Published on June 13th, 2009 | by Alex and Brett Harris

Don’t Let Them Despise You




We posted about this message over a year ago when it was delivered and still highly recommend it to every rebelutionary. Seriously. If you haven’t listened to it yet you are missing out. To our knowledge, there is no better message on 1 Timothy 4:12.

Anyway, I stumble across this video excerpt the other day and felt it was worth sharing as a stand-alone piece — especially if accompanied by some questions for reflection and discussion. Take the time to watch the video (above) and work through the questions below, whether personally and privately or along with your fellow rebelutionaries in the comment section.


Some questions for discussion:

  • Piper shares seven negative characteristics of youth — disrespect, rebellion, self-absorption, cliquishness, conformity to peer pressure, indifference to serious issues, and a fixation on fun as the only thing that satisfies. Are any of these qualities pronounced in your life?
  • Piper makes it clear that we must not be indifferent to what adults think, but neither should we see adult opinions as supreme. Which of these two errors is a greater temptation for you?
  • Ultimately, we must look to God’s standards to guide our behavior. Are you growing (by grace through faith) in obedience to God’s standards “in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity?”
  • Holly’s “Bonus” Question from the Comment Section: Ephesians 4:22-32 instructs us to “take off” certain sins by “putting on” the God-glorifying opposites of those sins. For example, replacing stealing with honest work, and replacing corrupting talk with encouragement. If we are to effectively take off the negative qualities Piper describes, what would be the opposites of these that we should put on?

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About the Author

are the co-founders of TheRebelution.com and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.



  • Zachariah T. Hazlett

    What is cliqishness? Can it possibly be that the problem isn’t fixation on fun, but what you decide is fun? To the last question, Only God’s opinions,(Commands) are supreme, but we should look to the the wise for guidence in our own opionions. Great post!! Quite thought-provoking!=-) :-)

  • Brittany

    I think to answer the first question that disrespect shows sometimes in my life.
    2. i think that believing that adults opinion is supreme shows more in my life than my indifference to them.
    3. YES

  • >>>Piper shares seven negative characteristics of youth — disrespect, rebellion, self-absorption, cliquishness, conformity to peer pressure, indifference to serious issues, and a fixation on fun as the only thing that satisfies. Are any of these qualities pronounced in your life?
    A: Unfortunately, I used to have problems with rebellion and peer pressure.
    I always wanted to rebel against my parents and God, this was a few years ago but I managed to stop rebelling before it was too late.
    I have also been put into wrong situations before due to peer pressure, and I regret that.
    I pray everyday for God to forgive the mistakes I’ve made in my life and I try to steer clear of making the same mistakes again.
    If I am correct, cliquishness means ” close group of friends or coworkers with similar interests and goals, whom outsiders regard as excluding them” so the answer to that part of the question would have to be yes, I do have a group of friends that have similar interests and goals, and outsiders would probably exclude them and myself.

    >>>Piper makes it clear that we must not be indifferent to what adults think, but neither should we see adult opinions as supreme. Which of these two errors is a greater temptation for you?
    A: I often find myself not caring more then finding it supreme.
    It’s one of my faults and I am trying to fix that, but it is not easy, so I am seeking guidance from God.
    by not caring I tend to disobey my parents and do my “own” thing.

    >>>Ultimately, we must look to God’s standards to guide our behavior. Are you growing (by grace through faith) in obedience to God’s standards “in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity?”
    A: I am trying my absolute best to follow God’s standards.
    Though it’s not easy, I am working hard to change my old habits.
    I bite my tongue when I want to lash out, I do things without being told when I’d rather watch TV or play video games and I am spending more 1-on-1 time with God.

    I’ve been diving deeper into the standards God sets for us, and I’ve realized, none of them are impossible.
    Some people act like God is expecting impossible things from them, but that’s not true.
    All God asks is that we obey and worship Him with all our hearts, obey our parents and live a life that he’d be proud of.
    I used to think that in order to meet God’s standards, I’d have to go to a foreign country, preach his word or go on missions trips, but that’s not true.
    I can serve Him from my very own home. =)

    Blessings
    Alesia

  • Taylor

    * Piper shares seven negative characteristics of youth — disrespect, rebellion, self-absorption, cliquishness, conformity to peer pressure, indifference to serious issues, and a fixation on fun as the only thing that satisfies. Are any of these qualities pronounced in your life?

    •••Yes, unfortunately. Sometimes disrespect. I’m sure most people struggle with that at least once in their life. Also, Indifference to Serious Issues. Well, not exactly. More ignorance to serious issues and fear to ask about it.

