My husband and I are co-writing a Bible study together on The Beatitudes. It’s been a fun challenge to write and research each beatitude; but, also, to learn. As I was writing about “blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth”, I was struck by the lack of meekness, not only in myself, but in society, in general. There is an entire generation coming up who have no sense of meekness. No humility. No deference to others. No sense of their own limitations. They believe that they “deserve” to get things which they have not earned. A sense of entitlement is rampant.
This is most clear to anyone who has ever watched “American Idol“. I am amazed at the talentless, tone deaf people who get up to sing and are outraged to be told that they have no singing talent. They are shocked! They have been told by all their family and friends that they are phenomenal singers. They use the word “awesome” to describe themselves. They have no talent but have been told for many years that everything they do is “awesome” and worthy of high praise.
This has done a lot of damage to an entire generation who have received unearned praise and misguided encouragement in areas that they are not gifted. They produce mediocre crap and are told it’s awesome! Instead of redirecting a young person toward their talents and interests, we say “You can do anything!” Well, no, they can’t. Some people are just not gifted in certain things. A terribly shy person who is afraid of speaking in public will never be president. A blind person will not qualify for the NASA. A tone deaf person will not be singing at the Metropolitan Opera. Taking a realistic look at oneself, and an personal inventory would help to point people toward meekness.
I know, without a doubt, I would not make a good carpenter. I hate the tedium of measuring everything. I take short cuts. Not good qualities for a carpenter. I see qualities, gifts and talents in my children and encourage the positive that I see. I encourage my son to read science books because he is fascinated by it. I encourage my oldest daughter’s artistic ability by getting her pencils, paper, drawing kits. And, I have to say, that not everything my kids make or do is “awesome”.
In Gary Smalley’s book The Five Love Languages of Children, he points out that children need verbal affirmation and praise. I agree. He, also, points out that the praise and affirmation should be proportionate to the accomplishment. If your child draws a picture of a house, you can say “You did a good job. I like how you used the blue for the house. I can tell you took a lot of time on this”. How do you think the child who grows up hearing that everything he/she does is “awesome”, “the best in the whole universe”? I’ll tell you….an over-inflated sense of self and their accomplishments. You have a child lacking meekness.
So, unless your 5 year old built a particle accelerator out of LEGOS, let’s reserve the word “awesome” for the Creator of the universe. And use “good job” for the creator of the play-doh bowl.