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June 9, 2008 / beidson

The Call to “Uncoolness”: Fighting Temptation With “Regularity”

You can’t stop temptations from coming: “Tempations to sin are sure to come . . . ” (Luke 17:1a).  But you should never be the reason they come: “. . . but woe to the one through whom they come” (1b).

I was a youth pastor for several years before moving into my current ministry position, and if I learned one thing from the whole experience, it would be this: be uncool.  In fact, I would go even further and add that it is not a bad idea to even be a dork, at least to some extent.

Why the aversion to coolness?  Because coolness is a trap, for you and for others.  Now the “coolness” I’m referring to is not the coolness with which one might lable their father or pastor: “He’s a great guy; he’s pretty cool.”  I’m referring to the coolness that seeks status and sex appeal, fame and authority.  You can find this type of coolness in a middle school cafeteria and you can just as easily find it in an office filled with seemingly mature adults.  We all want to be cool.  The truth is, it’s cool to be cool.

But there is an element of danger to coolness, which is the temptations that come with the entire “cool” package.  First of all, coolness affects our wallets, our wardrobes, our choice of words, and anything else that other people would care to notice.  The temptations to covetousness, pride and people-pleasing are obvious here. 

But secondly, and perhaps even more dangerous, would be the sexual element of coolness.  The “sexy” factor is very important in our culture, and unfortunately, it drives the motives and desires of many believers.  Even if we are not dressing like the rich and famous and beautiful of Hollywood, many times we attempt to pull off the same effect with our own version of sexy.  And this doesn’t necessarily even involve tight skimpy outfits or sleek sheik suits, but it does involve the desire to get other people interested in our bodies.  Sometimes, indeed many times, coolness is defined by sex appeal, and therein lies a major threat to our Christlikeness.

So perhaps what we ought to do instead is seek regularity, that is, normalcy.  Perhaps we might even seek to be “uncool” in the sense that we aren’t seeking to draw all eyes to ourselves so that others may love us or lust over us. 

Why did I want the teenagers in my youth group to think of me as a dork?  Because the last thing I wanted was to be attractive to teenage girls.  And the last thing I wanted was for teenage boys to learn how to be smooth talkers by watching me.  Instead, I wanted them to see me as they would see their own fathers: as a mature, self-controlled, wise and Spirit-filled man, who had better things to do than gain the attention and approval of others for appearance sake. 

And if they thought I was a dork, so be it.  After all, most of them thought their own fathers were dorks, but the truth is, they were actually pretty cool guys.  And besides, I’d rather be uncool if it meant fighting off the temptations that come with coolness.  Scripture requires Christlike character in me, not cultural coolness from me.  This is a call worthy of our pursuit.  It’s a call to regularity.  It’s a call to turn people’s eyes to Christ, and away from us.


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