The Nitpicker’s Corner: Persuasion

“Guys in their twenties act like they know everything and are never wrong.” Such was said by one of my good friends, and she mentioned how infuriating it could be to listen to guys do this, so I suggested she let them have it sometime, but her response was that she’s not that mean. Her statement is true, though. There’s something in a lot of twenty-something males that causes them to believe they have all the answers. They feel they have figured everything out, are convicted it is their mission to tell everybody this, and in the process they never listen to what anyone else has to say.

This is usually when we look at a guy and label him as a prick.

I didn’t ask my friend if she thought I’m like that because I have already been given that answer from other people. In the past—say, two years ago—people voluntarily called me out for it. My friend, as if she had read my mind, said she wasn’t referring to me with her cathartic statement of aggravation, so I negated her and said, “Yeah, but I still do it.”

This is a tendency I have to jab at, but hopefully God is doing a redemptive work by showing me day in and day out how little I really know. The twenty-something male needs to be humbled badly. I wonder if (just speaking from my own story) the root problem causing these guys to get on their high horse has to do with confusion over what the true element of persuasion is. Somewhere along the line a lot of us guys got the impression we can persuade people and change their minds to see our “light” by simply talking to them, by reasoning, by laying out where we’re coming from so as to show the veracity and airtight nature of our argument. And yet, this is never how winning people over will work because we all know it’s passion that moves people to take action or change. It has nothing to do with mere words. We see this in Christ by how little of the Gospels is taken up with him talking. Sure, there’s the Sermon on the Mount and longer parables, but for most of the New Testament he’s always doing something. Using his hands, feet, saliva, tears. There’s a tactile edge to his ministry. And this changed people.

But for whatever reason, most twenty-something guys don’t pick up on this clue and just become a thorn in everyone’s side, especially when it comes to things of a theological nature. I can’t be positive about this, but I think the following might be what happens: we read the Bible, discover some nugget of truth, latch onto it, see it isn’t being lived out to perfection around us (or what we think is perfection), and believe it’s our God-given mission to tell everyone why they’re wrong. Are we passionate? Yes, but passion needs corporal agreement to keep it going, or else it will run out of gas. So when people avoid the obnoxious twenty-something male, the only way in which he can keep fueling his passion is to fabricate a self-righteous indignation over how no one is magnetized to the things for which he is zealous. He becomes a nasty cycle, and he’s completely oblivious to what he has become—blinded, if you will by his passion.

Often it is all done in the name of God, a desire to see the kingdom of God restored on earth, or a yearning to be more like Christ. This is what he tells himself. But I wonder. Is it that he cares about God? Or is he just upset that nobody’s agreeing with him with that same enthusiasm with which he agrees with himself? I think more than anything the twenty-something male feels lonely up on that high horse, is consumed by a subsequent loss of pride and confidence, and so he fights tooth and nail to get it back, but only ends up expressing his tortuous loneliness. I bet he doesn’t even realize he’s doing it. I know I’ve been oblivious time and again.

The nasty cycle he created amounts to him sitting by himself in a corner nitpicking at every little thing that irritates him. He’s searching for utopia and exasperated when the people around him aren’t doing their job to effect such perfection. And so he stays in that corner, quite possibly for a long time. Because it’s easier to nitpick. It’s so much simpler than anything else. For a good majority of the last two years or more, I’ve been content to do just that, the peak of my cynicism coming last December.

For example, I have about twenty drafts of articles, essays, blog posts, whatever you want to call them all written some two years ago. And they’ve just been sitting in my computer and will probably be deleted before too long, because when I go back and read them now, I’m appalled and am convinced they should never see the light of day. Even some posts I’ve let come to the surface on this site make me cringe a little, though not as much as the hidden articles on my hard drive. They’re so angry-sounding. Bubbles of vehemence undulating through the sky and popping at the slightest prickling intimation of something rubbing it the wrong way. Each one their own dormant volcano. Reading them, I’m convinced it was as if no one could do anything right.

Reading those things is like interacting with a different person. If a guy sitting across from me were spouting some of sentiments in those un-posted articles of mine, it wouldn’t be long before I’d give him a look of deranged bewilderment as if to say, “Who appointed you king?” It’s pitiful, really, watching a twenty-something guy expend so much energy on his breath and words when they really won’t amount to much in the end because people are tired of listening to him. This is why I don’t put hardly any stock in this blog. It doesn’t mean anything. Yes, I love writing, and it makes me smile when someone says they enjoyed reading a post, but beyond that it’s pretty meaningless. Already in my short life, I can look back and trace with certainty the moments where I know beyond doubt that I’ve impacted someone’s life, and almost always it didn’t occur because I sat down and typed something.

But until the twenty-something male begins to realize that he operates under a faulty premise of persuasion, he’s just going to keep growing a rather nefarious habit. And the longer that fire grows and burns, the more it spreads over into other realms. Often it picks the Church as its target. But this post is too long, so that topic can be saved for next time.

Much love.

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