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7 Keys for Building Gen Z’s Work Ethic

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7 Keys for Building Gen Z’s Work Ethic

Parents, here are the Bible principles needed to prepare your teenage kids for the workforce.

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Employers are becoming increasingly worried as Generation Z enters the workforce. A recent survey by ResumeBuilder revealed that 74 percent of hiring managers face difficulties acclimating to this generation. They report that those between the ages of 12 and 27 struggle with using technology at work and lack motivation and focus.

Also, this age group is experiencing unprecedented levels of stress and burnout compared to previous generations. According to business consulting firm Deloitte, 36 percent battle exhaustion and 34 percent are antagonistic toward work. Why is this happening?

It turns out that Gen Z views society, education, hard work and self-care much differently from generations past. In many ways, their world is far removed from the world of their parents and grandparents.

For instance, one out of every five Gen Z members does not think traditional education adequately prepares them for the modern work environment. Today’s youth view our current education system with greater skepticism, feeling that colleges and universities are too expensive, out-of-touch and inaccessible to many students.

These are just some of the many reasons we as parents need to prepare our youth for the workforce. Because we know our children’s capabilities and interests best, we have the power to guide them toward a bright and fulfilling career.

An essential foundation is to set the right example. Simply lecturing them about developing good work habits is not enough. Our kids model the behavior they see on a regular basis.

“Children often learn by observing their parents,” says Kim Homan, LMFT and Clinical Director at Tennessee Behavioral Health.

“If they see you working hard but also taking time for self-care and family activities, they are more likely to emulate this behavior. Explain to them why you work and how it contributes to the family,” she explained.

In addition, you should proactively pass along lessons that prepare your child for future success. An immensely helpful and often overlooked source for guidance is the Bible. Despite being an ancient text, it remains the best-selling book of all time, with principles that are relevant today.

We will explore seven biblical principles you can use to instill a strong work ethic in your Gen Z children. Each point draws inspiration from Proverbs 22:6, which tells parents this: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” To get the most out of this article, read it with an open Bible on your lap or phone. You may even consider studying it with your youngster.

Get ready to discover a fresh approach to building and fortifying your child’s work ethic.

1. Value Gen Z’s Perspective

Though it can be easy to forget, we were all young once. Now that we are older, we better understand that our days of youth were meant to be enjoyed and not taken for granted. While we all want our children to be responsible and make the right decisions, we should not try to make them grow up too fast. Let them enjoy their younger days exploring and discovering themselves and the world around them.

Ecclesiastes 11:9 offers sage advice: “Rejoice, O young man, in your youth; and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth, and walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes: but know you, that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.”

This verse perfectly encapsulates the essence of youth—to seek joy and pursue passions while also being mindful of the future.

Gen Z has grown up in a digital world of constant connection and rapid change. They are used to having instant access to an overwhelming amount of information and choices. Moms and dads, use this verse to inspire your children to explore life with enthusiasm and curiosity. At the same time, emphasize the importance of making wise decisions and being responsible for the consequences of their actions.

This generation, shaped by events such as the Great Recession and global uncertainties, values pragmatism and believes a career goes beyond just making money. They seek joy in their work while considering its broader impact on society. I Timothy 4:12 encourages young people to set an example in their speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, which resonates with Gen Z’s desire for genuine relationships and authenticity.

Psalm 119:9 highlights the importance of young people living the way God wants: “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to Your word.”

This approach encourages parents to discuss with children how to make choices that honor God and align with proper values. Excelling at a current or future job is a result of this guidance.

2. Teach Diligence

The principle of diligence is taught in Colossians 3:23, which says, “Whatsoever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.”

This verse emphasizes that hard work should be treated as an act of devotion and service to God rather than just a means to an end. Teaching young people to focus on someone beyond themselves can be a tremendous motivator.