    * Piper makes it clear that we must not be indifferent to what adults think, but neither should we see adult opinions as supreme. Which of these two errors is a greater temptation for you?
    •••I would have to say the latter. To see adult opinions as supreme and not dare suggest, or ask about anything.
    * Ultimately, we must look to God’s standards to guide our behavior. Are you growing (by grace through faith) in obedience to God’s standards “in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity?”
    •••As I said similar in a comment before, although not new to religion, new to Godliness. Not new to going to church, praying and such, but new to actually believing in what I do for God. Therefore, I am only just starting out, but I pray that God will help me in my trials and give me strength to do all he commands me.

    Be blessed,
    Taylor

  • Kate Victoria

    1. Yes. I have a problem with disrespect and rebellion.
    2. Adult opinions as supreme.
    3. Yes, by the grace of God.
    This is really thought provoking. Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Kay Morris

    1. I do struggle with disrespect and conformity to peer pressure.
    2. Definately the former
    3. I REALLY hope so. It’s so funny. I am writing a blog post on this verse. I’m breaking it apart piece by piece. This is definately a help. :)
    ~Kay Morris

  • Tony Rodriguez

    This is a video that all teens should see.

  • 1, disrespect, rebellion
    2. indifferent to adult opinions
    3. fo’ sure… hard in a home that doesnt dig Jesus, but by God’s grace im persevering through to fight for joy in serving older people

    that message was hot, i remember you guys recommending it around this time last year. we should most def air j on ’em foes (or with em’ bros) with what paul has to say to us!

  • Kay Morris

    I’m sorry Sean John, but I didn’t understand a word (or half-word) of the last part of your comment. I was never taught how to read or write that way. I don’t want to sound rude or criticizing, because I am not trying to criticize you. I just want to know what you have to say, and I can’t do that if I can’t understand what you wrote. Maybe you could come back and put it in plain and simple words.
    Thanks,
    Kay Morris

  • Camille

    1. Disrespect is a HUGE issue in my life. I’ve been trying to work on it. But it isn’t really getting any better. I love my parents a lot, but they just seem to annoy me all the time. I always thought that you don’t have to listen to them if they aren’t right. Not entirely true. My parents don’t have to earn my respect, I just need to give it whether they are perfect or not.
    I’m homeschooled so I get very little peer pressure.

    2. I would say I deal more with indifference.

    3. I’m trying to! But most of the time, it just seems like I forget to do it. I want to live and act in a way pleasing to the Lord, but all that goes out of my head as soon as I get upset!

    Great post!

  • Holly M.

    Contemplating Piper’s list of negative youth characteristics, I thought of Ephesians 4:22-32, which discusses effectively “taking off” certain sins by “putting on” the God-glorifying opposites of those sins. For example, replacing stealing with honest work, and replacing corrupting talk with encouragement. If we are to effectively take off the negative qualities Piper describes, what would be the opposites of these that we should put on?

  • What a gift John Piper is to our generation! What an amazing, special gift from God–for us.

  • Elizabeth Kelley

    2) I think it’s probably easy to see adult’s opinion as supreme, rather than ignoring it. It’s so tempting to let yourself “off the hook” when an adult sees that you make your bed every morning and turn your homework in on time. “What a great kid!” The easiest thing to do, at that point, is to sit back and relax. You are, after all, a “good kid.” But we’re not called to relax! We’re called to “strive to excel in building up the church.” (I Cor. 14:12, ESV)
    3) Yes. To reiterate, through grace and through faith, not of my own doing.)
    4) Let’s see, he mentioned:
    *Disrespect – Obviously, the opposite of that is respect. That’d mean obedience (right away, all the way, with a happy heart, to borrow from common toddler teachings,) courtesy, love, etc.
    *Rebellion – the opposite, submission. Not getting into arguments, not quietly (or loudly) brooding in your room because you weren’t allowed to go see the movie or go to the party or what-have-you
    *Self-absorption – The opposite would be being others-focused. Taking time out of your day to hang out with siblings, especially those who are younger. Talking about something besides me, me, me.
    *Cliquishness – Not really sure what an antonym for that is. But examples would be talking to people outside of your normal group of friends. (Harder than it sounds, right?) It’s not just talking; inviting people over, even letting people the circle of people with whom you are talking can go a long way. I think, again, reaching out to those younger than oneself goes a mile.
    *Conformity to peer pressure – Again, not really a one-word opposite. Standing one’s ground, having convictions for which one is willing to look weird, stupid, or uncool. Speaking up when someone is doing something they ought not to be doing.
    *Indifference to serious issues – INTEREST! Part of that is actually caring about elections or taxes or energy or abortion or… whatever. I think that part of caring about it means taking the time to read up on it. It’s sort of difficult to be interested in something if you know nothing about it.
    *Fixation on “fun, fun, fun” as the only thing that satisfies – Too many words to contradict that one. First off, GOD is what satisfies. Doing His work, not wrapping ourselves up in our bubbles of comfort and pleasure, has lasting reward. That’d mean doing things that aren’t fun if they are valuable things. Hanging out with your younger siblings (sometimes fun, but not always.) Obeying your parents, finishing your school on time, reading your Bible, etc.
    (VERY good question, by the way! Thanks so much for that, Holly!)

