Our hyper-individualism is making everyone miserable.


Our hyper-individualism is making everyone miserable.

Hyper-Individualism: A tendency for people to act in a highly individual way, without regard to others around them.

Different cultures have different core values.

If you travel much you already know this. Visit parts of Africa or China on a business trip or a short-term missions trip and you may see nothing more than a few odd differences in how they do life.  Live there as a long-term resident and you will begin to see the different underlying values behind these odd cultural differences.

For example…

Some cultures value honor, where respect is the prime directive.  Some cultures value community.  The health of the “tribe” is vastly more important than one person.  Individuals in other cultures may see it as noble and honorable to sacrifice time, talent, treasure, and even desired pleasures for the health of the community or honor of the family.

Here in America we have an underlying growing value that stands out like the Dubai Tower. Individualism.

When ESPN celebrated Caitlyn (Bruce) Jenner after undergoing a sex change, the message was clear, laid out for the Western world to see:  Courage is being true to you, whatever that might be, at any cost.

From the pop culture perspective, his courage to follow his heart into this transition was vastly more important than any potential lateral issues that may come because of it.  ENews’s video of Kris (Bruce’s ex-wife) grieving the loss of Bruce as they knew him is really interesting as you watch values collide and individualism painfully win the day.

Someone’s heart is fulfilled for the moment, but another heart becomes broken.

Even in my own personal experience I have seen many people deeply hurt others while trying to follow their own heart.

What about the husband who chooses another lover and leaves behind a devastated spouse and children?  Do I tell the kids and their mom, “Be proud! Your dad followed his heart!”  Or the young adult I counseled with a few years back who basically said, “All I want to do is smoke weed with my friends and live off of welfare.” Should we be proud of him?  I can assure you, he was passionately following his heart. I have so many examples…

Here is what I see.

  • The heart is erratic and inconsistent.
  • The heart is most often driven by appetites, that change.
  • The heart can be really selfish one day and amazingly selfless the next.
  • Hyper-individualism hurts others and ultimately leaves people more lost and lonely.

Remember, most “be true to oneself” actions come with a cost. What, or who, is in the chopped-up wake of you pursuing your heart?  Moreover, the very joy you thought you would achieve often ends up being the doorway to deeper pain. Not only others, but yours.  I believe Jesus is a better guide than your heart.  I also believe Jesus can lead you to a vastly superior joy than you could ever find following your own appetites. Jesus came to seek and save that which is lost. (Luke 19:10) The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

Here is the truth.  Humanity is lost and some of the most lost of our race love to pretend that they know the way all while leading people into more loneliness and darkness.  The Bible literally says that the truest us is found in following the ways of Jesus (John 3:16).  The Bible isn’t a cage to keep you from fun, it is a map that shows you the way to the deepest and truest joys. (Romans 6:23; John 10:10; Revelation 21:4-8)

I say your heart isn’t the best compass, the one who made it is.  I believe your truest joys don’t end up coming from, “What do I want?” but “What does Christ want for me?”

It may be time to try a new, Christ-centered, compass.






Published by

Mike & Leslie Colaw

Husband, father, pastor. I work here www.encountertrinity.com. Wrestle through ideas here www.luke117.com. I don't have all the answers, but I love the journey searching for them!

6 thoughts on “Our hyper-individualism is making everyone miserable.

  1. Thank you,Mike for emphasizing that what you do or say can forever change who you are and who God intended you to be. I just wish we can get more preachers to preach from the pulpit these things.

  2. Hey Mike! Miss you man!
    I have a question. Couldn’t the same be said about evangelicals hyper-uniformity causing people in the church to be miserable? So much so that many are leaving the church? In my experience, the evangelical church leaves little or no wiggle room for an individual who doubts or an individual who may believe differently. (I kinda got kicked out of a church for that…) I’m not saying that every time someone “follows their heart” it’s a good thing to applaud them. I don’t think it’s right to cheat on your spouse or to purposefully be lazy. But I think that a lot of people feel that way whether they are Christian or not.
    I find it difficult to say that someone deciding to live out an aspect of their life that they don’t have any control over is some kind of sin/offense because it causes someone else discomfort or “heart break.” If the heart is so deceitful who is to say that it is actually the miserable person who is “heartbroken” that is being misled?
    I guess I wonder that if “hyper-individualism” is a problem are you proposing that uniformity is its solution?

    1. Man! I miss you all too! To answer your question, I think the answer I am attempting to propose isn’t that we all become the same or submit to the strongest human dictator because it makes life easier for everyone. I am attempting to propose that the Gospel is the answer. Scripture gives freedom and also boundaries. All of these are given to lead us to the greatest end, Heaven. If your desired freedom lines up with scripture, great! If it doesn’t, I propose it may not, in the end, give you the wholeness you think it might. Christ as compass will lead to the truest joys. That’s my thought.

  3. This is so spot-on! I shared on FB. My daughter (Lila) is so wrapped up in identity/labels/individualism. Thanks for this and I can’t wait for Sunday’s sermon!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s