Help your children by matching their home and school tasks with their natural interests and abilities. For instance, if your child is creative, give them opportunities to cook or help rearrange or decorate a room. You can give them certain budgeting responsibilities if they are good with numbers. The principle from Luke 12:48, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more,” explains the importance of recognizing and growing the gifts and talents God gave us.

In Proverbs 6:6-8, the example of an ant teaches us the importance of diligent effort and contribution at home, school and work. Teaching lessons from the natural world can help your teens better understand responsibility and stewardship.

Recognizing effort over perfection and encouraging perseverance through challenges is important in building diligence. Scriptures like Romans 5:3-4 tell us that through hardships and endurance, we develop character and hope for the future.

II Thessalonians 3:10 records God’s requirement for people to work. It says, “If any would not work, neither should he eat.” This emphasizes the importance of taking initiative and maintaining or seeking employment—not relying on others to care for you. It also helps instill the satisfaction that comes with personal achievement. When parents model diligence, they become living examples of this value.

3. Instill Integrity and Responsibility

At the core of fostering integrity and responsibility among Gen Z is a principle encapsulated in Luke 16:10: “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” Teach your child the importance of integrity in even the most minor tasks as a foundation for gaining greater responsibilities.

Proverbs 12:22 teaches the importance of truthfulness: “Lying lips are abomination to the Lord: but they that deal truly are His delight.” Telling the truth is foundational for building character. Teach your children the importance of honesty in all situations, emphasizing that it is valued by God and others, including employers, even when it is challenging.

The concept of accountability, taught in Galatians 6:5, helps young people understand that they are responsible for their choices. Teach your children to view their mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow rather than as sources of shame.

Respect for authority is guided by Romans 13:1-2: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resists the power, resists the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves [judgment].”

Honoring authority is linked to a deep understanding of God’s influence in the world. Teach your children to value and respect not only parental authority but all forms of governance instituted by God.

Serving is highlighted in Philippians 2:4. This verse encourages kindness and humility toward others: “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”

Participating in community service or school activities can instill the happiness and satisfaction of helping others and teach empathy and social responsibility. Also, discussing real-world ethical dilemmas can teach critical thinking and help your children apply biblical wisdom to complex situations.

4. Promote Work-Life Balance

Jesus Christ emphasized the importance of rest. He said, “Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).

This principle applies not only to physical relaxation but also spiritual rejuvenation. Everyone needs to occasionally step back from daily tasks to replenish the spirit and mind. This is especially relevant for the always-on digital generation.

The biblical precedent for rest is established in the fourth commandment: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shall you labor, and do all your work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God: in it you shall not do any work…” (Ex. 20:8-11).

This is divine proof of the value of downtime. Although Sabbath rest is not discussed as much today as in the past, modern experts do routinely acknowledge the importance of unplugging from our routines to recharge our batteries. Getting rest should not be an afterthought—a mandated period of renewal is integral to our health and productivity. (To learn more about the Sabbath, read Saturday or Sunday – Which Is the Sabbath?)

Explain to your children that regular breaks, weekly and otherwise, are essential to maintaining a balanced life. Resting, when done in moderation, is not synonymous with laziness. It is an important aspect of our overall well-being.

Taking time for exercise is also profitable. This is endorsed in I Timothy 4:8: “For physical training is of some value” (New International Version). Helping your children integrate regular physical activity into their routines can strengthen their bodily health and resilience. The benefits of this will flow into other areas of life, including the workplace.

Setting boundaries with technology and saying no to overcommitment are other vital skills for staying balanced. As parents, we should model these practices and principles in our own lives, setting the right example.

5. Encourage Resilience

Developing resilience when facing challenges is an essential life skill, especially in today’s complex world. James 1 says, “Count it all joy when you fall into various temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience” (vs. 2-3). This is central to building resilience. Young people should view challenges not merely as obstacles but also as opportunities for growth and character-building.