    Wow, quite a long comment there. Sorry ’bout that. Solo de gloria!

  • 1. I can honestly say that none of those characteristics are pronounced in my life. They may pop up at rare times during tough situations, but none of them are the norm for me.

    2. It really depends on who the adult is. I really look up to my Mom so I would probably believe whatever she said! On the other hand I might be indifferent to the advice of an unfamiliar adult.

    3. I hope I am! I have definitely determined, since reading ‘Do Hard Things’, that I want to help change the world’s perception of youth. Timothy 4:12 tells us how to do that and with the Lord’s help I can make a difference and grow in Him.

    4. Respect, submission to authority, genuine concern for others before ourselves, being a friend to the friendless, working hard to make your own decisions and maybe even becoming positive peer pressure for other teens, dedicating time and money to serious issues, and hard work and spending fun time wisely.

  • Victoria Houser

    1. At different times in my life I have struggled with all of these attitudes sometimes even two or three at a time. But now that I have given them to God and constantly pray about them as they come up I don’t have a very hard time fighting them. Some are still harder than others, like self-absorption and disrespect.

    2.I would definitely say the latter. I have always kind of put adults opinions as supreme because I’ve struggled with disrespect in the past. But I know that God has set me free from that and I am called to live according to grace not by the laws or nature of this world.

    3. Yes, I have been learning to look to what God says about faith, love, and purity instead of what the world or some of my close friends say.

    4. I just read about this and it’s so cool that you brought it up Holly!
    we should trade disrespect for respect (obviously), rebellion for submission to God’s standards, self-absorption for selflessness in following God will, Cliquishness for loving our neighbor as ourselves (which includes basically everyone), conformity to peer pressure for taking a stand when and where God wants us to, Indifference to serious issues for trusting that God will use us wherever and whenever He wants to, and Fixation on fun as the only thing that satisfies for a meaningful, deep relationship with Jesus as the only thing that satisfies.

    Wow, those were great questions and they really helped me to dig deeper and give more thought to the subject, especially the last one. Thanks Holly!

    Your sister in Christ,
    Victoria

  • kayli

    I have tried pleasing the Christian adults in my life, but I realized that it doesn’t work. Sooner or later they judge you for something, even if it’s perceived. In fact, even living just to please your parents (my dad is an assistant pastor) isn’t a wise aim. Strive to please God. I used to listen to what the older women would say was the best way to act, when I should have been looking to the Bible. Let’s start living to please GOD rather than people, no matter who they are. It’s the best way to live.

  • Gerard,24

    Keep up the rebelution guys.It’s a blessing to this generation of teens.God bless Alex,God bless Brett,God bless Piper,and God bless you all.

  • Holly M.

    Thanks for all the input on my question. Those answers will help me practically apply the wisdom of this message. I’m very glad the question has been beneficial.

  • Sarah

    Hey! I read your dad’s article in HSLDA this afternoon! It was wonderful. Please tell him I was very encouraged and can’t wait to apply those principles with my kids. I’ve been very blessed to have parents who have believed in the “greenhouse” principles from the very beginning. I am soon to start training to be a nurse. (yay) 😀

  • Bethany

    one thing that i find interesting about 1 Timothy 4:12 is that it says “do not let ANYONE look down on you because you are young…” not just adults, not just parents, but ANYONE. that includes your siblings, your peers. they may not always look down on you neccesarily because you are young but the reaction we have should be the same wether it’s looked down upon for age, race, religion, social status, friends, family, hobbies, etc, etc, the loist goes on and on. one thing we need to not do is focus so much on just age. not saying it’s bad to do what we’re doing here, it’s awesome what is being done, but it is a risk that should be considered

  • Carrie Joy

    In thinking about 1 Timothy 4:12 “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity,” I asked why does he speak to youth. It has to be more than the fact that they are annoying, because they are not the only ones looked down upon or despised. Why does he not speak to the poor or the elderly or the infirm? It, of course, is not implying that they should not be examples in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity, but they are not the ones being addressed.

    So why are youth, this despised group, chosen to be an example? Perhaps with their youthful energy, they are more able to strive. Perhaps in their still childlike faith, they are able to know Jesus in a more genuine way? But perhaps they are exhorted because it will be most difficult for them. One of the things that set youth apart from other despised groups is that youth think they are pretty big stuff. The poor, elderly, and infirm don’t think they have it all together, nor are they confident in there independence. Youth, however, often do think they are fully capable of all that life brings to them. Perhaps he address them to be examples because the only way to truly be a leader is to serve – the only way to be an example is to be humble.

