Raising Children in a Success Obsessed World

High school graduation is a wonderful high point in a teen’s life. Even after 22 years of teaching, I am always amazed at the transformation four years brings in the life of my students. But this year, as I watched them cross that stage, I was both impressed and bothered. Looking for Success in all the Wrong Places After the valedictorians gave their speeches, and those who were given the highest awards were announced, the students were then announced in this manner, “Sally Johnson, graduating with high honors. Graduating with honors, Joseph Brown….” As I listened to their familiar names, I started to question how we as a culture measure success. According to this ceremony, success is based on grades and advanced classes. But what of that student who is the first to graduate in his family?  The one who persevered despite homelessness, lack of home support, substance abuse, financial strain, or family obligations? What about those who overcame obstacles of disabilities, whether it be physical, mental, or academic? Indeed, our culture’s definition of success seems narrow and is far different from how the Bible views success. Our culture pursues being the best. And parents ready their children to be the best at a young age. Children attend expensive preschools to prepare them for the highest rated elementary schools. They often participate in multiple extra-curricular activities a week, attend exclusive camps, have specialized tutors—all to rise above the rest and be considered “a success.” The rise of social media only fuels this drive for success as parents share all their children’s accomplishments online for the all world to see. Success in the Bible But despite this “look-at-me” world, God has a different view of success. In 1 Samuel, God sends Samuel to anoint Israel’s next king. He tells Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance . . For the Lord sees not as a man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7)...

Raising Children in a Success Obsessed World2022-05-05T00:25:24+00:00

Toward a Bigger View of Community

Years ago, a friend of mine was convinced that air conditioning was destroying the fabric of American community in the south. I thought he was over-reaching and I pushed back against his claim. But he noted that before air conditioning, at the end of the day, people were forced to spend their evenings taking walks or sitting on their front porches. The heat festering in the house simply drove them outside. They couldn’t avoid their neighbors. Today, many of us drive home, pull into our garages and close the automatic door behind us, hoping to only engage with the people with whom we cohabitate. Maybe my friend’s theory about AC wasn’t that over-reaching. Selfish Community We like our space, our TV shows (I mean, I live alone and have three TVs…why?), and our agenda. But, what’s so wrong with all of that? I think the bigger question is: what does our obsession “having it our way” cost us? Stephen M. Lukes wrote, “Individualism can be described in terms of a kind of moderate selfishness that disposes humans to be concerned only with their own small circle of family and friends.” That definition stands in stark contrast to Philippians 2’s mandate to count others more significant than ourselves (2:3-4). Like you, I imagine, my love has a pecking order. It’s a fact that I love my close friends and family members more than a complete stranger. I’d rather be given a short list of people that I’m required to love and build into, than an open expectation that I’m supposed to die to my own agenda and show mercy to virtually anyone who crosses my path...

Toward a Bigger View of Community2022-05-05T00:58:58+00:00
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