Leave it to Beaver reruns, the Cosby Show and Full House are the family models I saw besides my own growing up; and God’s ongoing relationship with the Jewish people in the Old Testament shapes my understanding of covenant. Covenant is an intentional opportunity to weave your life together with the life of someone else. The purpose for every covenant is to produce more life together. Covenants aren’t limited to marriage partnerships therefore, producing more life together means more than simply having children.
There are a variety of ways for people who come together in covenant to produce more life together; and I offer 5 ways that this can happen successfully…especially for those in covenant relationships with millennials.
1. Trust is at the foundation
Millennials are loyal and dedicated, and we desire to give our time to things that are meaningful. If there is an opportunity to build a life with a millennial, trust is relationship capital. The deeper the bond and the stronger the trust creates a foundation where experimentation, thriving and interdependence continuously births new opportunities.
2. Faith, not fear, is the primary motivator
When we know that our work and our contributions to our relationships are meaningful, millennials have a deep respect for the positions we hold and our actions are motivated by the assurance we have that what we are doing matters. We aren’t as concerned with doing something wrong or displeasing anyone; as long as we are working toward something meaningful, the creative energy that we tap into guides and undergirds the work we do and the life we co-create through our relationships…giving us purpose and a reason to try hard.
3. What you appreciate, appreciates
I was happily married then unmarried in my twenties, and early in our partnership, my former wife would write me letters on post-it notes and scatter them throughout the house for me to find. As I moved through the day I’d find little notes everywhere. Lifting the lid to put a load of clothes in the washer, there’d be a note. Opening the cupboards to grab a mixing bowl, there’d be a note. I’d even find notes in my college textbooks when I’d get to class. Finding these little written reminders of how much I was appreciated made the rest of my day filled with thoughts for how I’d too show my love and appreciation in return. Giving and receiving acts of love and appreciation strengthens our bonds with one another.
4. Practical and tactical goals
Millennials might be one of the most impatient generations, which is why speed is often considered with every innovation we create. Offering us the opportunity to build something in covenant with you means there’s a clear understanding of the time commitment, expectations, and desired outcomes. There’s a lot of flexibility, faith and inspiration that comes when you know what you’re working toward, how that work is meaningful, and creative ways that work can be expressed.
5. Aim for things that makes us better not bitter (MV²)
In addition to being loyal, impatient, risk-takers who love to be appreciated, millennials thrive in situations with a clear understanding of our MV² (mission, vision and values). We may not get it right all the time, but if we can clearly see road markers on the path -i.e knowing why we are present, what we are present to produce, and the rules of engagement for sustaining vital connections- when we do find ourselves off course, it is easier to make a course correction and get back on track. We aren’t looking for folks to tell us what to do, but we don’t like to play the guessing game either.
Being in productive relationships take effort, intention and a mutual understanding of covenant. For millennials, when we know what we are doing and why we are doing it, it becomes easy to give our time, talent, and resources in abundance to something meaningful and valuable. Everyone thrives from feelings of worth, and my generation is no different. Disagreements, differences of opinion, and dissimilar interests do not have to divide and don’t have the power to destroy a covenant built on a foundation with trust, faith, mutual appreciation, common goals, and empowered support.