Posted by: Mike Willoughby | August 31, 2010

Celebrating a New Work Ethic

I wrote in my last article that I’m not a big fan of the “those were the good ole days” reminiscing which we seem to do as we age.  Sometimes that kind of thinking shows up as an older generation bashes the younger generation.  I think each generation has its own unique challenges and opportunities that combine to create the “personality” of the generation. 

The current crop of millennials (generally defined as kids born from 1976 through 2001) certainly has its challenges including the oft-lamented influence of post-modern thinking.  However, this newest generation also has some tremendous things to offer that distinguish them from previous generations.  In my opinion, the greatest strength of the millennial generation is found in the compassionate hearts of so many of these young men and women.

As I have observed many of these millennials graduating from high-school and college and entering the work force, they have a heart for service and missions that is remarkable and distinctive.  All of us boomers and gen-Xers can learn a lesson or two from these compassionate up-and-comers.  I offer as one example Blake Mycoskie, the founder and “Chief Shoe Giver” at TOMS Shoes.  At the age of 33, Blake is on the leading edge of the millennial generation, but his heart clearly belongs to this mission-minded bunch.

From Blake’s bio:

While vacationing in 2006, Blake befriended children in Argentina who had no shoes to protect them during long walks to food, water, and school. Upset that such a simple need was going unmet, he created TOMS Shoes. With every pair purchased, TOMS gives a pair of new shoes to a child in need. One for One.

Blake returned and began selling the original TOMS from his Venice, California apartment. Later that year, TOMS returned to Argentina to hand-deliver 10,000 pairs of shoes.

Since its beginning in May 2006, TOMS has given over 400,000 pairs of shoes to children in need through the purchases of caring customers, and the One for One movement continues to gain followers around the world.

On September 13th and 14th, Blake will be a guest on the ACU campus sharing his story and his mission with the millennial students.  I think I may have to figure out how to be on campus on that Monday.  I encourage you to visit the TOMS Shoe web site ( to learn more about Blake and his inspirational story.  While there, you might want to buy some shoes and help some barefoot children in the process!

So, what does Blake’s pioneering business model have to do with work ethic and genuine faith?  Think about work ethic from a little different perspective while you read James 2:14-17:

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Blake saw little brothers and sisters without clothes and he did something about it both personally and through his business.  I think that is a new work ethic that is worth celebrating.

Way to go, millennials!

As I wrapped up this article, a song by Brandon Heath popped up on my shuffled iTunes playlist.  Brandon Heath is another millennial with a heart for missions.  Coincidence?  I leave you with the lyrics from the chorus of Give Me Your Eyes.

Give me Your arms for the broken hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me Your heart for the one’s forgotten
Give me Your eyes so I can see

Give me Your eyes for just one second
Give me Your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing

 Until next week,

Meet me at the intersection!

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