Tell Me What I Want to Hear
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions . . . 2 Timothy 4:3-4
When I began doing some Olympic lifting a couple of years ago, I thought I knew how to lift weights. I did not. Six years later and I still don’t have very good form, mobility, or technique. I watch those guys in the Olympics and I think, Yeah, that’s how I do it. Then I see a video or picture of me and I think, Oh, that guy is really struggling. But I like to compete, so I want to get better. To this end, I need a coach. Daily, I need someone to tell me how I’m doing it wrong, so I can learn to do it right. The problem is, I prefer to be told that I’m fine just the way I am. What I need to hear however, is critique, so that I may grow and improve.
No one likes criticism, even when it’s constructive. We’d all prefer to be told that the way we’re fine the way we are. The problem is that none of us will be perfect in this life. We will always need to grow and change. The Christian life is one of continual transformation, perpetually pursuing and enjoying the new life of abandoning ourselves to follow Christ. We, however, would much prefer to simply stay in one place and be told that we’re just fine the way we are.
Paul addressed this phenomenon in today’s passage. In it, he described a coming day when people would avoid anyone who spoke truth, gravitating towards those who would simply echo what they want to hear. That day is now. Just like most of us watch only a specific news station that reflects our own political beliefs, we prefer to surround ourselves with those who affirm our status quo. If we’re struggling with alcohol, we don’t spend time at an AA meeting. We’d rather surround ourselves with others who’re also drinking. You’re fine just the way you are. We need coaching and correction though. We need those who would honestly tell us that we’re not OK – that we need to change.
Weekly, I meet with a group of guys who get together just for that purpose. We all still have struggles in life and so, we share those struggles. Just like going to the gym for coaching, we purposefully seek out others who would correct our wayward thoughts and actions. We don’t like criticism, but we know that we need it. If we want to continue to grow, seeking the new life, we must continually embrace correction and transformation – even when we don’t want to hear it.