The most recent demonstrations are being held near fast-food restaurants, where many teens are employed. They are gathering together to promote a $15 minimum wage. There are two questions that must be asked: Do teens deserve such a wage? What other factors should be considered?
The average teenager has little or no work experience. Whatever job they might have is a training ground. It is a place to develop a strong work ethic, something that some young people do not have. This means do they show up for work not only on time, but a few minutes early? Do they work hard and have a great attitude? Do they know how to respect the authority of a boss? One of the big complaints of employers is that too many do not have a good work ethic. All of these things are much more important than how much money one makes. If teens do not develop these qualities they may be hopping from job to job later in life, and employers will tell you that this does not look good on a job application. With that said, making $15 an hour is not a right or entitlement; it is something to be earned.
Those who are demonstrating should be thankful to have a job at all. Instead of meeting on the streets and blocking traffic, they should be at work seeking to develop the skills necessary to be successful on any job. They should be asking questions like how they can become the best employee in the workforce, or what they can learn from those more experienced than themselves? Those who are demonstrating may have a strong work ethic, or maybe they don’t. Either way, they need to be happy with their job, learn all they can, be a good employee, and move on to other jobs that pay more, because they will then be in a position where they have earned it.
While it is true that some employers do not pay well, and there may be other reasons for not liking a job, the fact remains that teenagers must be willing to work their way up from the bottom. Many people of the older generation did that. Why should they be an exception? Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily as for the Lord, rather than men.” The most important thing, first of all, is to have a character transformed by the power and grace of God. This then will be reflected in how one works for another person.
There is nothing wrong with seeking to get ahead in life, but we can learn to be content with what we have (especially if one is living at home as most teens are). I Timothy 6:8 says, “And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.” And if one is seeking more money there should be character development along with it. More attention needs to be given to what is stated in I Timothy 4:12. “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity, show yourself an example…”
What can teens do to be the best employee possible? What can they do to convince employers that they have “earned” a pay raise?