Accepting the Gift

A friend once told me, "Everything worth anything is hard." That proverb is true in many areas of life, but we've got to abandon it briefly if we want to grasp and embrace God’s grace. It comes freely. You can't earn it. A part of us rebels against such lavish and reckless generosity. It sounds noble to say, “I don't want anything handed to me that I don't deserve. I work for what I get.” But if you earn it, the spotlight shifts from God's graciousness.. to your own striving and accomplishment.

Are you anxious and "tied up in knots" today? You know can’t be good enough. You know you don’t measure up. You don’t deserve to be happy or fulfilled or forgiven. But there's good news. When we come to the end of ourselves and let go.. we are set free and can truly relax in grace. There’s not a thing we can do to make God love us any more.. or any less.

Stephen Goforth

Fellow Students

The best professors.. were no longer high priests, selfishly guarding the doors to the kingdom of knowledge to make themselves look more important. They were fellow students – no, fellow human beings – struggling with the mysteries of the universe, human society, historical development, or whatever. They found affinity with their students in their own ignorance and curiosity, in their love of life and beauty, in their mixture of respect and fear, and in that mix they discovered more similarities than differences between themselves and the people who populated their classes. A sense of awe at the world and the human condition stood at the center of their relationships with those students.

Most important, that humility, that fear, that veneration of the unknown spawned a kind of quiet conviction on the part of the best teachers that they and their students could do great things together.

Ken Bain, What the Best College Teachers Do

We are Lousy Self-evaluators

A stranger walks into a room and sits down behind a table. He picks up a piece of paper and read aloud a generic-sounding weather report. He completes his “report” in about 90 seconds and walks out of the room.

Next, you’re asked to guess his IQ.

You’re part of a psychological experiment, and you object to the absurdity of the request. I don’t know anything about that guy. He just came into a room and read a report. It wasn’t even his report- you gave it to him to read! How am I supposed to know his IQ?

Reluctantly, you make a wild guess. Separately, Fake Weatherman is asked to guess his own IQ. Who made a better guess?

Amazingly, you did, even though you know nothing about Fake Weatherman. Two (German) psychologists.. conducted this experiment, and they found that the strangers’ IQ predictions were better than the predictions of those whose IQ was being predicted- about 66 percent more accurate.

To be clear, it’s not so much that you’re a brilliant predictor; it’s that he’s a lousy self-evaluator. We’re all lousy self-evaluators. College students do a superior job predicting the longevity of their roommates’ romantic relationships than their own.

Savor, for a moment, the preposterousness of these findings. Fake Weatherman has all the information, and you’ve got none. He’s got decades of data- year’s worth of grades, college entrance exams cores, job evaluations, and more. Fake Weatherman should be the worlds foremost expert on Fake Weatherman!

Chip & Dan Heath, Switch

Lovable

No sooner do we believe that God loves us than there an impulse to believe that he does so, not because he is love, but because we are intrinsically lovable.. But then, how magnificently we have repented.. (so) we next offer our own humility to God’s admiration. Surely, he’ll like that? If not that, our clear-sighted and humble recognition that we still lack humility. Thus, depth beneath depth and subtlety within subtlety, there remains some lingering idea of our own, our very own, attractiveness.

It is easy to acknowledge but almost impossible to realize for long, that we are mirrors whose brightness if we are bright, is wholly derived from the sun that shines upon us. Surely we must have a little – however little – native luminosity?

We want to be loved for our cleverness, beauty, generosity, fairness usefulness. The first hint that anyone is offering us the highest love of all is a terrible shock.

CS Lewis, The Four Loves

when children ask why

Children not only need to hear our conclusions (Do this! Do that!) they need to know the thought process that got us to those conclusions (Here's why you should do this or that). They need context. If you only offer orders and rules, then we are not teaching, not serving them as parents. We are just pontificating.

