Thursday, May 25, 2017

7 Questions to Ask yourself when Engaging "Millennials"

7 questions engaging millenials
While a catchy title for today's blog post, I find categories such as "Millennials" unhelpful especially when the term has more of a negative connotation today.  Our society is increasingly marginalizes people (and groups) by creating these categories.  There is a deep need for communities that exemplify encouragement, support, collaboration, and empowerment at its core--fundamentally, communities built on trust and authentic relationships.  We are all made in the image of God.  Categories and labels seek to divide and separate. 

In Scripture, we read of the relationship between The Apostle Paul and his young disciples Timothy and Titus who traveled, ate, and spent life together.  Because of Paul and his investment and pouring his life into in these two young men, Timothy and Titus became heavyweights (in their own ways) in proclaiming the gospel to the people of their time and building up the early Church. 

Today we are faced with a challenge of how to work together--cross-generations.  There is also a significant need for mentors and coaches.  In order to create more engaging work environments and church communities, we need to make a dramatic shift in our cultures.  I've compiled a list of seven questions to help spur dialogue for moving forward together.   Actually, I don't think these questions are specific to "Millennials".  Importantly, the questions are to help us listen better to each other and listening together.   Here we go:

1.  How well are we communicating the purpose and why?

Rather than telling others what to do or dictating how another should live their life, how are we helping others discover for themselves who they are and who God has called them to be and do?  Rather than tell them what needs to change, begin with explaining the Why and implications, but let the other person come up with the action plan and application. Simon Sinek Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action and Ken Costa Know Your Why: Finding and Fulfilling Your Calling in Life have books on the subject.  More, we also need to be communicate the vision and bigger picture of God's mission, and how we participate in God's mission. 

2.   How are we creating a work environments and faith communities that value people as inherently valuable? 

People (not their wallets, not their gifts, not talents and abilities) are not a resource and a means to an end.  
Are we valuing each person as an individual created by God and in God's image? Are we valuing their individual gifts and strengths--there is no hierarchy of skills that God appreciates more or less.  We are the body of Christ.  Do others feel that they are valued? It's not good enough that they know--they really need to experience it.  Importantly, while we are a body/community/team/company, we are also made up of individuals made uniquely by God.  Everyone is a child of God.  

3. Do we trust others and empower them to do it? 

Trust and empowerment is essential for developing people to become mature followers of Jesus and grow into confident mature adults.  This means believing in the person, and allowing the person to carry out what they believe to be the best actions forward.  I say "best" because in reality, there is no "right" action forward.  In other words, to empower them to make a difference and release them to do it.  I believe that those same individuals, when empowered, will commit to the initiative and find ways to make it happen when they believe in the purpose themselves and when others believe in them.  This also means providing the support, resources, and encouragement when the other encounters failure.   As part of this, how are we coaching and mentoring others--investing in them as they discover God's calling for themselves?

4.  What are their values and what do others actually value? What is their passion and God's calling for them as best as they can discern at that moment?

Everyone's values are different.  What we think is important to another person, is likely not what is important to them.  This requires listening--really listening.  This means understanding the ways a person is appreciated, motivated, and rewarded; this requires knowing them as individuals.   For example, While I enjoy a cup of espresso, don't buy a coffee card for someone who doesn't drink coffee.  More, God's calling for everyone will also be unique and it is important to understand (and help others to discern) God's calling for them as best as they can discern at that moment and to support them in their calling; The big mistake is to impose or rush a person into what we think God is calling the other person to.  Be patient with others.  It's a life long journey. 

5.  Are we creating environments where each person has a voice and creating spaces where new ideas can be expressed and questions can be asked? 

Environments that exude trust, collaboration, and openness allow for a free-flow of ideas and individual expression of who we are uniquely created by God.  This includes, creating spaces where people can practice their craft. More, to create spaces where people can ask questions without being judged or criticized. Learning includes learning about failure and how to fail well. Learning is also more effective when a person discovers the answer themselves rather than having answers fed to them all the time. 

6.  Do we invite those on our communities to help define what the path forward looks like?  

Rather than having an agenda and setting a path for others to follow; sometimes leadership does require that, however, how are we facilitating in those discussions for how to move forward together before presenting the path forward? How are we discerning God's call for the community together and coming along side each other for the journey forward.  This includes listening to the cries and concerns of the people.  

7.  Lastly, how are we living out these values and being a positive influence to those around us?  

This is about having integrity and being authentic persons.  Our theology and what we believe informs our actions, and our actions demonstrate what we believe.  More, we need to have the courage to demonstrate vulnerability, humility, and openness with our lives. 

I hope the list of 7 questions is helpful; definitely not an exhaustive list.  

Who are the Paul's in your life? Who are the Timothies and Tituses who are in need of a mentor and coach?  Who are your co-partners in the journey?

"Be the change that you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi

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