Music Discussions

The Joke

the-joke

The Joke – Brandi Carlile

Main Point: If you feel unloved or devalued, the God who delights in you offers His presence and salvation.

Vital Info Before You Get Started:  The following info should help you contextualize this very popular song so you can have a great discussion about it with your kids.

  • IMPORTANT NOTE TO PARENTS: We at The Source for Youth Ministry believe that certain elements in our youth culture can serve as good discussion jump starters with students. At the same time, we would never hope to introduce teens to a negative influence that they haven’t already encountered. This balance is a delicate one. In our experience most teens, churched and unchurched, keep pretty current with music and music videos like this one. Thanks to YouTube, MTV.com, Spotify, and iTunes, the most popular music videos and songs are free to access only a click away. If you decide to use this, do so by catering it to fit your family’s needs.
  • Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, Carlile was raised in the state of Washington and started playing guitar and writing songs when she was fifteen.
  • As she grew, Brandi continued pursuing her career as a singer, performing at local clubs in Seattle. In 2003, twenty-one-year old Brandi was spotted by Dave Matthews when he heard her band performing at a music festival.
  • The next year, she was signed to Columbia Records and released the self-titled album “Brandi Carlile” in 2005. Her sixth studio album was released in February 2018.
  • Carlile continues to live in Washington where she has a dog, a horse, a goat, chickens and a cat. She started her own foundation called Looking Out Foundation which raises funds for various organizations she believes in.

Introducing the Song – Say Something Like This:  Carlile wrote this song with the goal of uplifting people who struggle to fit the molds made for them by modern society. She says, “There are so many people feeling misrepresented [today] … So many people feeling unloved. The song is just for people that feel under-represented, and unloved.” Carlile also says she wrote the song with many groups in mind, which includes people struggling with disabilities, sexuality, shyness, and more.

The Music Video:  The music can be viewed for free at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5r6A2NexF88

Song Lyrics – The Joke

You’re feeling nervous, aren’t you, boy?
With your quiet voice and impeccable style
Don’t ever let them steal your joy
And your gentle ways, to keep ’em from running wild
They can kick dirt in your face
Dress you down, and tell you that your place
Is in the middle, when they hate the way you shine
I see you tugging on your shirt
Trying to hide inside of it and hide how much it hurts

Let ’em laugh while they can
Let ’em spin, let ’em scatter in the wind
I have been to the movies, I’ve seen how it ends
And the joke’s on them

You get discouraged, don’t you, girl?
It’s your brother’s world for a while longer
You gotta dance with the devil on a river
To beat the stream
Call it living the dream, call it kicking the ladder
They come to kick dirt in your face
To call you weak and then displace you
After carrying your baby on your back across the desert
I saw your eyes behind your hair
And you’re looking tired, but you don’t look scared

Let ’em laugh while they can
Let ’em spin, let ’em scatter in the wind
I have been to the movies, I’ve seen how it ends
And the joke’s on them

Let ’em laugh while they can
Let ’em spin, let ’em scatter in the wind
I have been to the movies, I’ve seen how it ends
And the joke’s on them

Three Questions to Ask in the Car (with thoughts to dive deeper with your kids):

Q:  What are some reasons teenagers today might feel unloved or devalued?
A:  The hidden gem of this question is you ask it generally, but their answer will reflect things that cause them personally to feel unloved or devalued.

Q:  Where do teenagers today find love, and where do they go to feel valued?
A:  This is the other side of the question above, and here you learn the go-to things for teenagers to find these things. You can follow it up by asking if the things they go to work for them, do they last?

Q:  The Bible says that God delights in you. What do you think that means?
A:  Engage them with Zephaniah 3:17, and when they answer you can then turn it to them personally and ask what it means for them.

Where to Take It from Here:  Wherever it feels natural. If these questions lead to a longer discussion on the topic, wonderful!  (There is a guide just after that paragraph that helps you do just that.)  If your kids are barely uttering grunts, don’t get discouraged – the next time it feels right, try out another song.  Keep engaging them.

For Deeper Discussion: 
(If your kids seem into diving in deeper and looking at what the Bible has to say on the subject, the following discussion guide can help take you there.)

Want help getting your teenager engaged in conversation? CLICK HERE for a helpful article from our “Parenting Help” page providing you with 3 Essentials to Talking with Today’s Teens.

