Look! A bandwagon!

Issues of motivation, goals, and means are always complicated ones to tackle. When I see a popular figure make an important decision and then others copy that decision, supposedly because they decided independently to do so, it raises a flag for me–the timing is suspect. But how am I to know whether they are honest or not?

More important than my penchant for judgementalism, however, is our ability to analyze our own motivations and decisions. Americans, particularly younger Americans (Baby Boomers and younger) progressively seem inclined to jumping first and thinking later, and our busy schedules leave little time for self-actualization. We might be leaping onto a bandwagon because a popular icon has done so, but we might not even realize what we have done. It isn’t until things are different that we begin to wonder why.

And at the point when our lives are different and we try to figure out what happened, how we got all the way here from where we were, we usually have no idea how the journey was made. Not only did we travel without a map, we didn’t plot our course as we went. From friendships to college majors to jobs, fewer Americans are preparing themselves to answer the question, “Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten? Twenty?” We don’t plan out our finances more than a few days or a month in advance, we don’t worry about the relationships we foster or burn, and we don’t consider the wagon or quality of hay therein.

Even people I know who know better, or should, and who can articulate the right way to plan and live seem incapable of doing so. Struggles with discipline, responsibility, and critical thinking abound.

So what’s the solution? We’ve got to practice, every day, every moment to live mindfully. Discipline doesn’t come upon a whim, but is something gained after great perseverance is spent. You build it during times of ease in preparation for times of hardship. And during times of hardship, you need to make a plan and stick to it until you can get out of that time. Self-actualization is at the top of the pyramid because we have to climb to reach it.

Chances are, other people aren’t going where you really want to be. If most people don’t seem to get this stuff, then hopping in their bandwagon is a surefire way to end up in the wrong place. Walking might take longer and be harder, but sometimes you’ve got to do it for a while. And putting it off won’t make it go away.

So walk on and bear the struggle with dignity. Discipline yourself and analyze your roadmap, your decisions, and your potential destinations. Perhaps if we spend more time thinking and less time doing, we will do the right things when the time for action comes.

I find that jumping off bandwagons is pretty embarassing, so I work hard to avoid them altogether. Still, jumping off is better than riding to where you don’t really want to be.

3 thoughts on “Look! A bandwagon!

  1. How do you know if they’re honest or not…that’s a really good question to ask in these kinds of situations. I guess you have to look to their friends or the people that know them best to see if this is really a situation they’ve been struggling with for any length of time.

    Even if something looks shocking it could have been rolling around for months. As a Christian, you know God can do all kinds of things and sometimes seeing someone else take a step of faith can be the trigger God uses for us. Sure, it’s a little bandwagony but if it accomplishes His purposes it’s not a bad thing.

  2. From the the few comments I have seen from you on Twitter and the “suspect timing,” I think it is safe to say this post is pretty much targeted at me. Let me begin by saying, that though you claim to have the gift of discernment, you do not know me personally. You don’t know my heart, my mind, my struggles, my testimony. My decision to quit blogging was in direct correlation to God’s timing – not Jason Wert’s. Even though his blog receives more traffic than mine did, and was more popular, that hardly makes him a popular “icon.” Even if he was, I don’t follow ‘icons.” I follow Jesus.

    I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology, so I know about Maslow’s Hierarchy, and I know about self-actualization. I also know that it is a THEORY created by man as opposed to the Word of God. As a Christ-follower, I don’t necessarily agree that the goal in my life is to become “self-actualized.” I would much rather be obedient to God than to be self-actualized. I would much rather have a “life more abundant” than to be self-actualized.

    Regarding the issue of thinking vs acting: I would say that too often we as Christians THINK about obeying God too much. So much, that they talk ourselves right out of the necessary action of obedience. That is what I had been doing for close to three months. I knew long ago that God was calling me to quit blogging, but I thought about it too much. I chose to fight Him on it, and I delved even deeper into blogging, which had become an idol for me. I have since learned that when God calls us to something, our reaction should be to pray, seek his will, and wise counsel, but ultimately it is an act of faith, not reason. If we continue to think and dwell on a calling for too long, it is far too easy for us to come up with reasons why we should not or just don’t want to follow God. There is such a thing as thinking too much. It is also easy for Satan to take hold of our thoughts and plant seeds of doubt. I notice that your post says nothing about prayer.