    Rather than simply providing a list of things that we need to do, or not do, Paul is pointing to exactly the core issue – our youthful pride. We want to be an example – people to look to us, but the only way to do that is to not put ourselves forward. Perhaps that is why God keeps bringing me back to the phrase, “It is not what you do, but what God does in you.” It takes the focus off of me and puts it back on Christ.

  • I recently started reading your book, and i must say it is completely life, and thought changing. I used to think that some of the things I do are quite great. Now I realize that they are actually rather normal. You two inspire me to become more ‘radical’ for God. This blog is interesting in that it doesn’t necessarily say to completely rebel against all that adults are and it doesn’t say to completely ignore them either. It says something that really makes sense. Take what they tell us, evaluate it and see whether it is from God. If it is, try to make it better and if it is not the disregard it i suppose. It definitely makes me think. I really like this

  • Emily

    To those questions, 1. Yes, i think most teenagers struggle with those things, Although i try to over come them, they are so common and overlooked by others often times i don’t even realize i am doing those things, of course that gives me no excuse
    2. I think that being indifferent to what adults think is way bigger temptation for me, sometimes i feel as if no matter what i do most adults (mainly in church and school environment) will have some kind of problem with it, so in result i stop caring if i offend them or annoy them, seems useless to care often times. Now i am starting to rtealize the more responsibility and expectation you give yourself the more others will respect you
    3. Doing my best

    Btw thank you so much for writing that book it has helped me so much spiritually!!!!!!

  • Sarah A.

    1.) I would say I struggle with a little bit of each one but I think I struggle with cliquishness the most. The friends I have are awesome and they encourage be unlike most of the other kids in my grade. But there are a few other kids that I should probably hang out with because they encourage me too. So towards the end of the school year I started hanging out with my old friends and some other people.

    2.) I would have to agree with Emily – not being indifferent to what adults think. I would say it’s hard for me because once in a while I put my shoes in their position and would have done something completely different. Most of the time though I just have to take a deep breath and trust that what they did/ are doing is what’s best.

    3.) I would say that I am doing my best at doing it all but as everyone knows nobody’s perfect and so I’m not doing everything perfectly but I’m trying my best to do everything I can.

    ~Sarah

  • What John Piper had preached is in fact true, and young people like us must be like Timothy, who was mentored by Paul, to live an exemplary life to the believers in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, and in purity. We live in a world that has very low expectations on young generation maybe because of the false notions we get on media, books, popular beliefs which are contrary to the right one.

    Paul wanted Timothy to hang one amidst the despising he experienced and still be an example to them, the believers. We believers must be living a life not only in word, but must have the whole character as we have our Lord Jesus Christ as our Advocate, doing and walking as our Lord Jesus Christ’s ambassadors and light to this murky world we live in.
    A generation that would love, obey, serve and follow God is that should we be.

  • Nathan

    Believe me, it is EXTREMELY difficult to respect my parents, and it is not their fault. My prideful desires wan’t things to go my way, to stay my way, to be, my way. But that is not how it works. We are to obey and respect our parents.

    Also, the teenage “time to have fun” was engulfing me till my mom discovered the Rebolution. If it wasn’t for you guys and men like Piper, Alcorn, etc. I would be losing the most valuable days of my life. Piper put it perfectly.

    P.S. Does anyone have any hints on how to eliminate those “negative” characteristics??

  • MorganKay

    Im with Nathan and Piper(:
    It IS hard to respect our parents, even though God said “Obey your father and Mother…”. But im working on it and gradually getting better(:

  • ClaireC

    I’m speaking at my youth group this week on Doing Hard Things with a lot of focus on 1 Timothy 4:12 and this video has helped a lot.

    Answering the questions the video presents though:

    1.Some of them, mainly disrespect and disregard to serious issues; my solutions to these are to respect the authority in my life, even though it might be hard because by honoring the authority in my life, I am honoring God who put that authority in place (also honoring God’s word which commands its). As for disregard to serious issues? I’ll try to turn to the Scripture to find God’s answer to these issues and to reach my own conclussions based on the Word and on paying attenion.

    2.My error in this question would be to view adults as indifferent because that’s how they appear. I should give them credit for what they are in my life without puttting them above God’s will and Word in the situation.

    3. What else can I say? I’m workin’ on it.

    BONUS: Instead of reading fanfiction, I should read God’s Word. Instead of wasting time on the computer, I should be on The Rebelution Blog learning (Or, ya’ know, reading the Bible some more), and ultimatly I need to replace the un-Godly influences in my life with Godly ones; or as many of them as possible.

    Also, I would appreciate prayer as I prepare God’s message for my youth group this Sunday.

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