Doesn't the idea of building self-esteem, self-value, self-worth (all those self-things that are promoted by our culture) into our kids slap Jesus in the face. Do you think any of our teens are confused by the mixed message they get. I think I am. I never had good self-esteem growing up. I was kind of chubby, kind of poor, my family was kind of messed up and I thought very little of myself. I had nothing to be confident about except that I could drink a lot and make people laugh by acting like an idiot. I didn't know anything about God, so had very little purpose or direction in life. All the messages I got from the world were that I had to improve myself in order to measure up to someone else.
That's not the message Jesus had though. He actually says we have to let everything of ourselves go and let Him replace that with Him. That is the only place we have esteem, value and worth. I used to try to find worth in my basketball ability, then when I realized I was a 5’8” white kid from the back woods of Nova Scotia and never going to make it to the NBA (or to the D division provincial tournament for that matter). I started to look for worth in my musical ability. No gold records yet. Not looking there anymore. I love playing music, especially worshiping Jesus, but the value is not in the playing, it’s in the person I’m playing for. A while ago, I shared with my friend Peggy that sometimes I get really nervous when I lead worship because I have bad self confindence. She said that's good becasue it's about being confident in Him. That small tidbit of truth changed the way I approached leading worship. I realized it was about him, not me. Such a simple word set me free.
Don't you think it's time to stop giving our kids the false hope that if they finish top of their class, or score the winning goal or get into the right school, whatever other expectation we may put on them, that they'll somehow gain worth. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against kids working hard and doing well, I’m just against the idea that that is the most important goal. That’s a worldly goal, right?
The first 5 disciple weren’t top of their class, but Jesus picked them anyway. He saw worth in them, great worth apparently, enough that he gave them the task of taking the gospel out and changing the world. He saw the worth and purpose with which He created them. I think I want to help kids see the worth and purpose Jesus created them with. To know that He’s just as likely to call them if they become fishermen as if they become doctors. Do you think it would be good to teach them that His purpose for them is so much more important than the world’s purpose for them?
I think we actually hinder kids when we teach them to go after a goal that’s not God’s plan for their life but our plan for their life. Then they have to fit God and being like Jesus into a mold that isn’t designed for them. Usually God will get squeezed out the sides. If you believe that God created everyone for a purpose, he designed them for something specific in this world, why not help kids see what that is rather that helping them see how important finishing first is in the world. Jesus actually said the first will be last. He became a servant to his followers and actually washed their feet. Is it good enough for us as parents that our kids become foot washers instead of physicists? Is it good enough for us as church leaders to advise kids to follow God’s plans to reach the world rather than our own ideas of how you reach the world? God’s ways are always higher than our ways. Why not let our kids aim at that rather than aiming at being on top of the world?
If people know they have esteem, value and worth in God’s eyes, they won’t be so concerned with having to rely on their own accomplishments or being derailed by their own failures. His love never fails. The worth he places on us never changes. He nailed it to a cross for the world to see. That’s how much value he places on us. Look at Jesus and know you have great value and worth in the eyes of the one who made you and loves you.
I see lots of teenager who have the weight of the world on their shoulders. I think that’s because we’re putting the yoke of the world on them instead of helping them pick up Jesus’ yoke. His is easy, his is light. We do it in the church too. We put the weight of changing the world on young people. “Our children are the future”, of course they are, but I think it’s going to be children of God who change the world because they’ll know that they aren’t doing it, He’s doing it through them. It’s time we (followers of Jesus) start teaching kids that following Jesus is the most important thing we can do, not paying lip service to following Jesus and then placing so much importance on the things of the world. Let’s help our kids find the purpose God has created them for and run all out after that, even if it looks crazy to the rest of the world. So what if they gain the whole world but lose their soul. Do we want our kids to have a good life or real life in Jesus?
I love these lyrics from the Starfield song "Unashamed"
I have not much
To offer You
Not near what You deserve
But still I come
Because Your cross
Has placed in me my worth
I hope we can start teaching people that the cross is where their real worth is found not in our own accomplishments, not in what we have to offer. None of us measure up without Jesus.