We must not be satisfied with simply being better than the average teenager. Such a classification reinforces, rather than combats, the myth of adolescence. As the old saying goes, “The exception only proves the rule.”
~ From the recent post, “Rebelize Your Youth Group” ~
Joel posted the following excellent response to my above statement. I post it here in it’s entirety because he develops our thoughts in a wonderfully articulate way:
You have really hit the nail on the head. When I was a youth a great deal was often made about how well behaved I was, and how I never rebelled against my parents. It always disturbed me. One of the reasons for this is just what you’ve pointed out: by lifting me up as exceptional, the grown-ups were giving implicit acknowledgement of the “rule” my exception supposedly proved. The truth is that the question “will you or will you not rebel against your parents” is a remedial question to begin with. If you decide “I won’t get my eyebrows pierced and sell crack,” you’re then left with a bigger and better question: “what will you do then?”
The real danger for youths intent on rebelution is that these smarter-than-the-average-bear kudos can become the new (and easy) standard. Unfortunately we often get praise for things which weren’t particularly difficult to achieve. If we focus on the props and encouragement of those who have low expectations for us, we become mediocre.
It can be challenging to set our sights on excellence, particularly when we’re hearing that we’re already there. One of life’s greatest lessons, which we all must learn could be expressed in the phrase, “That was nothing. Watch this.”
Now on to the application: I think it is appropriate for excellence-focused rebelutionaries to call their youth leaders, pastors, teachers and parents on their faint praise for standing out. Challenge yourselves and others to call the normal things “normal”, and save that word “excellence” for things which really are.