Peter PanIf you’ve ever heard or read anything by Mark Driscoll, you’ll immediately understand why he is one of the most controversial preachers in the church today.  He is very firm on his doctrine and is very blunt—often to the point of being crass—in expressing his convictions.  Recently, Driscoll traveled to Australia and criticized the church there (at their invitation).  One of the most jarring criticisms was of the young men; he told them to grow up, get involved in the church, get married, start families, etc.  Driscoll refers to young men who don’t do these things as “Peter Pans.”

Now, let’s set aside Driscoll himself and talk about what it means to be a “Peter Pan.”  It’s terrific imagery because:

  • Peter Pan tries to avoid growing up and taking responsibility for the things grown-ups should take responsibility for.
  • Peter Pan lives off in a fantasy world instead of dealing with the problems of the real world.

Guys, does that sound like you?  It sure as heck sounds like me.  It’s remarkable—and disconcerting—how much of the sin in my life falls under this heading.  But perhaps you’re not convinced.  I want to help us all out here by coming up with a (non-exhaustive) list of signs that indicate how you and I may be Peter Pan.  Many of these I gathered from looking in the mirror, while a few I gathered from observing other young men around my own age (these are geared toward guys in their college years or 20s).  I decided to err on the side of being harsh because I’d rather overstate my case than understate it.

You might be Peter Pan if…

  • You spend hours in front of the TV set each day—watching TV or movies or playing video games.
  • You spend hours on your computer each day surfing the Internet aimlessly.
  • You prefer spending time at the TV or computer over actually interacting with the people around you.
  • You always have your iPod earbuds in your ears, even for two-minute walks between classes.  You can’t stand the thought of silence (the horror of it!).
  • You’d rather listen to your music than talk to people.
  • You avoid talking to people you don’t know.  You just hang around your own cozy little circle of friends and never show interest in anyone new.
  • You typically keep your bedroom door closed and your window blinds shut, blocking out the outside world.
  • You use the fact that you’re an introvert as an excuse to avoid other people.  (Sorry, introverts—I’m one, too, and I know this is a crap excuse.)

…and you might be Peter Pan if…

  • You catch yourself daydreaming frequently—in fact, most of your internal reflections are daydreams.
  • You live your live vicariously through your daydreams.
  • You let your daydreams become a substitute for real relationships and real action.
  • You don’t do things you know are right, and you’re not willing to take risks because you know what will happen if you do; somehow, you have attained God’s knowledge of the future, O wisest of sages.

…and you might be Peter Pan if…

  • You don’t get your homework done until the last minute (if at all) and somehow convince yourself that it will take care of itself without you having to lift a finger.
  • You don’t go to bed on time because it’s too much work to get off your butt and get ready for bed.
  • You don’t clean up after yourself because you’re lazy and besides, your roommates will do it for you, just like your mommy used to.
  • You slack off on laundry, grocery store trips, scheduling doctor’s appointments, or anything that will take effort, because it’s just too hard.
  • You waste time at work on one frivolous distraction after another (such as reading this blog) instead of actually doing work.
  • You don’t keep track of your finances because you know that daddy will always be around to bail you out.
  • You whine and complain about any inconvenience (including inconvenient people) that God would dare bring across your path.

…and you might be Peter Pan if…

  • You really like a young woman but you’re too chicken to ask her out.  You’d rather spend your nights sleeplessly pining after her until she turns into an idol.
  • You have every intention of staying single for reasons other than that it will free you up to serve the Lord more effectively (1 Corinthians 7:32).
  • You think of a wife as being a “ball and chain” that will keep you from continuing in your carefree, selfish, indulgent lifestyle.
  • You’re doing nothing—spiritually or financially—to prepare yourself for marriage and leading a family.
  • You’re not actively looking for women whom you’d be interested in marrying.
  • You don’t seek advice from older people on dating, marriage, and being a father.  You figure you’ll just cross that bridge when you come to it.  (It can’t be that hard, right?  And it can’t possibly be as important as my studies!)
  • You haven’t thought through biblical principles that would help you know how to go about dating/courting a young woman.  You’re foolish enough to believe that because the Bible doesn’t use the word dating, God has nothing to say on the subject and you can follow what all your friends are doing.
  • You let daydreams of marriage and sex substitute for the real thing.  Imagining these things is a lot easier than actually winning over a woman’s heart, so you just stick with what you’re good at.
  • You get sexual gratification from pornography, which is perfect for a lazy bum who isn’t willing to handle the responsibilities of leadership and service that are part of the package of sex within marriage.
  • You use sexual fantasy as a narcotic to escape the pain of the real world.
  • You want a girlfriend because you desperately need someone to love you.  You’re needy and clingy.  You fear other people rather than the Lord.
  • You have a girlfriend, and you desperately need her to love you.  You’re needy and clingy.  You fear her rather than the Lord.

…and you might be Peter Pan if…

  • You are not actively serving in a local church like God has insisted that you do (1 Corinthians 12).  You only hang around your buddies in the college ministry.
  • You don’t know anyone at your church who is more than four years older than you.
  • You don’t seek out friendships with older men.  You make no effort to listen and learn from older men.
  • You don’t get enough sleep during the week, and especially Saturday night, so you aren’t alert during the sermon to hear the things God wants to teach you.
  • You’ve never taken time to leaf through your church’s hymnal and marvel at the rich doctrine found in the hymns inside (assuming your church uses a hymnal).
  • You haven’t been baptized and you’ve never really put much thought into it.
  • You skip the Lord’s Supper at Family Gathering service (KSBC only) and think it’s no big deal because being able to put off your homework until Sunday night is more important to you.  Never mind that Jesus told you to do do it in memory of him.
  • You don’t care about church membership.  It’s something you’ll get to one day, maybe, if you feel like it.
  • You care more about the Indianapolis Colts (or other local sports team) than you do about your church, its growth, and the people in it.

…and you might be Peter Pan if…

  • You never spend more than two minutes in prayer, and your prayers sound like a boring grocery list of requests.  You never do anything that would force you to depend on God in prayer.
  • You never pray together with other believers.
  • You never pray for anyone except yourself.
  • You don’t read your Bible for wisdom because you don’t need its wisdom to know how to sit on the couch and watch TV all day, or to spend all day studying for your classes.  You’re totally adequate for these things, so you’ll stick with what you’re good at instead of, you know, actually trusting and obeying God.
  • You don’t memorize scripture because it’s “too hard.”  No, it’s not.
  • You never share the gospel with anyone because you’re too afraid of what people will think of you.  If only that perfect opportunity would just fall into your lap…

…and you might be Peter Pan if…

  • You feel more comfortable referring to yourself as a “guy” rather than a “man.”
  • Other people feel more comfortable referring to you as a “guy” rather than a “man.”
  • People don’t come to you for advice and help for difficult situations in their lives because they know that all you’re good for is your MP3 collection or your knowledge of sports trivia or your knack for acing engineering exams.

Most of these are sins of omission rather than sins of commission.  Many of the “bad” things mentioned aren’t bad in and of themselves (TV, music, sports, studies, etc.).  They’re bad because they replace something that should not be omitted.  Being a Peter Pan is all about sins of omission.

So we’ve identified some of the symptoms, but what is the cancer underlying all these problems?  What is behind this menagerie of sins?  Stay tuned for the sequel—part two out of three.

Also, if you can think of more signs of a Peter Pan, I’d love to read what you have to say.  A woman’s perspective on these would be helpful, too!  So please feel welcome to leave comments.