I have been reading The Art of War written by Steven Pressfield. It came through two solid references: Donald Miller and Jeff Goins (both very qualified writers/thinkers). Pretending to be a book for creatives, this book has a lot to say to anyone with a pulse.
Having read some of the book, I began searching through time and space to find out more about the author. He has a blog and the first thing I read was an idea about collectively-enforced mediocrity. Pressfield’s book focuses on what he calls resistance.
“Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.”
“To yield to Resistance deforms our spirit.”
The rest of the book processes the idea of resistance and how a creative has to fight it. What struck me about the idea of collectively-inforced mediocrity is how others play into our own resistance. I’ll use youth ministry as an example, but this is really applicable to almost any area. Pressfield describes this concept like this:
“Resistance by definition is self-sabotage. But there’s a parallel peril that also must be guarded against: sabotage by others. Often couples or close friends, even entire families will enter into tacit compacts whereby each individual pledges (unconsciously) to remain mired in the same slough of mediocrity in which he and all his cronies have become so comfortable. The highest treason a crab can commit is to make a leap for the rim of the bucket.”
Yes we self-sabotage. We fear failure, and we fear success. How often though do we fall into the trap of measuring up? When we try to move out of resistance and someone asks why we are changing things, they feed our resistance. Unknowingly, they apply their own resistance to us. This is especially true in youth ministry of Sr. Pastors and parents. How many times do we self-protect in youth ministry when we feel under-appreciated by our pastors? Or worry about a parents reaction to a new aspect of ministry?
The very thing that can free us to do amazing things can be negatively reinforced by other youth pastors as well. Hopefully you have a group of peers that you talk to. In youth ministry, I find it an essential part of my ministry. I need to process ideas and ask for input on what I’m doing. Resistance claims a foothold in this realm as well. Often I meet resistance from other who doubt a new idea. Someone else has tried it, or it just doesn’t work that way.
Others will always be willing to feed our own resistance. Again, Pressfield writes:
“The reason is that they are struggling, consciously or unconsciously, against their own resistance.”
Resistance asks, ”Why would we be able to do something others can’t?” To beat resistance in the form of the collective, we have to be just a careful with others as we are with ourselves.