Tuesday, September 15, 2009

iGens and self-esteem

"Emerging adults (those between 18 and 30) form a generation that is largely insensitive to the potency of God's holiness, and are therefore insensitive to the magnificence of his grace, the shocking nature of his love, and that gratitude forms the core of the Christian life. Some today complain about these matters. But I doubt very much that ramping up moral exhortations and warning about an endless hell are the proper places to begin with emerging adults.

"The typical emerging adult, if I can capture the trend in one expression, is a "self in a castle." That is to say, the "self" is protected from the onslaughts of those who will attack it. I suspect that this is something unique in history. Never has a generation been more in tune with the self and more protective of the self. How did we get here? What led to the self-in-a-castle condition among this generation, whom I call the iGens?"

So writes Scot McKnight in an article entitled The Gospel for iGens in the Leadership Journal online. Scot cites two particular instances of influences which while aiming to be good, actually appeared to have done damage: Mr Rogers, the popular children's storyteller, and Sesame Street.

Mr Rogers...
gave to the current generation a free-standing consciousness that daily says, "I am okay."
Sesame Street...focused on "We are all okay." "...even if current iGens did not directly watch Sesame Street, the themes of the show express a movement that gets at the central attribute of iGens....self-esteem."

Author Jean Twenge concurs: the American educational system and other cultural forces have so focused on self-esteem that they are producing a generation of potential narcissists. This sentence summarizes her assessment of iGens: "The individual has always come first, and feeling good about yourself has always been a primary virtue."

Twenge wrote a book: Generation Me - Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled—and More Miserable than Ever Before.

McKnight points out: Note what [Twenge]'s not saying: iGens are not selfish or spoiled. Instead, they are intoxicated with the impact of 40 years of education that has focused singularly on self-esteem as the entitlement of each and every person for nothing more than being alive. As Twenge puts it, "GenMe is not self-absorbed; we're self-important."

This is an excellent article which aims to show how to reach these young people "who have the healthiest, most robust egos in the history of the West." Read the rest here, since this applies not just to American children, but all those influenced by the American culture.


liz said...

Agreed. I'm rather thankful I was home educated, though I'd argue that message of self importance is pervasive into society at large (speaking of the States) and even into many churches.

mj said...

So the model of atonement that reaches this generation is Jesus as moral exemplar? I wonder when the proselytizing organizations will catch on and update their resources...
I was amused to be at a presentation of "all new, targeted to Gen X" resources by an organization, using memory sticks and data projectors to present "justification by faith". Hmmm

Mike Crowl said...

Think you're right, Liz....it's just that we older people pretend we're not really like that...!

MJ: When words won't do....use memory sticks!