The Apple Of God's Eye

May 24, 2011

Generation Me: A Grandiose Failure

olivebites.blogspot.com

One of the main reasons I and my wife have decided to take our children out of public school is the alarming failure of character growth. Instead of teaching that life throws curve balls and they need to get up, dust themselves off and try again, they’re taught that everyone is special, no one is better than another and superiority does not exist.

As I see it, the public schooling system is now shrouded in a bubble of nonsensical myths, namely:

  1. High expectations damage self-esteem
  2. Evaluation and discipline are punitive, stressful and damaging to self-esteem
  3. Effort is more important than achievement
  4. It is the teacher’s, not the student’s, responsibility to ensure learning.

As a result of discouraging honest evaluation, overcoming and excellence, our educational system is turning out ranks of narcissists with grotesquely overblown self-esteem, zero motivation, and the logically and mathematically impossible view that, no matter what they actually do, they are always and in every way above average. Everything within our educational system has been carpeted with the dense foliage of positive self-talk, non-judgementalism, and general sunny thinking.

Further, the self-esteem movement has convinced us that those who engage in unacceptable behavior should never be corrected, disciplined, punished or otherwise restrained. Instead, they should be made to feel good about themselves, which will make them stop engaging in those actions, the thinking goes.

What we end up with is a schooling system that is an international embarrassment. We can’t add, subtract, divide, or multiply…forget about doing calculus! We can’t spell, we can’t even write our native language properly. Yet, we’re given awards for success; not one or two children, but the entire class. No child is left behind.

And so what we are witnessing in schools today is the emphasis on self-esteem as a chief virtue, divorced from achievement or even effort. Children are sheltered from the sting of failure—and therefore trapped in a fantasy world where bad behavior, lazy attitudes and poor achievement have no negative consequences. They live in an environment which teaches that praise is not just the best, but in fact the only, motivator for them. So rather than simply saying “You did good” when a child does something right, they’re told, “Wow—you’re really smart!”

All this leads to is pride and promotion of self, the glorification of narcissism. We are witnessing an ugly, unkempt, self-indulgent and demanding generation of greatly ballooned egos leading directly to narcissis, detachment from community, rejection of absolute truth, and cynicism. Yet few see the  direct correlation with the dumbing down of curricula, grade inflation, loss of motivation, an unmerited sense of entitlement and the ridiculing of critical thinking skills.

Now a lot of people reading this will want to educate me on the barbarism of my words. That’s fine – I hear what you’re saying, but, I just don’t happen to agree with you. Losing is a part of life. It may not be the most joyous occasion, but it’s the truth.

False Self-Esteem

Children do grow up and perform best in a positive environment—that is an enduring truth. A withering climate of criticism can destroy a child’s confidence and we want our children to be confident, well-adjusted and happy. But overpraise is not the way to get them there.

Let’s face it: High self-esteem is overrated. Repeated studies have proven that over-inflated self-worth doesn’t improve a child’s grades, strengthen relationships, avoid self-destructive behavior or translate into success later on in life. In fact, it can prove to be more of a hindrance in these areas, because a child raised on the notion that he is fantastic just as he is has little motivation to improve.

The other problem is that few want to be around adults who live in such self-delusion. Perhaps a child can pull off this trick around other children, but with adults, it is an alienating experience to witness someone convicted of being more popular, more capable, more loved, than is really the case.

That same high opinion, with no link to personal achievement, generally leads to crushing shocks when reality finally comes knocking. Praise is hard to come by in the brutal reality of life’s arena. Having long been shielded from small failures, the adult now finds sudden, big failures overwhelming.

A 2007 San Diego University report titled “Egos Inflating Over Time,” warned that the self-indulgent child-rearing techniques used today have led to an inability to satisfactorily adapt as contributing members of a stable society. In fact, the report indicated that this generation presents an unattractive proposition in terms of their employability within the society that has raised them.

How to properly raise children

Praise for children is not wrong, of course. We should think on what is praiseworthy and commendable (e.g. Philippians 4:8). But empty, indiscriminate praise means little. Children should receive sincere, specific praise when appropriate, which also lends itself more to giving gentle guidance on how to improve the next time. Handled correctly and lovingly, constructive criticism will not be harmful to children. In fact, it is one of life’s greatest gifts and helps them to see reality, serving as an aid to personal growth.

Strength that comes from experiencing weaknesses and teaching our children to see their inadequacies is very biblical. As Jesus Christ told us, “Without me ye can do nothing”—clearly the opposite of self-worth. The reality is this: Children must strive as they grow. They have a lot to learn and that knowledge must be practical and applicable to real life. And in the end, our children will need to recognize, deep in their heart, that, like all human beings, they must rely on God first, not their teacher, for proper guidance. 

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February 7, 2011

The Mark of A Great Mind

The Plain Truth, October 1983

Do you know what the mark of greatness is?

Who hasn’t been insulted at some time? Or threatened or falsely accused?

Perhaps we experience situations where individuals are rude or abusive to us, lacking tact or consideration in what they say or do. Perhaps on crowded roads or highways inconsiderate persons suddenly swerve in front of us.

How do we respond to such irritating situations?

Many respond with an impulsive burst of rage or anger: “He can’t do that to me! I’ll show him … !” Then suddenly, a nasty verbal exchange, or worse, a serious accident or injury is generated.

The news media are filled with accounts of human tragedy caused by lack of emotional control under unpleasant situations. Many family and personal problems, costly work mishaps and even senseless killings result.

Harmful Emotional Habits

All of us from time to time face the need to learn control of our emotions under difficult circumstances. Such control is the mark of a great mind.

