Identity Relationships

What Will People Think?

College life can be crazy! Spontaneous decisions can break one out of his comfort zones, have some fun, and adventure, not to mention the possibility of doing something stupid. During my college days, we’d have midnight runs to Swansons; the local donut shop that started baking their morning fresh goodies in the dark of night. Their alley sign said. “If you like my donuts, you can call me Swannie.”  

At the first big snow, a bunch of us headed to the local junkyard to buy a car hood; so we could sled down the highest point in town called Top of the Hill. I recall a Fall late-night hangout in the woods with friends. Bonfire, smores, pumpkin carving, and guitars. It was a blast until some guys decided to go “hike with a few girls” beyond the campfire light.  Let’s just say a few fell into the Kansas River! We thought they the zombie apocalypse coming to capture us!

Your 20s

This is the age for self-discovery. A time to explore, have fun, and yes, experiment with new looks, and adventures. I recall a pastor explaining it this way.  “If self-discovery is not life-altering then there is not much to get upset over.”  Sometimes, guys in college grow out their hair and get a man bun and a beard. Others might try piercing something, their ears or nose, or other body parts. When he comes home for a break, his parents do a double-take. “Is this our son?” 

A Word to Mom and Dad

I know, you are paying for all if not a chunk of your son’s education. Yes, you want him to excel in his studies, make friends and have fun. He’s in that no longer a boy and not yet ready for the real world stage. Give him some slack and let him experiment, within reason.

Granted, coming home with a tattoo of a girl’s name he just met might be crossing the line; especially since they have already broken up. But, a man bun, a beard, even some piercings. They are not permanent.  They can be gone in a very short time. 

“But what will our friends and family think of our son?”

Maybe the question actually is “What will our friends and family think of us for having a son that looks like that?”

“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 ESV

What Will People Think?

This goes for both the young man and his parents. Who cares what people think?  I’m not saying throw respect and honor to the window and go all rogue and rebellious on us. I am saying, within the context of a healthy relationship with God and valuing respect and honor, worry less about what people think and more about the character of your soul.  Hair length, piercings, and even tattoos are not salvation issues. They aren’t even moral issues. It’s the legalism in us that has this image of what a good Christian young man looks like. I’ve known of guys with long hair, tattoos and gauges who are madly in love with Jesus. I’ve also seen clean-cut guys who would never pierce or ink anything who are far, far from Jesus. 

Romans 14

That chapter has helped me process my own personal choices. My upbringing, though good, had its unspoken expectations of appearances and behaviors that actually restricted a deeper walk with God.  If you have an interest in a certain self-expression, then here are three key questions to ask.

  1. Is God OK with my choice?  That is, is there anything in the Bible that would speak against my choice?
  2. Am I OK with my choice?  That is, am I doing it out of a healthy walk with Jesus, or am I doing it out of rebellion?
  3. Will it help or hinder others in their walk with Jesus?  Now, this can get tricky. We are to live for the Lord, not people. However, if my actions/choices would cause a brother or sister to stumble in their faith (for example alcohol), then I should not follow through with my choice, at least in their presence, out of respect and honor. However, do not fall into the trap of pleasing people instead of pleasing God.

Anchored in Christ.

Throughout the Bible, we see references to a supernatural relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. By faith, Christ lives his life through us. Our choices matter, but in reality, sometimes we Christians are far harder on each other than God is. If you judge someone for their amoral choices, because it doesn’t fit your image of what a good Christian young man looks like, then it is you that needs to rethink what living for Christ looks like. 

Ever since I was a boy, I worried too much about what people thought of me, my appearance, and my choices. That fear held me back, until, I saw that the most important question is, is Christ evident in my character?

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12 ESV

Explore Manhood

If it’s not an immoral decision you are making, and you have sought God in his Word, and godly counsel, then proceed and don’t worry about what others think. Christ is your life, not others.

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of www.Mentoring-Warriors.com. Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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