What young people must understand about commitment and its costs.
Our pastor recently preached a sermon on strategic bridge-burning. He didn’t really call it that, but that’s what it was about. The biblical passage was 1 Kings 19, where the prophet Elijah calls his successor Elisha. The story begins with Elisha behind a team of oxen, plowing his field. Elijah approaches and puts his cloak around him, a gesture signifying prophetic calling in ancient Israel. Elisha responds by hosting a giant oxen-barbeque for the whole village, fueled by his plowing equipment. With no plow and no more oxen, there is no turning back for Elisha. Israel’s new prophet is born.
Elisha understood commitment and its costs. But as a university professor, one of the great dilemmas I have found within the millennial generation is that millennials possess two contradictory desires:
- A yearning for existential meaning by uniting their lives to a greater and higher purpose
- A desire to be free from the kind of serious commitment necessary for (1).
Again and again, my students tell me that they made a certain decision to “keep their options open.” That millennials like to keep options open is borne out by the data: only one in four (26%) millennials are married, nearly one-third (29%) are not affiliated with a particular religion, and half (50%) consider themselves political independents.
So what gives? From an economist’s perspective, millennials seem to measure decisions by what we call “option value.” In economics, if a decision like the purchase of an asset has a high option value, it means that there is a significant probability of a very good outcome. However, in the case that things don’t go as well as hoped for, it is easy to break ties and cut losses. Of course, …
Source: Christianity Today Most Read