I’m a millennial.
I’m currently writing this on my MacBook Air, drinking a great cup of coffee, sitting on a day bed in the ‘Bohemian’ cafe, just outside of Nairobi, Kenya.
If that didn’t prove to you that I’m a millennial, then the story of how I ended up here just might do so.
Don’t get me wrong, being a millennial is great. We’ve got Facebook monitoring our every move, Justin Bieber and Brexit, but we’ve also got flaws just like every generation that’s gone before us, and no doubt each generation that will follow.
I had been working in London for three years for a Christian charity called Alpha International. I treasured the work, the mission and people involved, but I found myself with itchy feet syndrome, hungry for more and thirsty for a challenge. At first, I put this feeling down to being a part of this transient generation. It’s later that I realised that this wasn’t partially a bad thing.
Simon Sinek said in an interview that “Millennials are just the ones speaking out. The rest of us just suffer in silence, go to work and put our heads down, whereas millennials are publicly saying ‘We Want More.’”
I wanted more, but I didn’t quite know what I wanted ‘more’ of, or what God had in store for me.
So I pursued a position in America working for the incredible family of churches there which are related to the church I call ‘home’ in London…
…two months later I found myself on a plane with a one-way ticket to Nairobi, Kenya. Not what I had in mind.
But before I had time to give it much consideration, my itchy feet made the decision for me. I was moving to a city, country and continent I had never been to, without knowing a single person there, for a year to build the East Africa hub office of Alpha International.
I had well and truly found my challenge.
Naturally living alone in a new country, I found myself with more time on my hands than I had in London, which surprisingly was one of the many delights of this adventure so far. I’ve managed to read books that I’ve been ‘collecting’ for years. I have actually dedicate more time to reading the Bible, relearned the discipline of prayer, delved back into writing, and spent more time listening to talks/podcasts. These are all things I’ve known I should be doing and have craved to be doing for years, but my city lifestyle of filling my time and rushing from one thing to the next, meant I experienced little success in doing so.
I’ve also found an incredible community out here in Nairobi, which has seen me make some profound friendships. We have gone on adventures from white water rafting the Nile in Uganda to weekend safari trips after church.
To this point the year has been great, but inevitability there have also been struggles. Not in terms of health, safety or homesickness, but of pride.
In her book Anonymous: Jesus’ hidden years…and yours, author Alicia Britt Chloe explains perfectly what I’ve been experiencing…
In seasons of hiddenness our sense of value is disrupted, stripped of what others affirmed us to be. In this season God intends to give us an unshakable identity in Him, that no amount of adoration or rejection can alter.
I’m currently half-way through my ‘sabbatical year’ and I’ve become happy with being anonymous, of not hitting ‘life goals’ and I am enjoying watching the majority of my friends settle down while discovering their callings.
It’s been a journey, but I can honestly say that I am now content, something I haven’t been able to say for a while.
During my three years in London I found myself speaking on stage platforms, preaching, being approached when others needed advice, but most of all I found myself busy. I’ve had five months without any of that, and it’s been hard.
It’s only now that I can see how much of my identity, purpose and success I was placing in those things.
Now I find myself hidden, away from all I knew, the routines I was in and the people I was comfortable with.
I had once identified my ‘giftings’ by words others spoke over me, or praise I received, but this year I’ve found myself working out those true giftings for myself.
It’s taken this season of being ‘hidden’ to truly identify the gifts God has given me, over the ones society kindly handed me.
Jesus Christ was like an Iceberg.
That’s right you heard it here first, let me explain.
Give or take, Jesus spent 90 per cent of his life on earth being unseen, and 10 per cent being visible. Just like an iceberg!
Was he just coasting, enjoying what life on earth had to offer for those first thirty years? Or was he preparing?
I’m confident that it was the latter, and Jesus’ hidden years were strategic.
In her book Alicia explains…
Within anonymous seasons we must hold tightly to the truth that no doubt strengthened Jesus throughout his hidden years: Father God is neither care-less or cause-less with how he spends our lives. When he calls a soul simultaneously to greatness and obscurity, the fruit -if we wait for it- can change the world.
With ease I often state, ‘I want to live more like Christ did’. But it’s a lot harder to make the proclamation that ‘I want to live 90 per cent of my life in absolute obscurity, just like Jesus did’.
What these last few months have taught me is that I wasn’t simply craving more, I had a great community in London, I still do. I was doing great things and still learning a great deal, but the reason I felt uncomfortable with the season I was in, was that I was coasting without any direction and unable to truly spot the difference between my gifts and the things I was receiving praise for. I felt the need to achieve, actually no, the need to be seen to be achieving.
My direction now is Christ.
This millennial condition of speaking out and saying ‘I want more’ is my thirst for more of Him, both in and around me. For the first time I would be happy to say I would be content living the anonymous life without the platforms, praise or career progression, if and only if it meant I was running towards a life like Christ.
In this anonymous, quiet, ‘sabbatical’ season, God has graciously given me the opportunity to wrestle, struggle and discover. Only He knows how long this season will last, how I need to be shaped, what I still need to learn and the changes that need to occur in my heart.
But what I do know, is that I now have peace in the process and have learnt to enjoy my hidden years, just as I believe Jesus did his.
INVEST IN YOUR GOD-GIVEN GIFTS AND SPIRITUAL GROWTH
Your Gifts: Spiritual Gifts Discovery
God created you with purpose and passion—learn how you can take the gifts He has given you and use them to advance His Kingdom in ways you never imagined.
Here are more free articles, excerpted from the book Your Gifts shown above, one for each of the nine Team Ministry Spiritual Gifts…
- Do You Have the Spiritual Gift of Shepherding?
- Do You Have the Spiritual Gift of Administration?