The Bible repeatedly admonishes us to be slow to anger. “A man of quick temper acts foolishly, but a man of discretion is patient.” “He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.” “He who rules his spirit [is better] than he who takes a city” (Prov. 14:17, 29; 16:32, RSV).

Slow to anger? Patient and controlling thoughts and emotions under duress? How do we achieve these qualities of character? What values, understanding and attitudes produce them?

The Bible reveals there is a right time and place for anger (Eph. 4:26). But how do we control our temper when confronted with someone’s insults or rudeness or lack of consideration? How can we control emotions under trying personal difficulties so we don’t descend into the pit of resentment, bitterness or depression’?

What we need is the right spiritual perspective, attitude and power of mind! What we need is a positive and loving perspective about today’s confused world and the people in it. We need a right perspective about personal problems and difficulties that will enable us to cope with them in a beneficial way. (more…)

November 30, 2009

The Emotional Perfection Of Jesus Christ

mysteryshrink.com

Emotion is sometimes looked upon as being a negative experience, but in reality this is only because some have not grown up emotionally. This is especially so in mainstream religion, which promulgates emotional fervor as the basis of legitimate religious experiences.  In that sense, God becomes a nebulous sentiment and repentance a hazy feeling. Yet neither Jesus Christ nor His disciples ever set such an example.

Jesus Christ was not some overly sentimental preacher, nor was He emotionally detached, in a catatonic state of nirvana like high. If you study your Bible, you will see He was always in complete emotional control, yet he was able to show emotion at the right time and for the right reasons, setting us an appropriate and perfect  display of emotional maturity. He showed that emotion can be a valid part of religion, if expressed properly.

Here are some examples:

  1. He was filled with deep emotion as He looked out over Jerusalem, whose deceived and erring people He loved (Matt. 23:37). He cried out for Jerusalem in an intelligent expression of feeling. In Luke 19, He beheld the city and wept over it (verse 41).
  2. He was also moved with compassion for the multitudes that followed Him in Matt. 9:36. Jesus Christ desired to send the Good News to these spiritually bankrupt people and he lamented the lack of labourers for the plentiful harvest (verse 37). He saw the potential if there were only more labourers.
  3. In Mark 6, when He was about to get away for some much needed rest, the multitudes kept following. Christ reacted emotionally to this, but in an outflowing and serving way.  He was moved a their religious poverty and desired to teach them, as well as feed them because they were hungry (verses 31-34). See also Matt. 15:30-32.
  4. Christ sighed with feeling as He healed a deaf man in Mark 7:31-34. “Sighed”is the same term as used in Rom. 8:23, where God’s people groan within themselves. Seeing someone in need just moved Him too much to stand idly by.
  5. Even when confronted with antagonistic Pharisees, Jesus Christ did not react with anger, but sighed deeply within Himself for their lack of faith in seeking a sign (Mark 8:12). Although He was angry at what the Pharisees were doing to people’s religion, He perfectly controlled and expressed His emotions, using them to serve the work of God.
  6. The image of a soft spoken Christ is also false, as “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried [aloud] saying, ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink'” (John 7:37). This shows He was a powerful and dynamic speaker.
  7. When Christ found men selling in the temple and exchanging money, He deliberately made a small scourge and drove them all out of the temple, overthrowing the tables (John 2:13-14). Rather than being a violent tantrum, this was an expression of righteous indignation and zeal (root – boiling over), as expressed in verse 17. The zeal of God’s house and the vision of God’s plan for all mankind was all consuming for Jesus Christ.
  8. When the disciples rebuked those who brought children to Christ in Mark 10, it says He was much displeased. But this wording does not do justice to Christ’s emotions. In the original Greek, it means ” moved with indignation.” He was passionate even about the little children.
  9. Christ groaned in the spirit and was troubled (visibly moved, perhaps in controlled anger) at the lack of faith the Jews expressed after Lazarus died. ” Troubled”  here is the same word as used on the night of His last Passover when He was betrayed and ultimately crucified. Jesus wept (shed tears) over this lack of faith in verse 35.
  10. At Christ’s last Passover, He was also full of emotion and  a desire (craving or longing) to celebrate this Passover with His disciples. Even though He was about to die, He spoke of being joyful (deep godly joy – John 15:11), showing a deep motivation for the work of God behind His feelings.
  11. The final emotional struggle for Christ came when He was near the end of His physical life. He began to react to the gravity of what was about to befall Him, becoming ” very heavy,” (Mark 14:33). Jesus Christ being human, still had to fight His own feelings and was probably terrified. The Greek (Thayers) implies that the phrase “very heavy” is the strongest of three Greek words…in the New Testament for depression.” That is why He was exceedingly sorrowful unto death in verse 34 and ” full of heaviness” (Ps. 69:20). These were not wrong emotions because Christ did not act only on them.  He re-focused on His Father’s will through prayer so fervent, it caused Him to sweat blood (Mark 14:35). He would not allow these emotions to become sinful, which is why Hebrews 12:4 says it was a prayer of ” striving against sin.” He did not allow emotions to control Him.

So we can see that it can be supremely masculine to show proper emotion. He did not allow these emotions because of persecution against Him, or personal suffering, but the anguish of seeing those He loved reject the truth and turn the wrong way. This is at the heart of emotional maturity – the state of development from taking to the state of giving. Christ’s emotions always demonstrated the ” give”  way. This requires control and right direction of feelings, tempers, impulses.

God’s law should always guide us in the right direction because it is the way of love towards Him first, above ourselves, and then to others, equal with love for self.

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