings.
24 Not everyone is worthy to be a mentor. Just because you are impressed with a person’s life story, or their success, they may not be in the position to guide you.
25 If done correctly, a mentor should become a person in the “close friend” category, with the understanding that an older mentor is not a peer. However, the relationship should certainly allow both the mentor and the mentee to operate in authenticity and truth.
26 Don’t ever allow your worth to be determined by your job. You may have a great position. You may make great money. The job does not define you!
27 If you’re able to, find something that you enjoy doing. I don’t believe a job has to be a total nightmare. If you enjoy serving people, then a job as a restaurant hostess or a job as a bank teller, or a job as a council person would be great for you. If you dislike people, greeter at Walmart will probably not be a good match.
28 Don’t be afraid to leave a toxic job environment. If you trust God, know that God will provide for you. Then, seek employment in an environment that does not destroy your physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual health.
Lawd, I know some of ya’ll have been waiting for this section!
29 Ladies, getting married and bearing children does not define your existence. When you are content with the gifts God has given you, and content with your position in life, you can stop believing the lie that if you just lie at the feet of Boaz for long enough, he will notice you and save you from your misery. We’ve been taught that story out of context (another blog for another day).
30 Fellas…listen! I know you have the advantage of being able to reproduce for life. But please don’t think that a woman should wait for you, because you’re so special. We (women) are embracing ourselves and moving away from this toxic white-washed version of masculinity that we’ve all been taught. We ain’t waiting!
31 Ladies, please refer to number 30, and don’t make me out to be a liar. You don’t need a man to complete you! If your desire is marriage, stop getting with folk who want to date for 20 years.
32 God designed us to be in relationships with others. That doesn’t necessarily mean marriage. There are some women (and men) who don’t desire marriage and children, and that’s OK! Now go read this!
34 Marriage does not come with a guidebook. Basically, you have to figure it out on your own. We error when we attempt to use other people’s relationship/marriage to shape our own. No marriage is alike.
35 Single folk, sex does not make the relationship better! God designed sex inside of marriage for a reason, and I believe it’s because God knew that we would get all attached and confused. Don’t feel pressured to “test it out” in the courting phases of a relationship.
36 Don’t allow the fear of being alone, keep you in unhealthy relationships (this can apply to friendships too). Relationships that cause you emotional, physical, spiritual, and/or mental harm, are not healthy, and should be severed immediately, and then go to therapy! #JesusAndTherapy
37 Walk in your authentic self!
Please don’t confuse authenticity with “I’m just going to be who I am”. Sometimes, the behaviors we exhibit towards our brothers and sisters in Christ are ones that we’ve used as a defense mechanism to shield ourselves from disappointment.
When you arrive in your authentic self, you are very much mindful of the way in which you present yourself to the world. First, we are Christians, so we must ensure that others see Christ in us.
If our attitude and our actions don’t line up with Loving God and Loving people, it’s time for an attitude adjustment. After we’ve aligned ourselves with Christ, we can be who God called us to be.
We will be OK with being misunderstood! We will be OK with being hated on! We will be OK with not being liked!
When we become confident in the skills and gifts that God has given us, this allows us to walk in our authentic selves.
Doing anything less robs us of our purpose!