Falling Heroes

There are a plethora of fallen heroes of late. A popular Christian pastor, author, and network leader has publicly stepped down. Another athlete has be found to be regularly abusing his spouse. A politician running for president is beset by yet another scandal. Read the news. Daily heroes are falling in the sports world, in the political world, and even in the Christian community. The element of these stories that is most astonishing to me is not the offense of the people who we look to as heroes, but rather our surprise that these people are capable of disappointing us. (for a related post, see Up on a Pedestal) Maybe are surprised because of the amount of money they make. We have the flawed perspective that money perfects behavior. What we forget is that money or power or popularity provides a false sense of self. Having money may cover brokenness in a bought exterior, but the person on the inside will be unaffected. If you were unhappy or angry before having money, you will be unhappy or angry after having it. If you were unhappy or angry before having power, you will be unhappy or angry after having it. If you were unhappy or angry before having popularity, you will be unhappy or angry after having it. Another possible reason for our surprise may come from thinking that surely the affirmation of so many fans would perfect one’s values and beliefs. Yet, as anyone who is followed could tell you, the affirmation of the crowd is more of a noose. Behavior is determined by what will keep the affirmation flowing. The crowd will love...

Up On a Pedestal

Throughout our lives we have seasons in which we get put on some sort of pedestal. Built up in the mind of at least one other into something that we are not. Children put their parents on a pedestal. Spouses put each other on a pedestal. Congregations put their pastors high up on a pedestal. Truth is, this feels good. When we are the center of the kingdom, when the world is revolving around us, it builds up our sense of significance. It is easy to build an identity on what people think of us – having our sense of self and value reflected back to us by those we surround our self with. But when my feeling of being worth loving comes from the validation of others – it is a trap. Then you have to behave a certain way and project a certain image in order to gain the approval. The approval becomes an idol. It must be served. It takes work to stay on the pedestal. Know why pastors fall? Their focus became the pedestal rather than being centered in Jesus. Know why marriages fail? At least one spouse’s focus is on their pedestal. Serving self over serving the other. Know why peer pressure is so effective? It is all about having a pedestal to be put on. Jesus was put on a pedestal. Lauded by the crowds. Followed by thousands. Approval like that would certainly be a temptation. But Jesus was centered in the Father. From that position of submission and oneness, Jesus had his identity and purpose. Despite being on the pedestal, He maintained...

The Reflected Sense of Self

The Bible is truth. It cannot be minimized into a user manual for life. Nor it is a guide for a more prosperous life. To say it is a science book would also be a mistake. It is the truth about our relationship with God. Man’s search for significance and God’s desire to impart it to us.   It is with that belief that a passage in the book of James helped me shed light on a psychological concept that I just became aware of: the reflected sense of self.   We all want significance and will try to find it in Christ or outside of Christ. When we seek it outside of Christ, we form what spiritual theologians call the false self. An identity that allows us to define our significance. Yet, while we would call ourselves free, in reality it is the opposite of the freedom that God intends for us.   One of the ways that we experience this bondage is that the false self must be continually propped up in order to be convinced of its significance. We become a slave to securing our identity. Significance requires comparison, so the false self attempts to define who we are in relation to others. Among others, the question “what do others think of me?” becomes of paramount importance as we attempt to feed the false identity outside of Christ.   This is where we pick up with the idea of the reflected sense of self – that out of our own lack we take on the emotions that are reflected to us by others. It is as if we...

Gain Perspective. Live Well.

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