“I wish that I could be like the cool kids,
‘Cause all the cool kids, they seem to fit in.”
—From Cool Kids by Echosmith
They “seem” to fit in—right? They are popular and have it all together with big smiles and maybe even bigger bank accounts. They are surrounded by other “cool kids,” and it sure seems like everybody else wants to be just like them.
But trust me…you don’t want to be just like them.
But you might ask—why not? After all, wanting to fit in and be popular feels like a basic human need—and who in their right mind would seek out being shunned and possibly ridiculed by the cool kids?
I agree that acceptance is a basic human need—and being ridiculed isn’t usually at the top of one’s “to do” list. But please keep in mind that God placed the need for recognition in our hearts in the first place, so that we would seek His approval and not the world’s! Check out this great truth from the Apostle Paul:
Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant (Galatians 1:10).
Back in the day (as in 2000 years ago), Paul was definitely one of the “cool kids.” Before he became a Christian, he rolled around with some serious Hebrew swag, and everybody wanted to be like him. But after he gave his life to following Jesus, his whole perspective on being popular was radically altered. Here are his “lyrics” about being a cool kid:
The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him (Philippians 3:7-9, MSG).
You see, Paul knew something that we need to know. And that is, people who crave recognition fall into a number of traps—the main one being that “coolness” is about as relative as what the temperature feels like. Some days you might be “cool,” but like a storm that rolls up unexpectedly, your popularity can vanish like the sun behind a cloud. In Paul’s case, the day he decided to follow Jesus was the day he was banned from the popular crowd—but he didn’t care in the least!
That’s because following Jesus is not only NOT a trap—it is freedom from the slavery of wanting to be liked or popular. It is knowing that you are deeply loved and totally accepted, regardless of what anyone else thinks.
And bonus—I just read a study that came out recently from the University of Virginia: “teens who tried to act cool in early adolescence were more likely than their peers who didn’t act cool to experience a range of problems in early adulthood.” (Source: CNNLiving.com)
Problems like alcoholism and drug use, as well as legal troubles. It would seem that the “cool kids” tend to have their 15 minutes (or 3 years) of fame in high school, but when they get out into the real world, they find that the pursuit of popularity is a sign of immaturity and insecurity.
Turns out being “cool” in school may set you up for being a ‘loser’ in life! Who knew???
So if you are reading this and you are struggling with not being a ‘cool kid’ because of your commitment to Jesus, take joy in these words from the Savior:
God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way (Matthew 5:11-12).
Does this say blessed are the “cool kids”? Nope…but God blesses (gives you joy) when you sacrifice temporary popularity for eternal reward. If you focus on following Jesus and THE Cause, then you truly “get it”!
Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action
The struggle to fit in and be cool is a very difficult journey when you are in middle school or high school, but if you focus on seeking the approval of Jesus rather than people, you will find a depth of contentment that all the applause in the world could never bring!
Accelerant: Fuel for THE Cause
Pray: Dear Jesus, forgive us for seeking the approval of people more than Your approval. Give us strength to resist the temptation to be popular and compromise our walk with You, and help us lead others to the truth of Your love for them.
Read: Luke 9:25. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?
Get: Reverse…Live Differently. In the Old Testament, Daniel is a clear example of someone who lived differently than the “cool crowd.” Pick up a copy of Reverse today! This 21 day student devotional based on the life of Daniel will help you see for yourself how God can use the “uncool kids” to impact a nation and change the world!
Discussion Guide for Leaders
Big Idea: The Cool Kids video is a reminder that the pursuit of popularity is empty and even damaging, but pursuing Jesus is fulfilling, empowering and eternally rewarding.
Key Scripture: Galatians 1:10
- Do you want to be popular? Why or why not?
- Why do you think popular kids struggle after high school?
- How might following Jesus cost you your popularity?
- How can you apply this Soul Fuel to THE Cause?