I love reading in Dallas Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy. I read it over and over. Lately I have been pondering and sharing his insights on pushing pearls (Matthew 7:6) (Pages 228-230). Growing up I most often heard this verse interpreted that we don’t waste our time sharing–pushing pearls–with some people because they won’t listen and are somehow unworthy, even bad—they are pigs. Willard gives a different slant on why we don’t cast our pearls before swine.
Pigs cannot ingest or nourish themselves with pearls and when we bombard or push family and friends to listen to some new insight we’ve received, we become pearl pushers. As I’ve been leading parents of teens in my Joy Groups, I’ve been encouraging them to grow their own joy, character, and maturity before trying to share new things they are learning with their teens or young adults. All of us would benefit from ending ways we try to fix others.
Pushing pearls on teenagers is a sure way to fail.
Willard speaks first about ‘’condemnation engineering”’ as a common means to try to fix others through correction, nagging, and condemnation. Then he speaks to pushing pearls, our bent to rush out and share our wonderful treasures with someone who is not ready or able to listen. It’s easy to see that condemnation pushes others away, but trying to help, teach, or share our treasured holy things is not helpful? Willard says it’s not. And pushing pearls on teenagers is a sure way to fail. When we are pearl pushers we become their problem.
Trying to control results in counterattacks.
Because I see this concept as so important for relationships, I want to quote Willard here:
“What a picture we see of (pigs trying to eat pearls) our efforts to correct and control others by pouring our good things, often truly precious things, upon them—things that they nevertheless simply cannot ingest and use to nourish themselves. Often we do not even listen to them. We “know”without listening. Jesus saw it all around as we do today. The outcome is usually the same as with the pigs. Our good intentions make little difference. The needy person will finally become angry and attack us. The point is not the waste of the pearl but that the person given the pearl is not helped. . . .
The counterattack is the number one cause of alienation between the generations. Our children and others do not know what else to do with “pearl pushers” and our stubborn blindness. . . . Our pearls often are offered with a certain superiority of bearing that keeps us from paying attention to those we are trying to help.” (Page 229)
Before pushing pearls, have them real in our own lives.
May we parents, grandparents, and friends take a look at how and when we are trying to fix others. Teens especially dislike condemnation, control, and pearl pushing. If we truly want to help our children and teens, that happens best by what we model before them. We can allow Jesus to show us our own attitudes, behaviors, and motives so that He can mature us. We can learn to relate in joy instead of fear as we let go and stop trying to control. The serpent and the dove tell us when and how in Matthew 10:16. The serpent is timely and the dove is gentle. After the pearls are experiential and real in our lives, we can trust Jesus to show us when and how to share those pearls.
For more tips on parenting teens see Joy-Filled Parenting with Teens .