Transition Statement – Say Something Like This:This song addresses different types of people who feel under-represented and unloved. The message of this song is that it won’t last, because there are better days ahead. Is this the truth? Can everyone be confident that in time they will find the value and love they desire, and what role does God play in these things?

Discussion Questions: 

  1. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Who would consider themselves to be shy? What challenges has that caused you during your life?
  2. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Would anyone share a time when they relate with the lyric that says, “I see you tugging on your shirt trying to hide inside of it and hide how much it hurts”?
  3. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What do you think the message of the chorus of this song is? (the chorus starts with, “Let ’em laugh while they can”). Do you agree with this message? Explain why you think the way you do.
  4. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What do you think she means when she sings, “You get discouraged, don’t you, girl? It’s your brother’s world for a while longer.” Why do you think that could cause her or others to feel devalued?
  5. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What are some reasons people your age can feel devalued or unloved?
  6. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What are things teenagers look to so they can feel loved and valued?
  7. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Is it fair to say that when anyone feels unloved or devalued, that it won’t last? Explain why you think the way you do. Challenge each other on your responses.

Read the following passage:

Zephaniah 3:17
The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.

  1. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Read Zephaniah 3:14-17. What do you think is happening in this passage?
  1. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: The context here is that God has pardoned Israel for some things they had done, and now is offering to bring His presence and salvation. In what ways is this similar to what Jesus has done for you and I?
  1. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What does it mean that the Lord your God is with you? Is He ever not with you? Do you think there’s a difference between God being “everywhere” and God being “with you”?
  1. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: How do you experience the presence of God? What are some things that keep you from experiencing Him more?
  1. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: How do you experience the presence of God? What are some things that keep you from experiencing Him more?
  1. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What does it mean to take delight in something? Explain the implications of God taking great delight in you.
  1. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What are some things that make you sing with joy? What do you think it means that God rejoices over you with singing?
  2. ASK ALL FAMILY MEMBERS: Let’s change the “you” to “me” in this verse and read it out loud. Let’s have everyone take a turn on this. Let’s have a few people share what stands out about this exercise.

Wrap Up – Say Something Like This:  This song makes the point that those who feel unloved or devalued can be confident that this season will not last. Eventually the joke will be on those who are causing you to feel this way. During our time, we talked about some of the causes of feeling this way as well as how you can respond when you deal with these things. We talked about whether or not anyone can feel confident that feeling unloved and devalued will be temporary. For the follower of Jesus, there is a confidence of God’s presence and fight (Mighty Warrior style!) when we endure these difficulties. Take a moment and talk to God about ways you can become more aware of His presence. Make a decision on a couple things you could do daily that would help you connect with God in a deeper way. 

(Pause and give them a quiet moment to pray silently.) 

The verse we looked at in Zephaniah shows that God is with you, which means He is for you. He takes delight in you which means He finds joy in you as you are. In fact, He finds so much joy in you that He sings as an expression of that joy. God has chosen to bring salvation to those who will trust Him, and as a result you can hold onto the incredible truth of Zephaniah 3:17. If you have not chosen to trust God with your life, perhaps you might want to talk to Him about that now. If you’ve made that decision, take a few moments and reflect the words of Zephaniah 3:17 back to Him in prayer. Talk with Him about what those truths mean to you. 

(Pause and give them a few moments to pray silently.)

You are valued because God has made you in His image. He knows you and He delights in you. You are loved because God has chosen to invite you into His presence – and God is the very definition of love. Experiencing God is experiencing His love. The more you choose to experience God’s presence, the more you will see the things that cause you to feel devalued and unloved for what they are – lies that are not worthy of your time. When you are feeling this way, choose to remember the truth of Zephaniah 3:17, that the God who delights in you offers His presence and salvation. Hold onto this truth and know that you are loved.

CLOSE IN PRAYER 

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Rob Chagdes

Rob Chagdes

Rob Chagdes is one of the pastors at Prairie Lakes Church in northern Iowa. In the years since he met Jesus as a sixteen year old, Rob has spent his life working to raise up the next generation to love God and invite others into His unending story. He spends most of his free time with his wife Leslie, their three amazing daughters, and their energetic dog Jedi. You can reach Rob at chagdeswrites@gmail.com

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