I was chatting with a friend and colleague yesterday. He was telling me about some people who had made a series of not-so-good decisions. These people justified their own decisions and did not seem to be open to the idea that they could somehow be wrong or misguided even though the case for their lack of wisdom is pretty solid. In his description of their character he used the phrase which is the title of this post. He described them as:
“Legends In Their Own Lunchtime.”
This morning I was having a little look at the news and ran across this article on the FoxNews website. Consider this quote:
A new analysis of the American Freshman Survey, which has accumulated data for the past 47 years from 9 million young adults, reveals that college students are more likely than ever to call themselves gifted and driven to succeed, even though their test scores and time spent studying are decreasing.
A gifted person who refuses to put effort into their work is simply wasting talent.
The writer goes on to say a number of more damning things which I find interesting for their clarity and probably truthfulness. Here you go:
On Facebook, young people can fool themselves into thinking they have hundreds or thousands of “friends.” They can delete unflattering comments. They can block anyone who disagrees with them or pokes holes in their inflated self-esteem. They can choose to show the world only flattering, sexy or funny photographs of themselves (dozens of albums full, by the way), “speak” in pithy short posts and publicly connect to movie stars and professional athletes and musicians they “like.”
Using Twitter, young people can pretend they are worth “following,” as though they have real-life fans, when all that is really happening is the mutual fanning of false love and false fame.
Using computer games, our sons and daughters can pretend they are Olympians, Formula 1 drivers, rock stars or sharpshooters. And while they can turn off their Wii and Xbox machines and remember they are really in dens and playrooms on side streets and in triple deckers around America, that is after their hearts have raced and heads have swelled with false pride for “being” something they are not.
On MTV and other networks, young people can see lives just like theirs portrayed on reality TV shows fueled by such incredible self-involvement and self-love that any of the “real-life” characters should really be in psychotherapy to have any chance at anything like a normal life.
These are the psychological drugs of the 21st Century and they are getting our sons and daughters very sick, indeed.
Of course, as Christians, we get to see all of this. Jesus Christ was no narcissist and instead He demonstrated – very visibly – real and genuine humility. How can we resist the siren call of our proud culture and develop His kind of humility in our own lives?
A classic text in the Bible relating to humility is Philippians 2:5-11. Here are the first couple of verses:
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant…
Christ made Himself nothing and demonstrated what humility really is. How can we replicate this process? Here are two pointers for you:
- Genuine humility comes from comparing yourself to the correct thing. If we compare ourselves to our peers, perhaps like some Facebook users, we can come away with a distorted picture of ourselves. We might know some people whose lives seem to lurch from one mishap to the next tragic accident. Compared to them we seem brilliant. Or we might know some other people who really do qualify as the “Shiny Happy People” of R.E.M. fame. Compared to their shiny attractiveness we seem drab, dull and depressing. Yet this is a false way towards humility. We can compare ourselves to what God says about us and to God Himself. This is where we find truth. After all, Jesus said “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” Truth is not found on my Friends list, some Pinterest board or in the most popular Twitter feed. Truth is found in God. When Jesus made Himself nothing, Paul wrote that He “did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.” Comparing ourselves to others by trying to grasp at whatever will make us their equal or their better is not the way towards humility.
- Genuine humility comes from remembering both our position and our value. When Christ came to the Earth His position changed dramatically. Before, He was the “darling of Heaven.” After, He was in the form of man and headed towards the place where He would become guilty of all of the sins of the world. Yet even though His position changed in a huge way, His value did not. Can you remember what God said when Jesus was baptized? “This is My Son, with Whom I am well pleased.” Despite the change in position, Christ did not become less valuable. For ourselves, we can recognize our true position before God as sinners, as created beings and as people in desperate need of His love and grace. We can also recognize the value God places on us. How do we determine the value of an object? By its selling price. If something cannot be sold then it has no value. Sure, some things seem priceless but these things are usually just really, really expensive. So here is the BIG QUESTION: What price did God pay for you?
For God so loved the word that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have eternal life.
Humility comes from comparing ourselves to the truth and through balancing our memory of our position before God with our memory of our worth to God.
We are both desperately needy and utterly valuable. If Facebook, Twitter or pop culture drives us towards forgetting either of these truths then we are indeed on the path towards narcissism and away from our Savior, Jesus Christ.