Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Winners & Worth

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Timestamp: 2009-02-04 18:46:28 UTC

Congrats to Sara and taterbug, winners of the Lynn Eib book When God & Grief Meet! Email me your addresses ladies and I'll send the book your way!

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I've been pondering much these past few days, andI've been having a hard time finding time to get it organized and written down. My sister flew in from South America late Monday night for her 4-month furlough stateside assignment, and there's much to do to get her situated and settled. And of course we had to play a game of Scrabble yesterday! (I won!)

The delicate balance between self-esteem and self-loathing has been on my mind. As I ponder further, it occurs to me the common thread in both of those terms is SELF. Focus on me, me, me.

Interesting how you find much about humility in the Bible but nothing about self-esteem!

I googled "self-esteem" and got over 22 million results. "Humility" only brought up 13 million.

And then I read this yesterday at Lisa Writes:

Pondering...brokenness as I prepare for Bible study tomorrow. Thinking specifically of James 4:8-10 and agreeing with Nancy Leigh Demoss in her assertion that this is a message we are not eager to hear. As she states, "most of us don't walk into a Christian bookstore and say, 'Can you help me find a book on how to mourn and weep?' We want to know how to be happy and whole, how to improve our self esteem, how to feel better about ourselves." But God's Word is clear that we must humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift us up. The hard part of humility is that it is often humiliating. But in humility we discover the greater portion of His presence and His power. It's not fun, but it's worth it...

But what really has had my mind whirling is how we raise our kids. I had a talk with a friend the other day who leads a weekly youth group. In a discussion with her group, all of whom are well-taught, grew-up-in-the-church, believing & baptized teens, the topic turned toward "good people" and "bad people." As she reminded them that none of us are "good" without Christ, they were horrified. The tendency toward believing "people are inherently good" and "I'm okay, you're okay" and "build your child's self-esteem" has resulted in even (especially?) those raised in the church thinking they are fine and dandy. One teen said "you're not making me feel very good." (Please understand that this woman is a godly and kind woman who was teaching them, not ripping them to shreds!) "So why do we need Jesus if we're so good?" she asked.

It's great to love our kids. And tell them they're special. And nothing makes me feel more special than knowing "while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." But somehow, kids today -- who have their every move photographed and videotaped from the time they take their first breath and who are praised for every single thing they do whether it is praise-worthy or not -- are getting a distorted humanistic and worldly picture of themselves. In our efforts to pull the pendulum back from the "sinners in the hands of an angry God" and "hellfire and brimstone" teaching and to avoid "scaring kids into heaven", we have swung too far the other way and somehow taught them that they are so wonderfully perfect just like they are that they see heaven as just another elite acquisition and pie-in-the-sky for those who have their act together.

I read a quote recently by Dietrich Bonhoffer that said "Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance." That struck a chord with me, and I'm thinking we need to evaluate what we're teaching if our kids don't think their lives are such that repentance might be required.

I'm not suggesting we castigate our kids and tell them how horrid they are. The Bible does urge us to encourage one another and build each other up. We just need to do that without ignoring the basic truth that "there is no one righteous, not even one."

Help me out here - are any of you experiencing this same tension? How do you find the balance? Have a "good or bad" conversation with your teen and see what they think!


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Xandra@Heart-of-Service said...

"...we have swung too far the other way and somehow taught them that they are so wonderfully perfect just like they are that they see heaven as just another elite acquisition and pie-in-the-sky for those who have their act together."

This was a great insight, and very well put. We do our children (and fellow believers) a great disservice when we present the gospel this way. Awesome topic!


Anonymous said...

Amen sister! A hundred times over! My kids are still little, but it's something that's in the forefront of my mind every time we encourage and praise them. We don't have a video camera and I think that's part of the reason why.

We had this very discussion last night at a committee meeting at church, in discussing how to revamp the Sunday school and confirmation programs and why. I wish I could say we came up with something brilliant and insightful. We didn't. All we really determined was that those programs are little more than glorified babysitting for parents who want a break from their kids and don't see the value in getting them relevant and significant church education. It's depressing, really. We've decided that we'll ultimately have to buck the culture, but it may just mean we have more people leave in annoyance than take the issue seriously. Sigh.....

Unknown said...

John Rosemond (parenting guru) says self-esteem is esteeming SELF, when we should be esteeming God. We should have high God esteem, and a healthy self image. Image, as to look at our selves and see the truth.

Great words today.

sara said...

first off...yea! I can't believe I won another one of your books!!! I must have great mojo with you! ha!

Do you still have my address?

Second, this was a GREAT post. It is hard to raise christian teens today in a world that says "you didn't mess up, you did the best you could at the time". So many kids are not held accountable for their actions today that they have no sense of guilt. It's hard as parents because I have even been criticized for drawing a bold line with my teens. I have had other parents tell me I am too hard on them, when in reality I am teaching them to be responsible for their actions.

Mel said...

this is a tough one for me because of scars from growing up where being torn down was deemed ok, with my older kids I swung way to far the other, my younger two i have more of a balance.

I do believe we need to let kids know the truth about the world, heaven and hell and how we are to conduct ourselves, i also believe we need to do it in a way that lets them know their worth lies in God, i believe that message has gotten lost.

Again i have no super words on this but I have caught myself being way to critical of my children and then way to soft.

Mel said...

i also forgot CONGRATS Sara and Taterbug!!!!

Lisa Spence said...

Great thoughts here. Truly it's a fine line between thinking too highly of ourselves and hating ourselves. However, both are self preoccupation and both are pride. Just this morning in Bible study we were talking about how our culture, even our "Christian" culture, is obsessed with feeling good. The truth of the Bible is that I have no worth in myself. Zero. Yet because of His great love for me my Lord has made me alive in Christ even though I was dead in my sin. That's grace, amazing grace!

Renee Swope said...

I am trying to grasp that balance between not being worthy of His love but being worth every ounce of His love!!! I have worth to HIM - proven by His death on the cross. I think the difference is finding our worth in God's eyes verses being esteemed in people's eyes. It's not self-worth that we need, it's God-worth!

Much to ponder my friend. You always leave me thinking!

Thanks for being such an encouragement to me on my blog. I read all your comments and smile every time.


A Stone Gatherer said...

WOW great post Linda! WOW! WOW! So true! This has got me thinking about so much! Thanks!

2nd Cup of Coffee said...

Yes, yes and yes. It's the "every kid gets a trophy on the T-Ball team" syndrome.

I think one of the biggest obstacles in reaching people for Jesus is their lack of a perceived need for him. Most people believe they are basically good, at least better than a lot of others they can point to. That thinking is a direct result of overreaching the goal of a healthy, truthful view of self which we have cultivated in our kids who are now adults. I liked how Renee put it about worthy and worth.

And why not "furlough?"

Carrie @ Cottage Cozy said...

Once again, Linda, thank you for your thoughtful words. You really inspire me to seek God's answers for these challenging issues.

I am having a giveaway too...stop by and visit!

Stay Cozy, Carrie