I don’t know about you, but I automatically stop listening when people call our generation “entitled.” When I hear that word, I imagine a bunch of rich, lazy kids who expect their parents to pay for everything. I picture people who party all the time and aren’t motivated because they’re used to having things handed to them. I think of people who have no desire to make a difference in this world unless it serves their own selfish desires.
Although this might be an accurate description of some twenty-somethings, it seems to have become an offensive, unfair generalization to describe our generation. I know so many twenty-somethings who are passionate and motivated to see positive change and do something really important with their lives, and aren’t afraid to go out and see that accomplished. I believe that this generation can be the generation that brings change to a broken system of government, develops programs to decrease poverty, teaches in schools where people have been afraid to teach, questions how the world works. These are the people I went to college with and am surrounded by, especially in DC.
But the more I think about it, “entitled” might also mean something different. I think one of the biggest temptations for twenty-somethings is to think, or maybe even expect, that the world-changing, high-reward accomplishments will happen right away, or even on our planned timeline. It’s easy for us to be so motivated that we’re disappointed when our high expectations aren’t immediately realized. You might want to be the next Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, but you’re probably going to have to write about some mundane school board meetings first. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and all those other cliches about process.
I hear twenty-somethings talking about settling and the fear of just accepting what’s comfortable. And I think those are valid concerns. We can miss amazing opportunities by just seeking comfort. We’re afraid of dumbing ourselves down or lowering our standards. But if we’re not careful, those fears can be a product of pride.
I’ve seen so many people my age who end up disappointed when they realize they can’t have everything when they graduate from college and that their dreams take work. Well-intentioned plans still have a process. I think we can change the world, but I also believe in baby steps. That musician who got famous off of one single overnight is probably just an exception. Or there are a few old albums you don’t know about that have never seen the light of day. Because dreams take work.
Whether it’s landing a dream job or working through an emotionally trying issue or seeing someone you love recognize the truth and love of Jesus, we can’t forget the process. Sometimes those seasons are long and exhausting and hard and full of loss and disillusionment. But those seasons are also where our relationships are built and where we learn the most about God, ourselves, and the world around us. If we give in to the temptation that we don’t need to endure the process, we’ll be extremely disappointed when we encounter those seasons.
Step by step, little by little.