Sunday, August 2, 2009


The Energy and Arrogance of Youth

Because my current job leaves me with so little time and energy for blogging, I have had to change my approach. My current approach is to wait until I get a convergence of occasion and inspiration and then jump on it. It being Sunday evening, I have a little time, and the inspiration comes from Presbyter's last blog and today's Sunday school lesson: Paul's letter to the Corinthians and its applicability to young Christians as well as young Airmen.

In Chapter 4 of his first epistle, Paul admonishes the Corinthians for their arrogant self-righteousness, and for their ingratitude toward both God and the apostles:
For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did
not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did
As I told my class this morning, the Corinthian church has much in common with the Honor Guard: both share the enthusiasm and the immaturity of youth (most of our Airmen come directly from basic training). This enthusiasm brings great energy at the same time as it is prone to careening off course--the "all thrust, no vector" phenomenon, as we say in the Air Force.

At the same time, man's sinful inclination toward arrogance is clearly on display in the lives of these young professionals. Just as the spiritually young Corinthians boldy passed judgment on their elders, teachers, and even the Apostle Paul himself, so do young military men and women rapidly progress from trainee to trainer to expert, mastering their particular art and then looking down their noses on those who have not. Of course, this is not unique to any one community, but the preponderance of youth makes the Honor Guard a unique vantage point to watch it take hold.

Arrogance and ingratitude are endemic to our sinful condition, and the young are especially vulnerable, as they have not yet been chastised by the hard lessons of years. Most of us learned to despise the wisdom of our elders from an early age, and then had to unlearn that hubris the hard way. As a young believer, I quickly grew to be an "expert" in many things, and I have grown progressively "dumber" over the years, as the experience of those years has exposed me to my limitations. We naturally cling to our vanity and pride until God lets us follow them to their logical, humiliating conclusion.

Humility would be much easier to learn if we pursued it for its own sake, but we are instead generally forced to embrace it only when the humiliation of failure leaves us with no other option.

1 comment:

  1. The young Augustine prayed for the gift of chastity, "but not yet".

    We don't seem to have to be too young to pray for the gift of humility, but only as the icing on a really great cake!


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