An Aversion to Making Disciples?

The other day my wife and I attended the awards ceremony for first grade students at our daughter’s elementary school.  Our daughter did receive an award as well as several other certificates of recognition.

I noticed that every student received at least one certificate of recognition.  On one hand, that seems to be a good thing as it is a positive reenforcement of good behaviors and values as well as a self-esteem.  On the other hand, when every child must be recognized for something – just like when every little league team, rather than just the league champions, must receive some award – it seems to create an unreal self-perception that can (though not necessarily) cultivate a sense of narcissism, entitlement, and over-inflated confidence.

Perhaps you’re thinking, “What’s the big deal?”  But could our need to make a winner out of every child be an aversion to making disciples of our children?  David Kinnaman writes:

If you already know all there is to know, if you’ve been told your entire life that you’re “just right” exactly the way you are, if the main job or the god you believe in is to make you feel good about yourself (because you’re entitled to great self-esteem, along with everything else), then there are not a lot of compelling reasons to sit in the dirt at the feet of Jesus and live the humble life of a disciple.*

What do you think?

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* David Kinnaman, You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church… And Rethinking Faith (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2011), 118.

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7 responses to “An Aversion to Making Disciples?

  1. agreed.

  2. Our worth is extrinsic to ourselves- it is that we are made in the image of God. We are not called to self-esteem, which is basking in our intrinsic worth, but to give glory to God from who any worth we have is derived. It is hard to feel self-esteem when we are really in the presence of God within our hearts; it is clear then that apart from his continuing enabling grace, we fall into idolatries, pride, unbelief, and a host of inner sins that lead to the outer. Further, when we have some experience in the inner practice of the Presence, we know that sending our attentions out into feel-good feelings about ourself or our accomplishments, leads to a quick dissipation of grace, and as pride goes before a destruction, so we will find us banging our noses or our shins or falling into some pit to call us back to humility.
    The studies in California discovered that enhanced self-esteem was correlated with an increase of criminality. We are called to deny self; to self forgetfulness; to set our affections on things above, not below, which includes our ‘self’. The language of self-esteem comes from and elicits an anthropology critically deficient and hostile to that of the Christian.

  3. http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/2012/06/05/the-true-self-and-the-story-of-me/ in this awesome blog by Fr. Stephen he shows how the self-esteem stories we script inwardly are hostile to the life of the heart

  4. …here is an excerpt…
    Fr. Meletios Webber, using this same understanding of the heart, states:

    The heart is quiet rather than noisy, intuitive rather than deductive, lives entirely in the present, and is, at every moment, accepting of the reality God gives in that moment. Moreover, the heart does not seek to distance or dominate anything or anyone by labeling…. It knows no fear, experiences no desire, and never finds the need to defend or justify itself. Unlike the mind, the heart never seeks to impose itself. It is patient and undemanding. (From Bread & Water, Wine & Oil).

    This seat of the self is not a narrative construct. Being entirely in the present, it is decidedly not a construct of anything. It is not our self-image. It is not our projection of desires or fears. It is not in danger or need such that it needs defending. It is the true givenness of our existence (given by God) and is therefore not in need of our self-definition. It is not the product of our intelligence or our choice. It is not generated by our nationality, genetics or social position. In short, it is not any of the things that we use to construct the illusion of the ego.

  5. http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles6/MorelliSelfEsteem.php
    …much more sound thinking that my shots from the hip!

  6. I don’t support giving every kid an award — because the kids see through it. They get it that if everybody gets an award, nobody really got one. The awards are meaningless.

    However, your underlying point is correct. But I don’t think we need to diminish anybody before we bring them to Christ. Our own self-comparison to Christ is plenty for us to realize we are sitting in the dirt.

    • You’re are right about not needing to diminish children first and though I agree with Kinnaman, my concern is also with not diminishing a child either (I say that as one who struggled in school as a child and had a teacher who wanted to make an example out of me, which I despised).

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