Last Friday a friend of mine posted the following on his Facebook page:

“In the 50s teens were asked if they thought they were an “important person.” 12% said yes. In the 1980s…over 75% said yes. Who was right?”

A great question. Not necessarily because one is right and one is wrong, but because simply looking at the disparity makes me wonder which group of teens showed the desired result. What is it we really want for our kids?

I would say it depends.

Those stats hit me where I live. I’m hanging out with hundreds of teenagers this week, AND I’m nearing the final years of raising my three boys, the youngest going on 14, the oldest nearing 19. Whether with my boys or the students I mentor, I’ve worked hard to help them see their unique value, to appreciate differences, capitalize on strengths, fine-tune weaknesses. But there are times–namely when I see shocking evidence of absolute self-consumption and callousness toward anything external to them–that I have to wonder if we’ve made this whole life thing too much about them, and not enough about an awareness and promotion of God and others.

Do I want my kids to see themselves as important? Yes, although, honestly, I don’t think “important” is the word I’m looking for. I want them to see themselves as a unique product of a Creator, capable of contributing to our culture, significant and valuable, accountable for using their gifts for some kind of good. But there is a fine line between affirming their tremendous value and leading them to believe their value eclipses that of others.

C.S. Lewis said: “Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less.”

Are we producing a generation of confident world-changers or poisonous narcissists? How do you cultivate confidence and selflessness at the same time?

(pic by eurostilet, stock.xchng)

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