What a baby boomer taught a millennial about life and work


According to Barna Group Research, the average tenure of an American employee per job is 4.4 years of service. They have found 91% of millennials expect to stay in a single job for less than three years. Only 27% of millennials have a clear goal for where they want to be in five years, and sadly, only 19% are extremely satisfied with their work or career.

I think my generation of millennials has a lot to learn from people like my friend, Looie (a baby boomer).

Looie Biffar starting working for Texas Baptists in the 1960s when bell-bottoms and miniskirts were in style, but not considered proper work attire (nor would they ever be around the Baptist building). She was an aspiring designer and when she began her career, she was armed with a trusty No. 2 pencil, paper, and a light table.

She hand-drew all of her designs in the beginning, because in those days computers filled up entire rooms. If a banner was needed for an event, Looie created it by hand, crafting her own fonts, painting with actual brushes and pouring herself into all she did.

As time went on and changes occurred in her field, she adapted. Today, Photoshop, inDesign and the Adobe package help her perform her daily tasks, with her Wacom wand replacing her pencil. After a brief two-year stint in California working for a design firm, Looie returned to Texas Baptists and she never really considered working anywhere else. She has been faithful, loyal and dedicated, not only to her craft, but to the people she worked with whom she considers family.

In her 47-year career with us, Looie touched countless lives through her designs, and even more through the joy she received through serving her Savior and helping advance the kingdom.

I have had the privilege of working with Looie for the past two years, and I wish it was longer. Looie has more spunk and stamina than many 25-year-olds I know. She's the hardest worker I've ever met, and she always does it with a smile. She also loves people so well and was always finding ways to bless and encourage our team - with homemade key lime pies or kolaches from the Czech Stop.

When I was in need of counsel or encouragement, Looie was the person I often turned to. Through her years of service to Texas Baptists, I'm pretty sure she's seen it all - the good, the bad and the ugly. And yet, she remained faithful to her call, her mission field, right here in the heart of Dallas, Texas. In the midst of a hard day, Looie always knows just what to say to make you smile, even if it's through tears of her own.

Looie embraced retirement last week, but I can guarantee she will not sit still long. She already has free-lance jobs lined up and is in the process of converting her garage into a painting studio.

When we were buying some paint supplies for her retirement gift, the store clerk mentioned that most artists live a long time. I asked why he thought that was true and he responded, "Because their career never goes out of style, they can always find a new way to express their art."

I think this is true of Looie. The Lord designed her brain to think artistically and she has found a myriad of ways to do so over the years. Her passion is her art, and changes in technology, management, location and structure never held her back from doing that well.

I've been working for 9 years, and currently am in my third place of employment. While each job has prepared me for the next one, and they have mostly been in similar fields, I will acknowledge I probably reflect the statistics for my generation pretty well. My prayer is that many of the attributes I admire in Looie will be true of me someday - things like loyalty, dedication, perseverance, joy and loving others well. Social media and publications may come and go, but I hope I will be able to adapt to changes, embrace new things, and be ever-ready to serve the Lord and His people every chance I get!

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