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Chris Carpenter
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How to Wow Your Kids by Chasing Cool

By Chris Carpenter Program Director - Please forgive me for I have been out chasing cool the last few days.  I am not really sure how or what I am chasing but I am making every effort to capture this incredibly elusive whatcha-ma-call-it-thing-a-ma-jiggy.

Before I get too carried away, let me fill you in on the concept of “chasing cool”.  Recently, I had the opportunity to sit in on a meeting with an Internet consultant who was speaking about all the creative ways to engage the younger generation.

“They want to be entertained,” he said, from his desktop perch in Dallas, Texas.  My colleagues and I were watching him on a slide projector screen in a dimly lit office in Virginia.  This is the latest wave in business I am told – the webinar.  I prefer to call it a meeting by telephone with assistance from the A/V department. 

He continued exuberantly, “They want their content at any time, anywhere, and anyplace.  They want to pull from your medium (sounds painful) rather than have you tell them what is good.  In essence, they are on the quest of chasing cool.”

“The quest of chasing cool?” I thought.  What an interesting phrase.  Chasing cool.  And it isn’t ‘a’ quest … it is ‘the’ quest.  If I understood him correctly, the youth of today is on a unified mission to find cool.  How noble.

But here is the problem.  Our hip consultant never defined what “chasing cool” was.

For the remainder of the day I could not shake that phrase from my conscience.  Chasing cool.  Chasing cool!  Chasing cool?  That night, I made a highly critical decision.  For the next three days, I was going to chase cool.  After all, I'm now in my forties.  What a better way to live out the waning moments of middle age than by chasing something I couldn’t physically see, hear, touch, smell, or taste.  Or could I?  It all sounded so philosophical, so liberating, so … exciting.

The next morning, I marched into a colleague’s office and boldly announced, “Today, I am chasing cool!”

“Oh you are, are you?” she said skeptically, not even looking up from her computer.  “And just how do you propose you are going to do that?”

I thought for a moment.  Total blankness.  Nothing was coming to mind.

Before I could answer her questions, my colleague asked a third question, this one the most penetrating of all.

“Do you even know what chasing cool is?”

“Do you?” I fired back coyly.  I saw that in a movie once.  If you don’t know the answer, reply with a question.  It forces the person you are having a conversation with to answer the question for you, thus getting you up to speed on the topic you aren’t so sure about.  A bit deceptive, true, but potentially effective.  Or (they didn’t cover this in the movie) it makes you seem like you are even more in the dark than the other person originally thought.

“Of course I do,” she responded.  “That’s why I am asking you.  You hardly seem the type to be out chasing cool.”

“Why do you ask?” I blindly inquired.

She let out a hearty laugh.  This was not a good sign.

“For starters, you are the ultimate Midwestern dad type.  You know, married, house in the suburbs, children, you drive a mini-van.  Your idea of a good time is to load the family into the mini-van and head to the amusement park on the weekend.  That, my friend is not chasing cool.”

“I can chase cool,” I responded sharply.  “You just watch.”

It was game on.  I was on a mission to not only chase cool but to find it!  Nothing was going to stop me.  If I was anything at the age of 40 something years old, I was certainly relevant.  This aging thirty-something was still hip with the kids … and persistent too.

What was the first thing I did?  I went straight to the mall and bought some new clothes – graphic tee shirts with snarling lions on them, designer jeans, and a pair of shoes that made me look like I was going bowling.

I proudly wore my newfound fabric coolness to work the next day.

“Dressing a bit casual today aren’t we?” suggested one co-worker.

“Just chasing cool,” I answered brightly.

“Are you feeling ok?” asked another.

“Just chasing cool,” I offered, with a tad less enthusiasm.

“What … are … those?” asked a third, pointing at my feet.

“Just chasing cool?” I said tentatively, my confidence quickly transforming into question form.

The confidence in my newfound concept was slowly deflating.  I spent the remainder of the week trying to immerse myself in topics that were slightly out of my comfort zone.  I signed up for a Twitter account. It's kind of creepy. People I don't even know are following me. I forced myself to watch an inordinate amount of video clips on YouTube (old Love Boat clips mostly).  I even downloaded some hip hop music onto a device I got for Christmas called an iPod. (I was longing for Michael W. Smith but fought off the urge). 

But in the end, none of my newfound coolness felt right.  I am a middle aged man trying to get caught up in the trappings of a twenty-something technophile.  In my opinion, social networking is something you do at church suppers or your son’s football game.  Video on demand is when I harass the clerk at my local video store when I can’t find a new release on the shelves.  Text messaging?  There are enough other ways to get arthritis in my fingers than typing on my cell phone.

I am who I am and that person is me -- forty-something years old, wife, child, mini-van, and a penchant for going to the amusement park on weekends.  And you know what?  God doesn’t care if I am chasing cool.  He only cares that I am content and chasing Him.

The Bible has a lot to say about contentment.

In Hebrews 13:5, Paul writes, “… be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you or forsake you.’”

David says in Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

And finally, soak in the words of Jesus from Luke 12:29-31, “And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it.  For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.  But seek His kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”

Chasing cool is desperately searching for the fulfillment of your faith.  It is seeking and finding.  It is the realization that only the Truth will set you free and nothing else.  It is the practice of placing your burdens on Him and lightening the yoke that weighs on your soul.

To chase cool is to chase Christ … and to find Him.

Are you chasing cool?

Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting?
Are you facing a difficult situation?

A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.