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When Conventional Wisdom is Off-Base

Growing up, I heard stuff that made no sense, so I did the opposite.

Sometimes conventional wisdom is wrong. And sometimes, as Hilary Austen said, “When your efforts run in the face of conventional wisdom and accepted mastery, persistence can look like madness.”

I debriefed myself on the subject and came up with five things I was taught that life experience debunked:

1. Settle down and get a job. 

It encouraged me that Jesus didn’t set the example of settling down and getting a job.

So, I followed Jesus’ example and left home and friends. When asked for advice, I suggest others do the same—go on a kingdom journey and dive into a world of possibilities.

Become a vagabond for Christ as you practice ministry and discover your identity.

2. Rebellion is bad.

Rebellion against what?

On a number of occasions, I was a branded as a rebel. But Jesus led a rebellion against a broken status quo and if we’re to follow him, we need to do the same.

Youth are leaving the church and youth pastors are burning out. Rebellion needs to happen. Rebellion keeps you from being a frog in the kettle.

3. Restlessness is bad.

“Stop doodling,” teachers told us students.

We diagnose students with A.D.D. and put them on Ritalin. But restlessness can be good. It can get you out of your broken world and cause you to look for a better one.

4. Spiritual disciplines are hard.

My experience with spiritual disciplines often end in failure.

But I discovered a discipline called a kingdom journey that was transformative. It was hard—it took me into brokenness. But unlike other spiritual disciplines, the fruit lasted.

5. Only pure motives count.

I was taught to make sure my motives were uncorrupted before I tried do something spiritual.

But I saw that God does a bait and switch on us all the time; attracting us to something that will require our death by promising us abundant life. All we have is mixed motives—we have to start with those.

In the case of kingdom journeys, the motive of wanting adventure can get young people to commit to something that will change their lives.

What have you been taught that you’ve since learned was wrong?  

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I'm a work in process. I've found that the main thing one needs in a relationship with God is hunger to know Him and be in His presence. As for the rest of my life, Karen and I are going through a transition as three of our five children are leaving the nest, leaving us with our two youngest, two dogs & a cat. One of our great consolations is the wonderful group of friends at AIM. They are truly the body of Christ to us. Life here is always an adventure and I wouldn't have it any other way!