“Study says lots of students narcissistic”

“Study says lots of students narcissistic”—that was the front page headline on my newspaper this week.  Remember Narcissus from Greek mythology, who fell in love with his own reflection in the water pond?  “Narcissistic” is to be just like him.  Which is why the article begins:  “Today’s college students are more narcissistic and self-centered than their predecessors, according to a comprehensive new study by five psychologists who worry that the trend could be harmful to personal relationships and American society.” (South Bend Tribune 2-27-07)  This is the generation, researchers are observing, that was taught over and over, “You’re special.”  These are the first fruits of the self esteem movement of the ‘80s.  It is this generation that has invented “MySpace” and “YouTube” as expressions of its attention-seeking, the article goes on.

Coincidentally, I read the news report the day before flying down to Dallas this week for the first of it’s kind North American “Just Claim It!” event, a continental youth congress for prayer and mission.  My assignments took me there for less than 24 hours, but I saw thousands of kids, from teenagers to young adults, along with their leaders, gathered together out of a passion for Christ and a desire to seize the moment and accelerate his mission into high gear.  In fact, they’re still there this morning in that Dallas convention center.

What a refreshing and compelling contrast between those young adults in Dallas, our young adults here at Andrews, and the focus of this just released national study.  While it’s true that young followers of Jesus are susceptible to the beckoning trends of society at large, I’m grateful to recognize that so many Christian Adventist young adults live with an “others centered” drive that overrides the “me first” tendencies of their generation (and ours as well).

After all, Jesus’ radical call short-circuits all our latent narcissism.  “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and let her take up her cross and follow Me” (see Mark 8:34).    It wasn’t the majority response of  the 16,475 college students in this nationwide study.  But may it be the majority response of every worshiper, young or old, that comes to follow Jesus today.  For how else will this generation be the one to finish the mission of Christ on earth, than by following our self-sacrificing Savior?