Posts Tagged ‘raising responsible kids’

Most mornings, while working out on my treadmill, I run to classic rock while watching ESPN.

This morning, I saw highlights from last night’s Celtics-Heat playoff game.

Paul Pierce of the Celtics bulldozed over another player during overtime and was called for a foul … and fouled out of the game.

But did he do it?  According to Pierce’s body language, he did NOTHING wrong and shouldn’t have been called for any foul.

Then LeBron James backed into a defender on the other side of the court and both of them fell down.  When James was called for the foul – and he too fouled out – he couldn’t believe it.

It was the defender’s fault … or the ref’s fault … or the fault of Boston Garden (which seems to make “homers” out of refs) … or the fault of those little green leprechauns that inhabit the Garden.

But LeBron James’ fault?  No way.

There was a show on TV when I was a kid called Romper Room.  Believe it or not, I had the show’s theme song on record.  The chorus went like this:

I always do what’s right

I never do anything wrong

I’m a Romper Room do bee

A do bee all day long

Seems to me the first two lines of that song perfectly encapsulate the attitudes of millions of people in our country … especially the second line: “I never do anything wrong.”

A Christian counselor friend of mine once told me that we’re raising a generation of sociopaths.  The latest estimates are that 4% of the population has anti-social personality disorder (the new term for sociopathy), characterized by a complete lack of conscience.

As Dr. Archibald Hart told me after class one day, the sociopath feels no anxiety before doing wrong and feels no guilt afterward.  This person lacks a moral core.  While the sociopath can be outwardly charming, he or she is inwardly manipulative.

And what does this person want more than anything else in life?

To win.

The sociopath will do anything to win.

They choose targets … people who threaten them or who they think are weak … and then bully them or abuse them or lie to them just to watch them squirm.

You’ll find these people running countries … and supervising employees at work … and in families … and in politics … and even in your neighborhood.  (Dr. Martha Stout’s excellent book The Sociopath Next Door asks this question on its cover: Who is the devil you know?)

Although a layman cannot properly diagnose someone as a sociopath – it takes a well-trained psychologist to do so – we can at least suspect someone of having the condition if they demonstrate certain symptoms.

The reason I bring this up is that the last place we’d expect to find a sociopath is in a Christian church.  After all, isn’t the confession of sin a requirement for both conversion and spiritual growth?

As 1 John 1:8 puts it, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”  Verse 10 goes on to say, “If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”

And yet sociopaths slip into church leadership … and onto church staffs … and behind church pulpits … fooling EVERYBODY along the way.

I’ve worked with a handful of church leaders that I suspected fit this description.

They were charismatic individuals.

They ignored authority.

They made the same mistakes over and over again … and didn’t learn anything from them.  (One leader kept getting traffic tickets, and instead of changing his behavior, he’d fight the tickets in court … and win.)

They put on a facade of charm for their adoring public … while engaging in sabotage behind the scenes.  (Whenever I had to correct their behavior, they would tell their fans, who would become upset with me.)

But what I’m most concerned about isn’t the presence of sociopaths in churches.

I’m most concerned about the fact that we’re raising sociopaths in Christian homes.

Let me give you an example.

Imagine that you have a daughter named Jane, who is in the fourth grade.

One day, Jane’s teacher calls you at work and tells you that Jane’s grades are poor and that she’s been misbehaving in class.  The teacher wants to meet with you … right away.

So you meet with Jane’s teacher, who shows you copies of Jane’s incomplete and poorly done assignments … and shows you indisputable proof via surveillance that Jane’s behavior in class is out of control.

Once upon a time, you and Jane’s teacher would collaborate together and come up with a plan for dealing with Jane’s behavior.  Call it a PTA … a parent teacher alliance.  With a strong alliance between school and home, Jane would be forced to change her behavior.

But what happens in our day?  You become incensed because Jane’s teacher doesn’t view your daughter as being perfect … so you blame Jane’s teacher for Jane’s misbehavior … as well as the school … and the curriculum … and Jane’s classmates … as well as President Bush.  (Can you believe that some people are still blaming him for problems in our country, even though he hasn’t been president for almost four years?)

Instead of forming a PTA, you have just formed a PCA (parent-child alliance) with your daughter and against her teacher … and by extension, every other authority that will come into her life.

And what will happen to Jane?  She may grow intellectually … and vocationally … but she won’t be able to grow emotionally or spiritually.

Why not?

Because you, as her parent, will not let her learn from her mistakes.

Could this be a reason why so many college graduates are living at home with their parents?  Just asking.

I’ll have more to say on this matter next time …

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this matter.

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