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Sue Edwards's picture

Got big plans? Great! But start small.

Research on the Millennial generation, women under 28, has discovered that some, maybe many, Millennials expect to realize their dreams quickly, without "paying their dues" or "rising up through the ranks". One reason, say sociologists, is that their helicopter parents bought them a trophy, even when they came in 13th. This "you are great no matter what" attitude skewed their expectations and failed to prepare them for the real world.

     I'm not so naive as to think that all Millennials grew up with doting parents, but for those who did, how can future mentors fan the flames of future hopes and dreams while peppering their counsel with a dose of hard reality? We who love and mentor Millennials live in this tension. I met this week with a lovely young woman who wanted to know how she could secure a position leading women. She was twenty-four and just beginning to learn about women. She was beautiful, both inside and out, humble and bright. Nevertheless, she is not ready to lead a large ministry to women. But she will be, and probably soon, if she perseveres and is willing to work under the guidance of a caring woman who has more experience.  
     At first, she may need to be content just to be enmeshed in a vibrant ministry, to observe and to stretch, to try out new ideas and opportunities, little by little. I had to tell her, "You may have to begin with your less-than-ideal dream job or ministry, just to gain experience and skill." Her seminary training will give her a definite advantage, but she probably won't immediately step into a large leadership role. Although notice I said "probably". I have seen several highly gifted mature young women lead a ministry extremely well. But for most of us, we need to start small.
     I sure did. I volunteered to work in the children's program of a women's Bible study just so I could rub shoulders in the leader's meeting with women I admired. In time, they drew me into their fellowship, loved me, and trained me. In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-3), Jesus told the good and faithful servant, "You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things..." God may actually orchestrate circumstances to season you and train you so you won't find yourself in a place where you are unprepared.
      So if you are young and God has put passion in your heart that leads you to dream of serving Him in a big way, great! The desire to make a name for Jesus is noble. But trust God to lead you to that place of service in His timing. In the mean time, use all your discretionary time to prepare. Read, study, intern, interview, observe, pray, and trust. God is preparing a place for you, not just in His eternal Kingdom, but here and now.
     If you are a Millennial, I'd love your feedback. If you find yourself mentoring Millennials, I'd love your feedback too. I am working with a dear friend on a related writing project, and we would love to make this a community project, gathering wisdom from both Millennials and their potential mentors. What do you know that would help others?

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