Watch Yourself, Millennial! Ways You Accidentally Offend: Part 1

My generation is...misunderstood. Actually, I don't understand us all the way. We are a weird breed. We grew up as the internet was beginning to take over, which is a new thing for this world. Then there was social media, and now smart phones. We've become accustomed to wearing our hearts on our digital sleeves, but we are pretty darn oblivious to a lot of things. Here are a few of the things I have learned to avoid by being a Millennial in leadership, and I hope they help you out too.

Photo by Lightstock.com

Photo by Lightstock.com

PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE, FOOL

I'm so guilty of this, ask my husband. I pick up my phone the second I'm bored, and I get bored fast. I quickly realized that my habit of boredom-induced phone usage was even creeping into my conversations with people. That's not good. I would walk away from a conversation that ended abruptly only to realize I had gotten my phone out during the conversation, and then I would feel like such a turd. Most of the time I would pull it out innocently, you know, to google a fact, to make note of something to remember, something like that, but they didn't know that. I just looked like a total jerk. So our conversation ends quickly. Potential ministry to that person is lost. Then there have been other times where I would just get bored (usually in a group conversation) and start checking Facebook or Twitter. I was listening, don't get me wrong, I was just...multi-tasking.

I've made a serious conscious effort to avoid even touching my phone when I'm talking with someone now. If they approach me when my phone is in hand, I immediately try to set it down, or stick it in my pocket. If it's not in my hands, it's less tempting to check. Now I only pull out my phone in a conversation if it directly benefits the person I am talking to, and when I do, I explain why I'm pulling it out. For instance, sometimes we are setting up a meeting time and I want to add it to my calendar (if I don't I will forget about it), I explain to them why I'm pulling out my phone when I do. Once I explain, they usually give me a second to get everything saved, and then we continue our conversation and my phone goes back on the desk face-down or into my pocket.

This habit is so important to master because this behavior says so much about how you value the person you are chatting with. We tend to downplay our phones as a distraction because everyone does it, but we need to see that giving a person our undivided attention is a way that we can love a person well.

Read Parts 2 and 3 of this post!

Comfortable vs. Called

ComfortableVsCalled.jpg

I'm not sure about you, but when I imagined my professional life and home life as an adult, all I pictured was ease and comfort. Luckily for me, God cleared up that fantasy real quick, but it hasn't been nearly as horrible to live uncomfortably as you would think!

In my dreams, I was a graphic design professional bringing in a decent salary every year and wearing adorable clothes all the time. Oh and we were going to pay off our mountain of student loan debt in 2-3 years flat. We'd spend a little time here in Maryland and then journey back to Texas where our family is living, then settle down.

In my reality, I was blown off by the first company that said they had hired me, I spent the greater part of my first year here unemployed, and most of my second barely employed while volunteering my skills at Severn Run. Money wasn't great, my wardrobe did not improve, and 3 years later we are finally starting to put some money in savings while gradually chiseling down that mountain of student loan debt. Here's the stupid part: I wouldn't trade my reality for my dreams. I would pick this God-given reality over my fabricated lifestyle every time. Every. Stinking. Time. Which is really ridiculous when you start thinking about it.

The amazing part about having the privilege to learn this amazing God-truth so early in my life is now I'm prepared to be uncomfortable for the rest of my life!

Now I'm not talking about always being financially uncomfortable, I really do believe that God has always taken care of us, and now that I know I'm a better steward of my funds, I've already seen him bless in neat ways. I'm pretty sure discomfort will manifest in different ways all the time, but here are a couple experiences that have already come around in my role as Brand & Communications Director at Severn Run.

THE SPOTLIGHT:

Man, this one is the worst for an introverted lady like me. I went a full year at Severn Run without being introduced to our congregation, and I secretly loved it. For a full 52 weeks, I flew under the radar, did what needed to be done and then went home, and it was marvelous!

Not long after that great year, it got out that I'm a pretty decent public speaker. The Creative Team knew this the whole time, but I don't know how the pastoral crew found out. It was probably all of that profound wisdom I kept dropping in Sunday planning meetings. Oh well.

