The Stuff Worth Having

I keep seeing and hearing the same thing from people around me. It sounds like “I wish I could just skip the next two years of my degree and just have it” or “I want to just wake up one day and have a degree and lots of money” or “It’d be so much better if I could just have my degree and a high-paying job right now.” And I’m sure these people genuinely feel this way.

They want to take the easy way. They want success and accomplishment handed to them. They want to be awarded with degrees and money and fame that they didn’t earn. As if that could somehow satisfy them.

Sure, college is hard. Yeah, debt isn’t fun. I get it, this is a lot to handle. You think it’s going to get easier? Honestly? Hate to break it to you, but it won’t.

The biggest thing that the generation before us sees in us millennials is our entitlement and expectation. For the most part, it’s an unfair generalization and is unhelpful, but stereotypes become stereotypes because of repeated occurrences by the same group of people. We do have a tendency to want things without working for them, to want the cake without actually taking the time to bake it.

The hard truth is that nothing worth having isn’t worth working for.

We college students talk all the time about how we see middle schoolers with iPhones and how they treat them like trash, while our first phones were flip phones and the adventurous ones used T9 to text. We look at these kids who are handed tools of incredible value and function, and we see them play games on them and drop them and use them for very little of its full functionality. We generally use our phones better because we had to earn them – paying for them ourselves or waiting until high school or even college to get one. Because of our work or our wait, we better understood the value of our smartphone.

The same is true of anything else. Your degree, your job, your friendship, your marriage, it’s not going to be handed to you – and if it is, I wouldn’t likely take it. Because if I haven’t worked, bled, cried, sweated, and fought tooth and nail for it, I probably don’t properly understand its value.

I was part of a team of people about a year ago who wanted to start a new kind of ministry. Its purpose was to reach the lost through video game streaming on the internet – a corner of the internet that is so dark and unreached that it seemed nearly impossible to imagine. So many things fell into place for us – support, interest, even the finances and space to get it off the ground – that we were sure it couldn’t fail. But it did. It failed because we hadn’t learned the hard lessons about starting a ministry and we hadn’t been training in expertise for doing the job to the level we wanted to do it. We didn’t sweat and bleed and cry and fight for it. We failed because we didn’t recognize the value of the things necessary for success and we took advantage of the things we had, and when those things disappeared we were left with nothing.

A good football player is one who has skin in the game, who lays all he has on the line for the goal of victory. A good volleyball player is one who puts in the time and training for a good performance – a friend of mine would go home and bump and set a basketball so that his arms would become stronger and more resistant to the pain of the game. A good fighter is one who continues to press his attack despite being injured. I find no reason to believe that these attributes apply only to sports.

Your time at college is valuable. It’s expected for you to go to college, sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less pivotal. Your time at your job is valuable. Sometimes it’s mind-numbing, sometimes it’s stressful beyond belief, but it’s important because you have to fight for and earn every cent you get. Minimum wage is low, and it ought to be. The value of your dollar becomes equated with the section of your life that you traded for it.

Do I wish that I could just finish my degree and move on to the next chapter? Sure, kind of. But I recognize that if someone were to just hand me a degree right now, I wouldn’t have earned it and I wouldn’t be equipped for doing the job it says I can do. I have far more to learn before I obtain that piece of paper – both academically and otherwise. So if it were offered to me, I would refuse. My honor and my character come before convenience.

So think twice about what is important to you. Consider what you’re learning and how far you still need to go. Strive toward it, fight for it, persevere through it, but don’t stop until you’ve obtained it.

That’s something I’d be proud to have.

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