Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Rethinking Resistance

Teaching Resistance
Often when we warn students of the dangers of partaking in certain activities, it goes in one ear and out the other. Even worse, it sometimes adds the element of intrigue, of something forbidden. It is important to discuss the dangers of succumbing to temptation, but we ought to go further. The reasons they are being tempted should be explored. They should be made aware that resisting temptation could reveal critical secrets about the inner landscape of their hearts.

How did Odysseus endure the temptation of the Sirens? He planned his resistance even before the temptation presented itself. He knew his own weaknesses and understood his fallibility. Thus, Odysseus ordered his men to bind him securely to the mast of his ship. Furthermore, he demonstrated wisdom by preparing a secondary line of defense against the allure of the Sirens’ song—he ordered two of his strongest men to guard him lest he break his bonds in passionate fury and throw himself over the side of the ship into the treacherous waters below.

What does being “bound to the mast” mean for our students today? The Greek king ordered himself bound to the mast to head off temptation before it could wield its power. Temptation is much easier to defeat prior to the exertion of its magnetic pull. How can adolescents in our day and age bind themselves to the masts of their ships?
Resisting temptation may mean making a commitment to avoid situations where the individual would encounter the thing that tempts them. In this case, it would require a young person to take a personal inventory and acknowledge their areas of weakness when it comes to temptation. Perhaps a young person can recognize that he has a propensity to sell out his true friends when the opportunity to “hang” with the popular crowd presents itself.
In this case, he must identify the settings in which he feels tempted to betray his real friendships in order to acquire popularity and make a commitment to stay away from them. Maybe there is a student who finds herself tempted to drink or take drugs. If this typically happens whenever she is at an unsupervised party, she will most likely need to make a resolution to stay away from the party scene. Finally, if an adolescent finds himself lured into sexual activity, it is undoubtedly due to a combination of factors, such as being alone with his significant other and possibly spending time around others that brag about various exploits. Such a student would do well to distance himself from these things, thus muting the song of the Sirens.
The Old Testament records the story of Joseph and Potipher’s wife. When Joseph was working as a servant at Potipher’s house, the wife of his Egyptian master attempted to seduce him. Instead of trying to summon the strength to resist her advances, Joseph simply fled the predicament, hence avoiding a problematic situation before the temptation became too strong. Further, Joseph protected his personal integrity, his character, and ultimately his heart. As adult leaders, we must understand that this is easier said than done for the students we work with, but it is really the only effective strategy for countering temptation.
Strength in Numbers
Odysseus didn’t try to overcome the lure of the Sirens on his own. Rather he called upon two of the strongest members of his crew to help him stay in control. Students too will need to rely on others who can help them stay away from situations in which they are tempted to do something destructive. Have the adolescents in your sphere of influence identify two or more friends that can be trusted to help them avoid admitted areas of weakness or to encourage them to stand up under it.
The book of Proverbs declares that a “cord of three strands is not easily broken.” Legend has it that prior to his conquests, Genghis Khan’s mother asked him to break an arrow in half with his hands. He did so with great ease. She then handed him three arrows and asked him to do the same. Unable to snap the three arrows, Genghis Khan understood the meaning of his mother’s exercise. There is strength in numbers!

Labels: , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

Academics Blogs - Blog Top Sites