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Do young people worry about what others think?
Yes—they are just like the rest of us! Teens do not necessarily worry about it more than others but they do worry about it more obviously. Concerns about approval, rejection and ‘fitting in’ seem more painful and intensified. What Do You Think of Me? Why Do I Care? is my recent attempt to help younger Christians with these fears.
Why did I write this book?
Actually, I can’t take credit for the idea. I was asked to write it. I have been interested in this topic for many years and when the request came for me to refocus my thoughts to make them meaningful for a younger audience, the idea grew on me. If we can get them when they are young . . .
Why am I interested in this topic?
This issue is always fresh for me. Worrying about what other people think is an old friend. It is something I am alert to most every day.
I am also especially interested in simplifying biblical material, making it more accessible and persuasive. When I first became a Christian I was only interested in the content of Scripture; I didn’t really care about the packaging. I wanted to get to the core of the teaching. Just the facts please! I would get impatient when preachers gave illustrations because I thought they were wasting valuable time when they could be pouring more content into me.
But now when I read Scripture, I find that beautiful truths are placed in attractive and persuasive packages. The literary polish of Proverbs is a good example. As you read it, you can feel how each author is laboring to present wisdom succinctly, beautifully and persuasively. I am more and more interested in how to do such things and hope this book reflects that.
Here’s a description of one attempt. First, I try to quickly capture human experience:
we want to fit in and we want to stand out.
Then, I offer a biblical idea to address that, and just as reader interest might be waning—I ask the reader some questions. I don’t exactly ask, “Are you still with me?” but the questions serve that purpose. As in my counseling, I hope that the questions will show my sympathy for how hard it is to listen to someone else talk too long, or write too long in this case.
Will a book aimed at young people will be out of date quickly?
No, I don’t think so. Every generation confronts the same basic struggles. Scripture addresses timeless matters, so if I exegete it faithfully, the results should not reflect cultural fads. I hope this book will fit that genre, whether it goes out of print in a year or not. But there is another sense in which I would be glad to re-write it in ten years. Authors change and grow. What they write should do the same.
It is a great blessing for me to write a book. I am forced to think more deeply and clearly than I otherwise would. Every book comes with an implicit contract, similar to the one embedded in most sermons. The contract is this: I swear that the material I write or speak has influenced my own life. That is an irresistible perk. Without it, I wouldn’t bother writing anything.
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