I once saw two different posters depicting runners. One pictured a man confidently running down a sandy beach with the caption,
Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough.
Now compare this to the second poster I saw. It depicts a runner sitting on a bench in obvious despair, with his head in his hands. The caption reads:
Failure–When your best just isn’t good enough.
On the face of it, these two posters seem at opposite ends of the contemporary focus on self-esteem: high self-esteem vs. low self-esteem. But as strange as it may seem, they are really just two sides of the same coin, because they both have a common focus: SELF. Just as high self-esteem is dressed-up pride, low self-esteem is dressed-up despair.
What’s the point of bringing this up? Because this same kind of self-esteem emphasis may subtlety creep into our children’s ministry. And so often, secular educational philosophy tends to push us in the direction of encouraging higher self-esteem as we teach and interact with children. To that end, important biblical truths become skewed as they put the emphasis in the wrong place…
God loves ME. God made ME special. God hears ME when I pray. God takes care of ME.
So what’s the solution to this skewed emphasis? Would the goal be to make children feel insignificant and worthless? Here is a quote I have posted before, but it bears repeating and pondering again:
Our aim is not to take a child’s low views of self and replace them with high views of self. Rather our aim is to take a child’s low views of God and replace them with high views of God.
Our aim is not to take a child with little sense of worth and fill him with a great sense of worth.
Rather our aim is to take a child who by nature makes himself the center of the universe and show him that he was made to put God at the center of the universe and get joy not from seeing his own tiny worth, but from knowing Christ who is of infinite worth.
(from John Piper’s sermon, “Predestined for Adoption to the Praise of His Glory,” ©2015 Desiring God Foundation, desiringGod.org)
(Image courtesy of puttsk at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)