The Apostle Paul wrote, “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” (Rom. 12:3) It’s refreshing these days to meet young people who are intelligent and talented while being humble: who are friendly and engaging without an ulterior motive. But according to a new study of more than 16,000 college students, our society has created a self-centered generation that is unprepared to have lasting and fulfilling relationships.

“College students think they are so special”, is an AP article dated Feb. 27, 2007 which talks about the rising narcissism among college students. “Today’s college students are more narcissistic and self-centered than their predecessors, according to a comprehensive new study by five psychologists who worry that the trend could be harmful to personal relationships and American society.” The young people feel really good about themselves. But while the narcissism might mean increased confidence in meeting people and doing new things, it is not healthy for relationships and it is not good for society. W. Keith Campbell, one of the researchers, said, “Unfortunately, narcissism can also have very negative consequences for society, including the breakdown of close relationships with others,” And “narcissists ‘are more likely to have romantic relationships that are short-lived, at risk for infidelity, lack emotional warmth, and to exhibit game-playing, dishonesty, and over-controlling and violent behaviors.'” The research doesn’t pain a pretty picture, but I’m sure if you ask the college students they will think the problem is with everyone else.

The researchers trace the problem back to what they term the “self esteem movement” that emerged in the 80’s. “Twenge cited a song commonly sung to the tune of ‘Frere Jacques’ in preschool: ‘I am special, I am special. Look at me.'” It’s not the kids aren’t special, because the Lord knows how proud we are of our kids. But they aren’t that special. Sometimes, they are really rotten. The experts – not all, but many of them – have thought they could fix social problems in children by ignoring them and by heaping huge portions of praise on the disobedient child. “Son, I just want to tell you for the twelfth time today, just how proud I am of you.” But what’s to be proud of if he’s disobedient and manipulative? But what about their self-esteem? Parents are told, “do not say ‘no’ to your child. That hurts their self-esteem.” Is that right? Are children so fragile that they can’t be told “no”? This is the root of the problem. This is why parents can’t bring their children to the store or into a restaurant. Instead of doing the hard work of disciplining/training the child in those settings, they instead stay home and avoid the inevitable. When the child is old enough to go to school, they will become someone else’s problem. The so-called experts who have taught us we can’t say “no” to our children, don’t seem to know a thing about the real world. The real world is full of boundaries, rules, and “nos”. Our children are going to meet reality, sooner or later. Friends, teachers and school administrators, police officers, judges, employers, spouses, and many more are going to tell your precious little child “no”.

And God says “no”. God says you cannot do whatever you want. God says you cannot have His blessing without repentance and obedience to the Gospel (Acts 3:19). God declares to all men everywhere that they must repent (Acts 17:30). God makes no bones about it that we are sinful. The message in the Bible is not “you are really, really, really good.” God loves you, but you will be eternally lost unless you obey Him (Heb. 5:8,9). Children need to know that there is good and bad, right and wrong. The Bible is the truth (John 17:17) and by looking into it, as in a mirror, we see our value as beloved children. “For God so loved the world”, that us, “that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes should not perish, but have everlasting life.” But when we look in the mirror or the Truth, we also see our sinful and disobedient side. The Bible tells us the good and the bad about ourselves. It’s a good way to train our children to say, “We love and adore you, but when you do something bad, we are going to call attention to it. And we expect change.” Let you kids know what a gift they are from God, but also let them know that your job is to discipline them to become honest, giving, and productive citizens and children of God.

Categories: narcissism, pride, Rom. 12:3; humility, self love, vanity

3 replies

  1. Somewhere along the line, we’ve forgotten that self esteem is earned through contending with difficulties, not taught. And character is the basic building block of all success, which is developed through the acquisition of self esteem.


  2. “Self-esteem”, as it is popularly taught today, needs purification. Thanks for highlighting its absurdity, etc. “Self-confidence” is what many youth need especially during specific periods of growth. This begins with TRUST in others, including God. “Self-esteem” is surely valid when we consider the truth that we are created in the image and likeness of God; that we are not accidents but part of God’s loving plan from all eternity; that the world was created for us; that God desires to make us happy; that responding to God’s plan is the path to true and lasting happiness and that the Cross of Christ is unavoidable along this path. Education from many parents, schooling, and the mass media comes up real short in this area, no?


  3. In response to this study someone pointed out that what we need to be teaching our children is self-control. Self-esteem will come later and it will be legitimate.


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