During one of these great meetings that last all of a Tuesday morning, my lead pastor, Drew Shofner, asked if I was ready yet to do the welcome time in our services. The idea had been tossed around before, so I had been wrestling with it for a while; this time I said yes and there it was, the spotlight, glaring in my face.

That Sunday I introduced myself from stage, welcomed our guests, and shared one key thing happening at Severn Run that week, and then as I was walking back in to our Atrium I heard it, "Hey, did you hear? That girl right there is our new communications person!" Dang.

I've been speaking from stage (and now I'm featured on our video announcements) on an almost weekly basis for a solid 6 months now and I'm still not used to feeling so relatable to complete and total strangers. Sunday afternoons are comprised of naps, chocolate, and silence in my house because Sunday Mornings are incredibly draining for me now. Aka - uncomfortable.

So why do I do it? Well it's simple. God is calling me to this, even though my introverted cells hate it so much. It's really amazing to see how God has really equipped you for his calling when you just shut up and follow it. I receive so much positive feedback on how my offering prayers touched someone, or how my goofy presence on The Rundown brightened their day. Never in 1 million years would I have guessed I would be making a difference in this way. I've always been a stagehand hanging out behind the scenes, not BEING the scene. Ew, I still hate typing it a little.

So why do I think it's my calling? Whenever I say that I'm following my calling in this way, The Voices (it's a reference to a sermon series, click it, I'm not nuts) try to tell me that I'm being really cocky. But once I shut that down, I'm confident in my calling because of the seeking I've done. At Severn Run, the millennial generation & women were severely underrepresented in the public eye. My stage presence has totally shifted that, and I'm hoping to see women and Millennials step up in big ways at Severn Run as a result.

THE CREATIVE LEADER:

This one is really new. We finally started planning for Christmas 2 weeks ago. We set aside some time to get together and talk through what our Christmas season was going to look like at Severn Run, and off the record my Executive Pastor had asked me to make a plan and lead the meeting.

Well I showed up the day of the meeting and my Exec. Pastor had double booked and wasn't there. Left in the room were my Lead Pastor, my Worship Pastor, me, and our Connections guy, and none of them knew that I was supposed to be in charge. Think about this for a second. The room was filled with men who were all older than me and had much more professional experience than I did. Their experience points had to quadruple mine on paper! In a quick second, I decided to just take a follower role out of comfort. Not going to lie, the first 20 minutes or so of that meeting was a train wreck. Why? Because I chose to be comfortable in my normal role of following. Even though I had spent hours preparing the night before, I shirked back and let our lead pastor take the reins because I felt uncomfortable leading him without John (Exec. Pastor) gently handing me the reins in front of him (which if you know our lead pastor, Drew Shofner, you know how ridiculous I was being). After we spun in useless circles for a while (not because my lead pastor is a bad leader, because he isn't. He's really the best. He was just unprepared to lead that particular meeting.), I finally stood up and took control. It was the most productive meeting ever (exaggeration), and we came up with some really innovative stuff for our church community to experience this Christmas. (Severn Runners, you can pick up your invite card packs THIS SUNDAY!)

I floored my lead pastor with how we got organized and he even kept me after we closed to let me know that he was appreciative of my leadership and impressed by my mad organizational skills (not a direct quote, but pretty close).

SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU?

Well I hope that my scattered stories can help you see that God calls us out of our comfort-zones more often than he calls us into them. If you are feeling a tug towards something and rationalizing your way out of it because it's not something you feel comfortable with...maybe it's time to reconsider. I don't believe that God calls us to things he hasn't already gifted us to do, the thing is you may not yet realize that you have that particular gifting! I know that the church would be in a better place than it is now if we followed God's calling out of our comfort-zones more often. How are you being called? Are you ignoring it? Are you listening for it? Maybe it's time to follow the call and allow yourself to be over-awed by how God uses you!


Not sure how to hear your calling?

You're in luck, Severn Run did a great series on hearing God's voice over the noise recently. Check out "The Voices" below.

Image from Unsplash.com