It’s been interesting lately to watch people: how they drive, how they speak on TV, and how they act in public. It makes me wonder how they act around people they know or if they are different when they are around strangers. Back in the 80’s there was a “movement” called the “me generation”. It was said that the people of that era were more concerned about themselves than anyone else and that they didn’t care what effect they had on those around them. This was how the “looking out for number 1” mantra was born. If you were alive or can remember back then, it was not a pretty time in the US society. Today, people claim that the Millennial generation does just the same; looking out only for themselves.
Studies on the Millennial generation show something a little different. They want to do things that matter and make a difference. They are more concerned about social and environmental issues than most previous generations; they are compassionate and understanding. I would suggest that they have been labeled as self-centered because they want more out of life early. Millennials do not want to wait until later in life to travel or explore. They don’t believe that they should work themselves to death and ignore their families or friends. They have seen the tired and worn down late generation baby boomers and early generation Xers; they want more out of life.
Back to people watching, the ones who have been more selfish and uncaring about others around them tend to be the same tired and worn down generations who once believed in looking out for number 1. I guess that is why it has been so frustrating lately, the people who have been around for a while; those who have been working so steadily are the ones who act so entitled. People complain that living today is hard. I would offer that it isn’t any harder than any other time in history; the problems are just different. Where are you on this spectrum and what can you do to change?
“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Philippians 1:27
I wonder if we could have “take backs” for all of the times that we acted poorly, how far back would the clock turn? How many years would we get back? The verse today speaks to me in two ways – behavior and response. Our behavior drives how people act around us. If we are careless or focused only on ourselves, people around us become frustrated; even to the point where they don’t want to be around us. Small things like paying attention to drivers around us on the road, looking out for neighbors or the neighborhood and, noticing the subtle changes in others are great ways to behave. This may help others see life from a different perspective and become contagious.
The other way I see this verse is through our response to events. “Whatever happens…” says to me that no matter what people say or do, act in way “worthy of the gospel”. This goes for our response to circumstances in our lives. When a medical diagnosis isn’t positive or life events hit hard, act in a way “worthy of the gospel”. Jesus didn’t complain when He was being mocked, He wasn’t “stressed out” when people wouldn’t leave him alone and He did not pity himself when He was tortured and hung on a cross to die. He conducted Himself just as honorably in His last days as He did in the first days. Leave self-pity behind when things are rough and turn your thoughts to God. He is here for us in the good and the bad times, so as St. Paul reminds us – “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”