To help your children become resilient, show them how to identify problems, brainstorm solutions and take appropriate action. This promotes a problem-solving mindset and encourages kids to take responsibility instead of running away from difficult situations.

Resilience built on a strong belief system is demonstrated by the people in Hebrews 11—commonly called the faith chapter. Abraham was willing to leave behind his life of comfort to fulfill a greater purpose. Moses chose to sacrifice personal pleasure to help deliver his people. These are just two of many helpful examples in the chapter.

By sharing stories such as these and other historical and contemporary accounts, Gen Z can learn from those who have navigated adversity. This can inspire them to draw strength from their beliefs and values during tough times, in the workplace or otherwise.

Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” This promotes a growth mindset while at the same time emphasizing that we cannot rely solely on ourselves for success.

Witnessing firsthand how to navigate setbacks with resilience and determination can be incredibly impactful for a child.

6. Promote Empathy

Embracing diverse views and experiences is a core value for Gen Z. This worldview aligns with the principle of unity through diversity, as highlighted in Galatians 3:28. It says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

This scripture encourages us to respect and love all individuals, regardless of their background, race or culture. Of course, this does not mean condoning harmful or sinful behavior.

Parents can promote understanding and respect for others by encouraging open discussions about the rich tapestry of cultures, backgrounds and perspectives that make up our world.

Romans 15:7 instructs, “Wherefore receive you one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.” This emphasizes finding common ground with others. Differences strengthen community bonds and foster unity.

Proverbs 27:17 states: “Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” This illustrates how different viewpoints can lead to greater understanding and innovation. Encouraging children to collaborate with peers from all backgrounds can enhance their problem-solving skills and creativity.

Challenging stereotypes and promoting empathy are essential in seeing others the way God sees them. James 2:9 warns against partiality, emphasizing the importance of looking beyond superficial differences to appreciate the inherent value in every individual.

Hebrews 13:2’s call to show hospitality even to strangers can broaden children’s horizons and enrich their understanding of the world. Learning about different cultures and traditions can also be an eye-opening experience.

7. Help Deal with Change

Navigating the continuously changing job landscape requires a mix of adaptability, continuous learning and a strong work ethic. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” This reminds us that change is integral to life and work. The verse encourages Gen Z to approach their careers with an open mind and understand that their professional paths may shift unexpectedly.

Proverbs 18:15 advocates for lifelong learning: “The heart of the prudent gets knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” This is crucial for staying relevant in a dynamic job market. Instilling a mindset of curiosity and a hunger for new skills can help young people adapt to changes and seize opportunities.

Critical thinking and prob­lem-solving are essential skills that can be guided by the wisdom given by God. Proverbs 2 says, “For the Lord gives wisdom: out of His mouth comes knowledge and understanding. He lays up sound wisdom for the righteous: He is a buckler to them that walk uprightly” (vs. 6-7).

By fostering digital literacy and developing technological skills wisely, Gen Z can position themselves to excel even in fields that have yet to be imagined. Yet interpersonal skills are equally if not more important than technical expertise.

The fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) embody the traits everyone should desire. Good character is integral for developing personal and professional relationships and becoming well-rounded.

Get to Work

Parents, you play a crucial role in shaping the work ethic of the next generations. Raising children is a privilege and a profound responsibility. By integrating biblical wisdom into modern parenting practices, you can raise sons and daughters who value hard work.

Bible teachings offer a timeless foundation for instilling the virtues we looked at such as diligence, integrity, resilience, and balancing labor with rest and self-care. Scripture is not just a historical artifact—it is incredibly relevant in guiding Gen Z through the complexities of our modern world.

Take heart in the promise of Proverbs 22:6, which assures us that if we do our part to develop our children, they can thrive in their careers and lead fulfilling, honorable lives. Your efforts to instill these values in your children are seen and appreciated not only by current and future employers but also by God the Father.

To learn much more about raising children according to biblical principles, read our book Train Your Children God’s Way.

This article contains information from The Associated Press.

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