Recently, I was honored to join with a couple hundred other pastors from Iowa for our denominational District Council. We had the joy of listening to a speaker, James Bradford, as he talked about a bright future and a need to crush idols. He also mentioned something that God has been speaking to me personally lately; that one of the greatest struggles for those under 40 is cynicism.
I have a tendency to be more than a little sarcastic. In fact, my wife absolutely abhorred me when we first met. Somehow she got this crazy notion that I was egotistical and selfish. It wasn’t until she realized that I really had all those qualities that I bragged about that she started to like me. Unfortunately for her, God had to break her finger for her to see how wonderful I am (true story, but too long to divulge here)…guess she should have listened harder (just kidding, Dear, if you read this).
I also know that I’m not alone in this. It seems like humor is shifting to more cynical humor. As I work with middle school students, I notice it in even more profound ways. I understand that middle schoolers can often be mean. However, I can hear some elements of things I have said in some of their cynicism sometimes and that hurts.
Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ouch. It seems that God knew people would struggle to build others up and chose to put this command in scripture.
I would challenge you to look at your own words and use of humor and see if it is really building others up. I think often times, I try so hard to be funny or liked that I sometimes end up sounding stupid or being hurtful.
What about you? Do you see this as a growing problem? Is this something you struggle with? Have you found anything that helps? Feel free to comment below to help us all build each other up.
Chad Feight is youth worker at 1st Assembly, Cedar Rapids.