Changes in Generational Expectations
I often joke with my wife who is 6 years my junior, about the differences in our generations. It’s funny really – because 7 years does not make a generation in anyone’s book. But in just those few short years, the world changed a great deal. What is even more interesting is how we each experienced those times before we met, and how it makes a difference in the way we remember things, how we reacted to those events and experiences, and in turn the effect is had on our lives. Silly, small things mostly, but different just the same.
As an example, I was a big Miami Vice fan, and she hates me in pastels and espadrilles. Go figure. Nixon’s resignation was a powerful event, as was the assassination attempt on Ronald Regan. Our musical tastes vary widely, as do our tastes in things like classic automobiles, books and movies. The list goes on.
Recognizing the effect that just 6 short years has had on the way we saw and felt things is interesting. I have always thought so. Today, I was reading a book titled, “Just Do Something” by Kevin DeYoung. The book is a quick look (under 150 pages) at understanding God’s will in your life, and in general. It’s a good read so far, and I like the direction it is going. The main theme is this:
If we all wait for solid direction from God to be certain that we are in His perfect will, there’s a very good chance that we will end up doing nothing with our lives of any value.
That’s a good theme and one worth spending some time on, but not where I wanted to focus on today.
There was a line in the book that really go me to thinking, and this is what I wanted to flesh-out in this post. Using 5 examples as to why most people sit and wait for the full knowledge of God’s perfect will in their lives (thereby doing nothing), one of the reasons DeYoung suggested was – we all would like to have the total fulfillment of God’s perfect will in our lives. Every good Christian’s desire, and its a good one, is to please God. We want to be certain that every move we make, every step we take (thank you Sting!), is exactly what God had planned for us to do in our lives. In other words, we do not want to do anything that might disappoint Him.
Another way to put it, is that we want to live perfect lives.
You see, just the idea of reading that sentence is enough to let us know the folly in that very thought. Not only will that never happen, it cannot ever happen. We are all sinners (Romans 3:23), born with sin in us (Psalm 51:5), and no man, other than Jesus that paid the price for us all, will ever live a sinless life (2 Corinthians 5:21). Yet, this is the thought that holds us back.
But that said, if you still intend to try to live a life that will not disappoint God at some point, good luck with that. But in addressing that very issue, DeYoung commented in this way:
“By and large, my grandparents generation expected much less out of family life, a career, recreation and marriage”
Wow. Think about that for a minute. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents and I’m better off for it.
When I consider what they truly did expect out of life, I came to understand that what they truly expected out of life, were for the most part negative things. They expected from life that things would not always be easy. They expected that there might be war, where their sons and grandsons and neighbors might be called off to fight and die. They expected lean times, times when they might be hungry or cold. They expected economic crashes, and times when it would be really difficult to make ends meet. They expected that of they wanted a better education, that college would be difficult and expensive. And they expected that they would be with their spouse through thick and thin, good times and bad, sickness and health, richer and poorer. They expected to live in an America where it was not a crime to teach the Word of God in truth, and you could pray in school.
By design, by accident, or just by chance, those expectations are lost. The young adults of today have a wholly different outlook on life, and a completely different set out expectations.They do not expect that their might be tough time when they would have a hard time making ends meet. Instead, the expect that the government should give them a free cell phone. They expect that government should pay off their college debt so that they can have a “fair shot” at life without the burdens of the debt they willfully created. They do not expect times when they might be sick, because the government is going to give them free health care – paid for by the swat of the balance of the working class through more burdensome taxes – but they don’t care. They do not expect financial crashes, rather that the government will bail out big businesses that would otherwise fail, and banks that have stolen from the already poor to fund programs they knew were destined to fail – and yet were mandated by the government. They expect that as soon as they enter the work force that they should be given a 6-figure salary and nice house in the ‘burbs with all the furnishings – things that took dozens of years for couples to earn in the past. What they expect is everything, now, instantly, and at no cost financially or any burden to them.
My adult life has not been a bed of cherries. I married at 27, began having children at 31, worked several jobs along the way, had plentiful times (mostly before I knew what to do with them), and lean times. Still in a lean period right now. There were, and still are, times when you look at the bank account and the bills and say, “OK, God – I need some help here.” I’ve been sick with bad pneumonia. My children have had severe burns, broken bones massive bee sting attacks. My marriage is wonderful, but we went through some hard time early on like so many others have – and I thank God for them as we have both grown and learned more about each other and about love in the process.
The general changes in expectations have changed America. It’s changed out outlook for the furture, and it’s changed the Greatest Generation, into the
But I did not expect a bowl of cherries – and I rather like cherries. What I did expect – is the same thing my grandparents expected. Tough times, mixed with good times, mixed with success mixed with failure, mixed with love and mixed with liberty. And, I now expect one more thing.
I expect that no matter what happens tomorrow God will be there for me. I expect that whatever He has before me, that it is what’s best for me whether I understand it or not. I expect that there will be fiery trials (I Peter 4:12), and times of trouble and turmoil, because I live in a fallen, sinful world. I expect that I will be persecuted, because He was persecuted. I expect to be hated, because He was hated. I expect to have to be faithful, to be prayerful, to be ever running to win the race that is before me. If I have fun along the way, I’m a blessed man. I expect little or nothing else. I have not been disappointed in my expectations.
What we really want out of life, where our heart really is, will determine what our expectations will be. If we expect a life of luxury, ease, and an adulthood with as little responsibility as possible, our expectations in life will be government handing things to us, free health care, abortions, and a college education with all my debt paid for me. If rather, we desire to be followers of Jesus, our expectations will reflect that and we will expect those fiery trials – and an eternity that will make all of it make sense humble us before our God.