Posts Tagged ‘hypocrisy’

I thought about titling this “You’re Nothing but a Hypocrite” 8.3, but I can’t blame any of this on Eugene Peterson. These are my social media insights from the last couple of days. Your news feed may be different than mine. THe first four are pretty sad. The 5th is a gift.

1. The issue of gay marriage being a significant social media discussion topic is driven by the news. Almost to a person, everyone else is jumping on the bandwagon to show they have something to say.

2. Very few people are offering their own insights, but are parroting the memes, the cliches, the sound bites and the cutting remarks of others.

3. Most of those using Scripture are using it not to bring light and salt, but for memes, cliches, and clever (read cutting or combative) remarks.

4. Many, many of those over age 35 are either not engaged with the topic (at least in this setting) or are rushing to a cause with weapons drawn.

5. Many of those under age 35 are reacting to what they see as a choice for compassion and fairness vs a stance of hypocrisy. Specifically, I have heard/read young people over and over calling out the church for her silence on divorce and on gossip as proof of her hypocrisy on the gay marriage issue.

If you have read my earlier blogs on hypocrisy, what do you think? I’m not interested in this forum for a discussion on the rightness or wrongness of gay marriage or for political posturing. But as a first step….instead of trying to correct the minds of those we disagree with, should we thank the young people who are calling many of us out for our hypocrisy and receive their indictment as a gift?

So you read my last blog post, but you are not convinced? “That’s right, Hal. Tell me more about why it is a good thing that my teen is highlighting my inconsistencies and hypocrisies….that is, IF I even have any!”

In my last post I suggested that this ability to recognize and call out hypocrisy by our teens was actually a gift to us provided by God and delivered personally by some of those we love the most. But just in case you were thinking of trying to exchange this gift let me suggest that the gift is not for you alone.

In adolescence, teens are learning to think in some advanced ways and need to practice. They develop advanced reasoning skills. They learn to think about things hypothetically. They can dream about possiblities. Teenagers begin to think about things in the abstract like love…and faith…and hope. They learn to process things logically and see implications. They can even think about thinking…or think about feeling…a process called “meta-cognition.” They can even project what others might be thinking about them.

If you have been around any young teens and are past the age of 14 yourself, you can immediately see some of the difficulties this raises. There isa phenomenon called “the imaginary audience,” where each teen imagines that everyone he or she encounters is thinking about them and evaluating them critically. In fact, there is always an audience in their head, even when no one is around. And it is hard for them to imagine that everyone is not as transfixed by their own thoughts and feelings as they are themselves!

There is also a sense of personal uniqueness. Surely no one else alive or dead has ever experienced situations…or feelings…or life itself in the same way! (We talked about some of this briefly when reading chapter 5). There is a sense of increased drama and emotion to almost every situation. In fact, if a given moment does not have enough drama, it seems that the teen will seek to create some. And there is a sense of heightened justice…with no room for gray or compromise.

Think about how shallow and simple life would be without these new abilities. What a gift this cognitive and emotional development is to the teen! But what a challenge to those on whom they practice their budding skills!!

It may be the subject of another post why we think it wise in our culture to put groups of twenty-five to thirty-five middle schoolers in a classroom as they bludgeon each other while they experiment with the new things they can now do.

If you are an adult in a young teen’s life, what can you do? Here are my suggestions. Feel free to add your own:

*Thank God for the blessing….for them and for you

*Listen between the lines. Listen for the feelings. And just listen.

*Test everything. Don’t take it personally unless the Holy Spirit tells you to tune into something specific.

*Express unconditional love. Help them temper this new gift through modeling love.

*Own it and ask forgiveness when you have been a hypocrite. Model being okay with messing up, owning your stuff, and asking forgiveness.

*Thank the Lord that He isn’t done with you…adn that He trusts you to influence another!

What would you add to the list?

(This post is inspired by chapter 8 of Like Dew Your Youth: Growing Up With Your Teenager by Eugene Peterson. Get a copy of this great little book and check back each Thursday for the next 5 weeks to become part of the discussion).

But of course. Guilty as charged. But with a caveat. I’m a hypocrite, to be sure. (Along with the rest of the human race.I haven’t managed to get an exclusive market on that from the rest of the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve). But I am more than a hypocrite. For one thing, I am a hypocrite in transition. (Colossians 1:9 -14) I used to have a boss who would say, “You’re a good man, Hal.” And he was partly right. But the rest of the truth and the much deeper reality was in my standard response “The nearness of God is my good!” (Psalm 73:28)

I have been rescued and given the freedom to be more than a hypocrite….and in fact to grow into a wholeness of integrity and purity and kindness and grace that is nothing at all like who I was. But I am in transition. And I need to stay near my God in every way. And I forget. And so God blessed me with five children and a wife to help me grow.

Does that feel like a gift? Are you kidding? I’m a third generation PK (preacher’s kid). I’ve been doing youth ministry for over 25 years. I have been in the limelight and in some precious hidden places. I have seen God use me. Consistency and integrity are a really big deal to me. Do I want to be reminded that I can be a hypocrite? Well, do you?

Robert Burns wrote these words in his Scottish dialect: “O wad some Power the giftie gie us To see oursels as ithers see us!” Peterson suggests that the gift, the power, is the adolescent in our home. Although the words that adolescent speaks are often painful and often accusatory, Peterson puts it like this: “I can’t help but believe that this is one of the most useful and timely things our youths do for us.” (p. 69)

What about you? Has our Father blessed you enough, shown His love to you enough, to put someone in your life…an adolescent even…who will point out your inconsistencies and hypocrisies?

By the way, for my regular readers, I am sorry again for a post a whole week late. My intent was good, but reality crashed in. Our youth ministry hosted the Tulsa After Party for the WinterJam tour last weekend while getting ready for next week’s mission trip and vacating our old offices. It was a little much. Thank you for your patience!

(This post is inspired by chapter 8 of Like Dew Your Youth: Growing Up With Your Teenager by Eugene Peterson. Get a copy of this great little book and check back each Thursday for the next 5 weeks to become part of the discussion).