Three Things This Week from The Culture Translator
Insights into how pop culture, technology, and media are influencing your students.
1. Discipling through Doubt
What it is: The Fuller Youth Institute says it isn’t doubts that drive students away from faith, but rather the silence and fear from parents and teachers who refuse to talk honestly about their own doubts and questions about God.
Why it’s important: Fuller’s research revealed that over 70% of students have serious doubts about their faith, but those who felt they had a safe place to openly discuss those doubts with adults tended to have a stronger, more lasting faith. Our students need us to be real about our own struggles with faith, as well as unafraid to listen to and work through their questions with them. It’s not certainty that makes good leaders; it’s vulnerability. Because quite often, “doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving.”
2. The Final Frontier
What it is: Apple’s Keynote on Wednesday revealed the specs for iPhone 7, including that it’s splash and water resistant, following in the footsteps of its competitor, Samsung Galaxy.
Why it’s important: Form matters, and phones are being created more and more to be unignorable and ever-present. The more dependent on them we become, the more likely we are to keep purchasing the next model. Making them water proof/resistant only increases our dependence because we can use them in more places, including the shower. With every waking hour being bombarded by notifications from our phones, modeling wise technology boundaries to teens is becoming that much more important.
3. Chance the Rapper
What it is: Last week, we mentioned Kanye’s reference to Chance the Rapper as the future and a thought leader, so this week, our Senior Team Director and an intern took some time to analyze his influence.
Why it’s good: 20 minutes of listening to this podcast will help you better understand the artist, his work, his influences, his faith, and ultimately how his ideas are influencing the next generation. Many of the questions they ask are also great conversation starters for teens who are fans, getting them to think deeper than the sound or beat.
Finding One’s Calling
The wildly popular blog Wait But Why created a fictional character named Lucy as a caricature of today’s emerging adult. Lucy is what the blog called a “GYPSY” (Generation Y Protagonist and Special Yuppy). Poor Lucy is destined to be unhappy because, from her earliest years, she’s been told she’s special, that she can be whatever she wants to be. Not surprisingly, GYPSYs like Lucy struggle with a sense of entitlement. Where Baby Boomers wanted to live “the American Dream,” GYPSYs want to live their own personal dream.
Ultimately, for Lucy and our students, this is a recipe for unhappiness. Reality will never match the dreams GYPSYs have been told to expect.
Christians are also guilty of inculcating false expectations. For at least a couple generations, Christian colleges, with the noble intent of communicating the biblical concept of “calling” as more than just full-time ministry jobs, have taught students to look at their own giftedness as the key to discovering “God’s will.” Of course, it’s true the Lord has gifted us in unique ways to serve Him and that we can discover these gifts through our passions and use them for His glory. But while the biblical picture of calling and vocation includes our talents, it also includes things like sacrifice, persecution, and dying to self. Jesus said those who follow Him carry crosses, not crowns.
It’s really only Christians in the West, especially the US, who’ve had the luxury of dwelling on the question, “What has God made me to do and what is my calling?” The Protestant Reformers understood calling to be not so much about passion, but about faithful commitment to God in whatever station we find ourselves. It may be that your calling right now is to be a student or a parent or a minimum-wage employee barely eking out a living. Whether directly connected with our passions or not, God calls us first and foremost to do each thing well, with all of our might, even if it is as mundane as digging a ditch or doing the dishes.
Short of this awareness, we risk “Christianizing” entitlement. Instead of asking students “What is God’s will for your life some day?” we should be asking them, “What does God want you to do well today?” Our calling is to live fully engaged in this world, regardless of the particular circumstances. As William James reminds us, “The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.”
Adapted from an article originally published on Breakpoint.org.
At Axis, our mission is to empower the next generation to think clearly and critically about what they believe and to take ownership of their faith. We do this not by outsourcing parents, but by resourcing them to disciple and transfer legacy to their children as they face life’s questions and challenges. We also support faith leaders in churches and schools by providing content and facilitators who effectively introduce and address life’s toughest topics. For more information, visit https://axis.org/