“Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, and riches take wings.
Only one thing endures and that is character.”
It doesn’t really matter how old we are –sometimes all of us can feel as though we don’t belong or are not liked. We tend to worry about what others think of us. My mother used to say to me, ‘What others think of you is none of your business.’ It is a good mantra, but it does not always prevent us from feeling inadequate, embarrassed, excluded, unattractive and basically uncool. For some of us, self-acceptance is replaced by self-loathing. (Oh my stars! What if no one reads my blog? What if people think I am stupid? What if I have made a spelling mistake? Am I smart enough to write anything? What if no one likes me?)
Brene Brown is my favourite author when I feel I need to work on my courage and shame. I have two of her books, Daring Greatly and Rising Strong. These are such inspiring books – but if you don’t have time to read, she has brilliant Ted Talks and a great website.
If you are working with young people, their struggle in this area can be profound. Perhaps it is time to work across the generations to look at ways to empower our young and most vulnerable people.
Let’s start with Galatians 1:10.
“Am I trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God?
Or am I trying to please people?
If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
In our society we are so tied up with comparisons, wondering if we fit in and if we are accepted as one of the crowd. However, if we challenge this world view and replace it with the idea that God’s opinion of us is the only one that really matters, perhaps we can ease the distress and suffering of many of our young people. We might be able to alleviate that gnawing pain that affects so many people who measure their self-worth on the acceptance and judgment of others.
Ministry to Youth have a great lesson to help deal with this consuming need we have to be POPULAR! Thank you to the creative Tiffany Hollums for this lesson.
This is a great lesson that could work at school in class, in Chapel or at your church. Adapt it to suit your needs.
Why is this a powerful tool for Generations Together?
Well – for a start – it begins with a ‘dance-off’! How cool would that be? Use the free online Applause Meter for maximum effect.
Now, where this lesson really becomes authentic and meaningful is in the sharing of our personal narrative. Ask some adults to share a story about a time when they felt embarrassed, uncool or rejected by the group. Perhaps a teacher or Chaplain could share about the time they realized they were not popular and did not fit in.
Then – let the discussion begin.
Maybe share with your class or church what it might mean to be popular.
Where do you sit on the ‘Popularity Scale’? (Don’t share – just think about it.)
What are people prepared to do just to be considered popular? (Monitor carefully depending on the age of the people you are working with!) How far will people go to be ‘popular’?
Are people willing to compromise their character to be popular?
For some people, there remains a dilemma. Should I be the person Christ wants me to be or the person others in the world want me to be?
So remind people – young and old – about their identity in Christ. Brainstorm a list about identity. This list might help you get started.
• You are God’s masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10)
• You are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)
• Nothing can separate you from God’s love. (Romans 8:35)
• God loves you perfectly and unconditionally. (1 John 4:8)
• You are adopted as His sons and daughters. (Ephesians 1:5)
• Accepted by Christ (Romans 15:7)
• You are created in the image of God. (Genesis 1:27)
• You are a child of God. (1 John 3:1-2)
You know, our young people are living is a difficult world, where social media and cyber bullying are a powerful part of every day. We can all begin to believe that somehow we are not worthy. How many ‘likes’ did we get today?
We are so worried about other people’s opinions of us but let us remind each other that really, it is only the opinion of Jesus that matters. And was Jesus popular?
Believing and following Jesus may not make us popular, but does that matter?
Jesus loves you and his love endures forever. Jesus doesn’t mind what you wear, how good you are at dancing or what you look like. You are simply dearly loved. What could be better than that?
How can we, as a community, pray and be there for others who are experiencing popularity struggles? How can we model inclusivity, acceptance and unconditional love for all generations?