The message was finished and I had gone to the back of the auditorium to greet the congregation as they were departing the building. One woman, a counsellor in our community, was moving toward me with a clear sense of deliberation. Obviously, she had something to say, and she was going to say it. “Pastor,” she began, “you’re just wrong. If we don’t feel good about ourselves, we’ll never be able to serve God effectively. We have to feel good about ourselves.”
I had stressed in the message that much of the modern educational effort to teach students “self-esteem” was producing a generation of people ill-equipped to function in the world. I had said that students, even when unable to read or to perform simple mathematic calculations, felt “good” about themselves. I argued that modern education efforts were guilty of child abuse through failure to equip youth for life. And the churches were equally guilty of failure to call people to holiness, choosing instead to emphasise the need for people to feel good about themselves.