Back in the day, parents told children things like, “Don’t get too big for your britches.”
A generation later, my generation came along and fretted about our children’s self-esteem. Lots of decisions were made, some of them solid improvements on parenting and others seem to be proving themselves to be not so great. I heard a story recently where high schools were deciding that the Valedictorian for each class was not the student with the highest GPA, but any student who achieved a particular GPA. Some of these high schools had ten or more Valedictorians! Ok, that’s ridiculous. Who wants to listen to all those speeches?
I believe that scripture helps us find a sweet spot of truth-telling that is amazing, if noticed. In the scriptures that Scott used yesterday (Romans 8:5-11), Paul differentiated between selfishness and unselfishness, tying it to self-centered versus unselfish living. Now look, we all know that each of us has moments when we are self-centered. (Hence the many warnings from previous generations about behaving better and keeping your ego in check.) But we also know, if we think about this a bit, that sometimes when we are at our apparently most “self-centered” that there is a whole lot more going on than just being a selfish little so-and-so. If we feel unsafe, abandoned, afraid, depressed, frustrated without resources or skills to manage that emotional landscape, then we might indeed try to fix our own problems in a self-focused way. (Hence, I suspect, why my generation tried to encourage our children to have a healthy sense of self, i.e. self-respect not just big egos. Of course, we also may have missed the mark a bit in our corrective measures!)
Here’s what I love about the scriptures.
But you aren’t self-centered. Instead you are in the Spirit, if in fact God’s Spirit lives in you. Romans 8
Paul teaches us that when we are led by God’s Spirit, we’ve got resources and an advocate that is better equipped to help us sort out our issues of self-esteem and self-respect. He indicates that we do not have to fear being self-centered, because when dancing with the Spirit, we will be taught how to follow. I love that, I really do. I have had many teachers show up in my life in various forms that have set aside all conversation that deals with what I must DO and instead, showed me how to BE a person of faith. I love that about how God works. You are not self-centered; you are in the Spirit. Follow that thought where it might lead you today!