The book, Generation Me, by Dr. Jean Twenge, identifies some pretty scary realities about the post baby boom generation. Today's count at Amazon.com when searching under "self-esteem" brings up over 80,000 books. Twenge argues that the emerging generation has an overly inflated view of self. She credits this to a kind of "I'm the King of the World!" revolution in the 70's and 80's which promoted an emphasis on self. This obsession with self is also present in the Church, at least the Western church. Twenge even quotes The Purpose Driven Life, whose focus seems to be my purpose, or perhaps God's purposes through me. There is an incredible amount of teaching on an individualistic, personal relationship with Jesus, and very little on what it looks like to be a community of faith relating corporately to Jesus and serving those on the outer rim of social acceptability. Not all of the teaching from an individualistic perspective is bad. There is truth to the fact that we are each fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God. But conversion and discipleship in the New Testament, as I read it, had much more a communal orientation. Households came to faith, and the behavior of entire churches was commended or admonished.
I suffer a crippling self absorption, a fascination with my work, my walk and my world that leaves little room for others. Even when I think of others, I am prominently featured in the thinking. Tracing the trajectory of my dreams, even those dreams of loving and serving others, always seems to bring me back around to self. "How will this act of selfless service be perceived and celebrated?" lurks in the back of my thinking. Writing a book has fed this pre-occupation to some degree. Blogging can be an expression of an inflated self (I open up my thinking to the world in the expectation that what I have to say is of interest or even important for others to read).
Lord teach me poverty of spirit, meekness and true servanthood.