Book Review: Get Outta My Face, by Rick Horne
It's an age-old problem: teenagers who are rebellious, angry, unmotivated, acting out, and in desperate need of the truth; but when anyone confronts them with the truth, they will not listen. They see the parent or counselor as hypocritical, judgmental, disconnected, totally unable to understand them or their problems. It's as if they are speaking different languages. How can a parent or counselor get beyond this impasse, and speak to teenagers in a way that will command their respect and willingness to listen to what they have to say? In Get Outta My Face, Rick Horne addresses this question with a good dose of common sense, practical wisdom, and the insight that comes from years of experience.
According to Horne, there are solid biblical teachings which address not just what to say to the rebellious teen, but how to say it. How to adorn the truth and make it appealing and persuasive. In his book, he deals not so much with the what, but the how: how can you build a bridge of communication to your troubled teen, so that, when the time is right to speak of eternal, spiritual wisdom, you will already have established a relationship conducive to fruitful discussion? Throughout the heart of the book, he deals in practical terms with the vast benefits of listening carefully, intentionally and affirmatively, clarifying the underlying wants beneath the teenager's actions, looking for solutions that will be more effective in attaining those fundamental wants, and helping to develop small, manageable plans for reaching out to those goals. This whole process, Horne would argue, is capitalizing on the â€œwise wantsâ€ that God by his common grace has instilled in every human created in his image; just as the book of Proverbs advises many courses of action by appealing to desires common to all humankind, so we may and should capitalize on those same desires when dealing with rebellious teens. However, that whole process is simply building a bridge, so that, eventually, we might have an open door of communication to share the gospel.
Although there is much good, practical wisdom in this book, a couple of caveats are in order: first, it is essential to realize from the start that this is not so much a book on what to say as it is on how to say it. If you are not at the point where you can lay out a rigorous biblical support of the gospel of Christ and show how it addresses every aspect of life, this is perhaps not the book for you; or if it is, then only in connection with another book on the gospel, which alone can change the heart, whether a teenager's or anyone else's.
Second, although Horne uses scripture passages and principles, I am not convinced that he demonstrates a compelling exegesis everywhere, nor that he supports all of his practical propositions with scripture at all. A couple instances of the former: his brief discussion of Proverbs 9:10 does not adequately account for why Solomon calls the fear of the Lord the â€œbeginningâ€ of wisdom, and not just its ultimate goal (page 35); and his identification of the Servant of the Lord, who would be given as a â€œcovenant of the peopleâ€ (Isaiah 42:1-8) as the people themselves (page 57) is dismayingly less Christ-centered than the New Testament authors who quoted this passage would have been. As a case of the latter, his oft-repeated contention that we should be overwhelmingly affirmative of our teens' achievements, encouraging them that, if they made wise choices in the past, then they can do so now if they only want to, is given without clear scriptural support. If this whole process is indeed building a bridge of communications so that the gospel might later be given without relational snags, I wonder how a history of praising the power of the teen's freedom to choose the good might affect the later foundational tenet of the gospel that, when it comes to doing what is truly pleasing to God, we are bound in sin, and our will is not free to choose him, believe the gospel, or do what is really acceptable in his sight.
In conclusion, I would emphasize two things: first, read this book with much discernment. Take to it a rigorous knowledge of the gospel, and be willing to examine the scripture passages brought into play with a careful exegesis. But second, do read this book. If you read discerningly, it will contain some very eye-opening and vastly beneficial pieces of practical wisdom, which just may place your relationship with your teen, and your ability to discuss things with him, on an entirely new footing.
Available at Monergism Books.