The Test


Test_1205948884Many years back when I worked as a Young Life Area Director in Dallas Texas our entire region (actually, the entire state) had the opportunity ti take an assessment test that is usually reserved for high powered executives who can pay the $500 fee for the privilege. Turns out one of the developers of this well respected approach was a Christian and wanted to help young people in the ministry to see where their strengths and weaknesses were.

So off we went, hundreds of us. For over 2 hours we filled in the appropriate circles with our mandatory number 2 pencils (do they still make those?) until every last one was colored in. We then turned them in and a couple weeks later we had the results.

For me it was a very surreal experience. After everyone got their results I was called to a special meeting at regional and told that I scored higher than anyone in the region, even in the state—in fact, everywhere across the country where they’d administered the exam.

They were thrilled. They asked me (with one year left of seminary) whether or not I would consider going with Young Life—for life. Then my regional director said something I will always cherish.

“I can see you running this whole thing some day.”

Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking. They probably say that to several people.

Maybe. I don’t know.

But it was enough for me to give Young Life some serious consideration. I already loved their mission to reach unchurched, spiritually disconnected kids, so that wasn’t a problem. No, there was just one little hang up.

I scored near the bottom in one area.

Self esteem.

I still remember the look of concern when my regional director pointed this out to me. And she looked even more troubled when it became clear that that didn’t bother me in the least.

But she pressed all the more. It should be virtually impossible to score so high in every other area yet so low in self esteem. Even the test developers are somewhat baffled by this. Why aren’t you?

And, for the record, I really wasn’t concerned. I would have been far more concerned if my self esteem was through the roof like so many self promoting, self seeking individuals today. You see, last time I checked (and every time before that come to think of it) my esteem was to go to Jesus, not myself. Last time I checked every good thing that happened in my life was a direct result of the grace and love of Christ.

  • Last time I checked the glory was still supposed to go vertical rather than horizontal.
  • Last time I checked, I was to decrease while He increased.
  • Last time I was not to esteem this life to highly, but to live for the next.
  • Last time I checked, I wasn’t even supposed to store up a bunch of treasures down here, but to esteem much more the type you send on ahead.
  • Last time I checked, the Bible usually made this pretty clear.

Let each of you esteem and look upon and be concerned for not [merely] his own interests, but also each for the interests of others. Philippians 2:4

But none of these things move me; neither do I esteem my life dear to myself, if only I may finish my course with joy and the ministry which I have obtained from [which was entrusted to me by] the Lord Jesus, faithfully to attest to the good news (Gospel) of God’s grace (His unmerited favor, spiritual blessing, and mercy). Acts 20:24

And hold them in very high and most affectionate esteem in [intelligent and sympathetic] appreciation of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. I Thessalonians 5:13

I’m not saying that God wants us to go around eating worms and singing “Poor, pitiful me.” But He does love a humble spirit and chooses only to use such people. In fact, God wants us to develop self confidence (in Him). But that’s different than self-esteem. Self esteem is a relatively new phenomenon, and only now are we really beginning to rethink the wisdom of it.

Join me tomorrow I’ll share with you what a society obsessed with self esteem ends up looking like.