What are you doing with your life? Are you on the path to financial security? Do you have your 401k set up, putting in the max every year so that you can retire comfortably? Are you paying off your house and saving up your pennies so that one day, when you are too tired to want to do anything, you will be able to do whatever you want? I am a 32 year old newly wed who lives in Denver, CO and this affords me a unique opportunity to watch a micro sect of our society closely: the millennials trying to make sense of life.
I am from the midwest, and most of my high-school and college friends are married, ten years into their careers, with a few kids, a house and a dog. But cities like Denver attract those who have most fully bought into the pervasive mindset of our generation that our education demands that we be rewarded with high paying jobs, and these jobs are those that have meaning and purpose. Those whom we idolize the most are those who were able to innovate and/or create a solution to a world problem, and get rich doing so. We have spent 16-20 years of our lives in school learning how to be critical thinkers who value our own opinions, and we want to be clever and get paid well for being clever. Now, as we rapidly approach middle-age, our crises will be based more on the question, “Have I done anything meaningful?” rather than the sadness of having missed out on life.
We will have mid-life crises. They will just look different from that baby-boomers’ crises. Sure, some of us will divorce and marry a young person, some of us will buy expensive toys, but many of us will quit our jobs and start a new business, get involved in philanthropy and look for our position to change and impact the world.
“The long, dull, monotonous years of middle-aged prosperity or middle-aged adversity are excellent campaigning weather for the devil.”
– C. S. Lewis
But while our trials and struggles might be fueled by different passions, this is still an extremely dangerous time. As we begin to grapple with our mortality and the meaning of life, we will try to fill it up with self-affirming achievements. But as Christians, we know that when we die we will meet our maker and we will give an account for everything that we have done:
So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.
– Rom 14.12
“[God] will render to each one according to his deeds.”
– Rom 2.6
And if our goal, as Christians, is to hear God say,
“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
– Matt 25.23
then we can evaluate every action that we do here on the Earth by this simple question,
Is this glorifying to God?
Scripture gives us a few broad outlines for our daily tasks. For instance, Paul teaches us that the man who does not provide for his family is the worst kind of man out there:
“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
– 1 Tim 5.8
This does not mean that you have to be the most wealthy family on the block, but it does mean that men should not be lazy and should be diligent to provide for and take care of their responsibilities. This is honoring to God. We also know what God defines as sin, and we know how Christians are supposed to act. It is rooted in love for God and for our neighbors (Matt 22.37-39), and it is expressed in controlling our tongues (James 1, 4) and controlling our actions (Eph 4-5).
And Jesus gave us a singular commandment as He was leaving the world to return to Heaven:
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
– Matt 28.18-20
Are you making disciples? Wherever you are, even if you are squarely planted in the Bible belt, are you introducing people to Jesus and teaching them how to obey Him? Jesus gave us an assignment, and He will be the judge when we reach eternity’s gate. Will you pass? Will you be affirmed, “Well done”? Or will He say, “I gave you one thing to do and you never did it!”?
“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”
– C. S. Lewis
It is good for us to long to have meaning in our lives. My generation has been groomed to desire purpose and satisfaction in meaningful work. But let us be mindful to harness that energy and passion to focus on the glory of God and not our own personal legacy. Because we will all die and we will all be forgotten. But what we have done in obedience to God and unto His glory alone will last. Aim not to leave a legacy for mankind to venerate you, but for God to be honored.
What report do you want to give when you meet Him, face to face?