When I was younger, I had a bumper sticker on my guitar case (I didn’t own a car yet), which said, “Question Authority”. I didn’t choose to follow Jesus until I was nearly 21 years old, and so I had quite a bit of fallow ground that needed plowing in my heart when I was a new Christian.
I had always seen authority in a negative way, in a negative light, because of pain caused to me by authorities in my life, and so I had a hard time learning principles of following Biblical authority.
The bigger challenge for me personally is to respond to authority Biblically, instead of always assume the worst about any and all authority in my life.
The Method or the Messiah?
On the other hand, I have known many people — good people — who are hung up on the exact opposite issues…like how to think for themselves, for lack of better phrase. They are like the Corinthians who were declaring “I am of Paul, I am of Apollos” instead of “I am of Christ!” They easily fall into the other trap of becoming dogmatic disciples of a man (or woman, or ministry) instead of Christ and His Word.
You see this a lot with parenting methods and the teachers of those parenting methods. We can get so wrapped up in being an attachment parent or a “this” parent, or a “that” parent that we miss the big picture of raising our children for the Lord rather than raising them perfectly in “the method.”
Sometimes I get an email in my inbox, both from friends, and by site visitors, asking me what I think of some organization, or some teacher, or some parenting method. I didn’t print the most recent email I received a few months ago because I don’t feel comfortable calling out the names of who we are talking about here (I started to, but it felt like gossip to me).
This did get me thinking though about some generalities in dealing with, for lack of better work again, “hero worship” or “herd mentalities”.
There’s this fine line between being a rebel who won’t listen to anyone else and having a spirit of co-operation and willingness to learn from and with others. There’s a fine line between working together and developing a pack or herd mentality, where we look to the group to tell us how to live specifically (and extra-biblical). I see this in young moms especially.
Walking in the Spirit, Not Mimicking the Flesh
Ideally, as Christians, we are to be led by the Spirit and walk in the Spirit…not led by others in an ungodly way. I think this even happens with people trying to follow the example of others where the feel that mimicking their exact actions, they will become more pleasing to God or have their life in order finally–“if I mimic things just like they are doing maybe that will be what I needed!”
We can’t look at a teacher who has successfully raised their 10 children on the farm, and we think, “Ok, what I need is 10 children and a farm.”
No. What we need is to look to the Lord, to be encouraged in their walk with the Lord, not with the extra-biblical minutiae of their lives. We can’t “Monkey See – Monkey Do” our way through parenting (or any other part of life).
Be Cautious Around Teachers that Love a Following
There are some teachers out there who seem to encourage this sort of thing more than others in how they teach their pet theories very dogmatically.
I know of one popular parenting teacher whose program nearly split a church I was in, and it even caused rifts in some friendships I used to have because I didn’t go with the (non-Biblical) flow of his teachings which were revered by all. This guy may have some great God-given insight but he also has some areas that are opinions based on his own frame of reference that may be presented in a way so as to look like absolute fact.
Looking to the Right Person
The danger is when we as Christians look more to leaders than to the FATHER.
Or, when we read books by others more than we read the Bible.
Or when we talk to our buddies or write leaders or to some teacher for advice more than we pray for the Giver of all wisdom, the Lord.
When it comes to people who are die hard into a certain program, they are almost like fresh off the assembly line clones and drones—and it is scary to me, because I don’t think God wants us to all be cookie cutter copies of some teacher (no matter how good he may be).
My husband has quipped that it is like the old movie “The Stepford Wives” only with the entire family dropped into the 1950s machine.
We, as Christians, obviously must obey the Bible when it is clear, and we must pray about how to apply some of the less specific principles of the Bible.
It is one thing if God gives an individual family a conviction about something, and they do it (this is a good thing)….but when you just have a conviction about it because you are part of a group that dictates this is the right thing to do (without biblical support), that is conformity, not conviction. We are not to be conformed to the pattern of this world but transformed by renewing our minds and submitting ourselves to God as living sacrifices. (Romans 12:1-2)