Studying this week’s Sabbath School lesson, on the humility of the wise, reminded me of a conversation I had, during fellowship dinner in a church I spoke in. A mother told me she was always pushing her daughter to do her best, and win awards and honor roll certificates. She would brag about how wonderful her daughter was doing in school and sports and so forth, until one day when the girl was 15 and told her mother,
“You don’t love me. You love my accomplishments.”
The mother told me it felt like a slap in the face! Of course it was not true (I suppose), but the mother suddenly saw how her daughter came to that conclusion. There is a difference between teaching a child to do her best, and teaching her to be better than everyone else. I like what a young person shared on Facebook a while back.
“I don’t want to be better than anyone. I just want to be better than I was yesterday.”
The end of this Sunday’s lesson has a very profound statement.
You have to feel sorry for people who boast (usually it’s a cover for insecurities anyway); it shows just how self-deceived and ignorant they really are.
Could it be that the mother was living vicariously through her daughter, trying to make up for her own failures? Who knows? I am no psychologist, but I think we all need acceptance. But I don’t want to over-analyze things. Plenty of people go to universities and get advanced degrees simply to learn how to do their jobs and help others. It’s as simple as that. Yet others do it to demonstrate how smart or superior they are. The latter are just clamoring for acceptance. Some become popular because they genuinely care for people, while others work hard to become popular to prove their worth. Others try to demonstrate their worth by accumulating possessions or church offices.
It’s sad that so many people spend all their time and effort to battle their way to the top of the hill so they can be accepted when all along, Jesus has already, “made us accepted in the beloved.” (Ephesians 1:6 NKJV) The wise know that they are already accepted in Christ, and they have no need to demonstrate their superiority to anyone.
When we accept the love God has for us we no longer feel compelled to be better than anybody else. Our goal is not worldly rank or status. It is intimacy with Christ. We don’t feel compelled to do better than others in order to be accepted, but we want to be the best we can be by God’s grace and power because we love God for accepting us no matter what.
This Sunday’s lesson asked the question, “Who do you think you are?” I have learned not to get too excited when I do well, and not to be too dejected when I fail, because at the end of the day, either way, I’m still just me. I wrote this poem a while back, which answers the question in Sunday’s lesson for me.
It’s Just me
I’ve been chauffeured in the back seat of a Cadillac.
I’ve been behind the wheel of an old Volkswagen Beetle.
I’ve eaten in fancy restaurants with all my friends.
I’ve eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwiches all alone.
But all in all I’m just me, it’s just me.
I’ve laughed out loud with the rest of the crowd.
I’ve cried alone where no one else could hear.
I’ve been in first place at the end of a race.
I’ve been so far behind, when will this game just end?
But after all is said and done, I’m just me, it’s just me.
I preached sermons that have moved congregations to tears.
I have preached sermons that have lulled congregations to sleep!
My friends have given me too much praise for a human being.
My adversaries have given me too much criticism, give me a break!
But at the end of it all, I’m just me; it’s just me.
Into every life a little rain and sunshine must fall.
Sometimes I feel small, and other times I feel tall.
I’m no more a person when I do well.
I’m no less a person when I fail.
But either way, I’m just me; it’s just me.
So don’t think that I am perfect all of the time.
Surely you don’t expect all my poems to rhyme.
I often succeed, but I also fail time and again.
Please don’t praise or condemn, just be my friend.
Because win or lose, I’m just me, it’s just me.