    Last, I loved your recent post, “Unapologetic.” I could totally relate to your struggles to become unapologetic about your faith, and how God apparently called you to a higher faith. So why is it, that now you feel a need to make me feel I should be apologetic for faithfully following what God has been calling me to do?
    Seems a little ironic, doesn’t it? Even a tad bit hypocritical.

    I can assure you I would much rather make a fool of myself by “jumping on -or off- the bandwagon,” than to have to stand before God’s throne someday and answer to Him as to why I didn’t follow Him in obedience in the first place.

    Ultimately, what God has to offer is far more rewarding than blogging will ever be. Let’s face it, blogging is merely a trend or fad. It is fleeting and temporal. I don’t want to be remembered as a “girl who had a few blogs and was on Twitter.” I want to leave a legacy that will have an eternal impact and will ultimately glorify God. As you quoted in your “Unapologetic” post:

    Therefore I will be bold. If the Lord is for me, who can be against me?

    1. There was a very popular young man my sophomore year of college who led a Christian small group. Though I never knew him well, we had several religious studies classes together and I considered him a deep and thoughtful individual who was committed to discovering the truth. That year, he temporarily left Christianity because he didn’t feel that he was sure of his faith.

      During the next week, half a dozen of his friends (who previously had experienced no doubts) likewise left their faith, unprompted by him or anyone else. He posed no challenges or questions to them, so it’s not like they had lost a debate. They simply saw him question and it shook them, so they too declared their agnosticism.

      A month or two later, he declared himself satisfied and once again a Christian, as I was sure he would (for if someone honestly and wholeheartedly seeks the Truth, I am certain they will find Christ). His followers immediately proclaimed themselves Christians once again as well.

      Your situation may have been a catalyst for this post, and I did find it suspect, but you were not my example. I had already read your replies and explanations elsewhere, and it didn’t concern me. If you had been my example, as you assumed, I would have mentioned you directly (as Chris Brewer did). I have no qualms with directness.

      When thinking about this post, I did not want to address any individuals, so I did not. Rather than directly discussing bandwagons and jumping on or off, I decided to diverge from my judgementalism or assumptions and instead focus on our general lack of self-investigation and discipline. For example, a week or two ago I was talking with a new friend who had been through the Financial Peace University but still really struggles with her finances. She knows what she should do, but still doesn’t do it. She went down a path when she was younger that was counter to her intent and surprises her in retrospect. She’s not entirely sure how she got here and she’s likewise having trouble getting out. Those sorts of issues, the ones she deals with, are what inspired this post because I have seen them countless times in working with college students and adults alike.

      I appreciate the thought and time you put into your comment, but I assure you, this post was not directed at you. That being said, I think your story (of knowing God’s call but fighting Him) would be a great witness and I hope to read more about that someday (such as why you fought Him, how, and what the results of that was).

      Lastly, I would offer this: my hope is that you are not negatively judgmental of blogs or bloggers, for your statements, “…what God has to offer is far more rewarding than blogging will ever be. Let’s face it, blogging is merely a trend or fad. It is fleeting and temporal” imply such. I consider blogging neither a trend nor a fad, and it is the manner by which I share all of my writing. Literature has been around for millenia, and the medium of the Internet is just one more tool to share it, similar to the printing press.

      There is a popular machinima writer who ends every video with the phrase, “If glory in this there be, let it be to God, not me.” That is my intent for my writing (including blogging), as well. I write about theology and view this site as part of my ministry. My work for God is neither a fad nor a trend, regardless of whether it is online or off.

      If you do not want to be remembered as a “girl who had a few blogs and was on Twitter,” then you need to do more than that. There is a difference between having a blog and really doing something with it. Tycho at Penny-Arcade blogs three times a week. It is read by over a million people, and with his co-artist Gabe they deliver comics, run two annual conventions that draw tens of thousands of participants, and began a charity that donates well over a million dollars in games to hospitalized children every year. It started as a blog and a web comic, but it impacts people.

      Blogs are about communication. As Christians, we are commanded to make disciples of all peoples, and one of the ways I do that is through blogging. If you have been called elsewhere, then hallelujah that you followed that call. But please do not think less of us who were called to this arena.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s