It's hard work articulating why we believe what we believe. We may hesitate, out of fear, to tell our children the honest "whys." Perhaps if we share, they will discover our secret weaknesses or find flaws in our reasoning. But rather than hiding our imperfections, if we let them know we are fallible as they are, we share with them a common bond and a true honesty. Rather than just trying to pour truth into their heads, we can help them make the marvelous discovery that they have something to contribute to our lives as well. We are fellow struggles, learning how to live right in a confusing and challenging world.

Stephen Goforth

Humility

Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people CALL ‘humble’ nowadays: he will not be a greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a bit envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.

CS Lewis, Mere Christianity

Are you Average?

The last thirty years of research shows just about all of us think we are more competent than our coworkers, more ethical than our friends, friendlier than the general public, more intelligent than our peer, more attractive than the average person, less prejudiced than people in our region, younger-looking than people the same age, better drivers than most people we know, better children than our siblings, and that we will live longer than the average lifespan.

(As you just read that list, maybe you said to yourself, “No, I don’t think I’m better than everyone.” So you think you’re more honest with yourself than the average person? You are not so smart.)

No one, it seems, believes he or she is part of the population contributing to the statistics generating averages. You don’t believe you are an average person, but you do believe everyone else is. This tendency, which springs from self-serving bias, is called the illusory superiority effect.

In 1999, Justin Kruger at the New York University Stern School of Business showed illusory superiority was more likely to manifest in the minds of subject when they were told ahead of time a certain task was easy. When they rated their abilities after being primed to think the task was considered simple, people said they performed better than average. When he then told people where were about to perform a task that was difficult they rated their performance as being below average even when it wasn’t . No matter the actual difficulty, just telling people ahead of time how hard the undertaking would be changed how they saw themselves in comparison to an imagined average. To defeat feelings of inadequacy, you first have to imagine a task as being simple and easy. If you can manage to do that, illusory superiority takes over.

David McRaney, You are Not so Smart

How We See Ourselves

You pay attention to the successes and failures of friends more than you do to those of strangers. You compare yourself to those who are close to you in order to judge your own worth. In other words, You know Barack Obama and Johnny Depp are successful, but you don’t use them to as a standard for your own life to the degree you do coworkers, fellow students, friends you’ve know since high school.

(Researchers) had students list the number of people they considered friends and then asked if the subjects believed they had more friends than did their peers and more friends than the average student. Thirty-five percent of the students said they had more friends than the typical student, and 23 percent said they had fewer. This better-than-average feeling was enhanced when considering their peers- 41 percent said they had more friends ship than did the peers they considered to be their friends. Only 16 percent said they had fewer. On average, everyone things they are more popular than you, and you think you are more popular than them.

Sure, some of your faults are just too obvious, even to you but you compensate for those by inflating what you like most about you. When you compare your skills, accomplishments, and friendships with those of others, you tend to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. You are a liar by default, and you lie most to yourself. If you fail, you forget it. IF you win, you tell everyone. When it comes to being honest with yourself and those you love, you are not so smart

David McRaney, You are Not so Smart

Humility

Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people CALL ‘humble’ nowadays: he will not be a greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a bit envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.

CS Lewis, Mere Christianity

How We See Ourselves

You pay attention to the successes and failures of friends more than you do to those of strangers. You compare yourself to those who are close to you in order to judge your own worth. In other words, You know Barack Obama and Johnny Depp are successful, but you don’t use them to as a standard for your own life to the degree you do coworkers, fellow students, friends you’ve know since high school.

(Researchers) had students list the number of people they considered friends and then asked if the subjects believed they wad more friends than did their peers and more friends than the average student. Thirty-five percent of the students said they had more friends than the typical student, and 23 percent said they had fewer. This better-than-average feeling was enhanced when considering their peers- 41 percent said they had more friends ship than did the peers they considered to be their friends. Only 16 percent said they had fewer. On average, everyone things they are more popular than you, and you think you are more popular than them.

Sure, some of your faults are just too obvious, even to you but you compensate for those by inflating what you like most about you. When you compare your skills, accomplishments, and friendships with those of others, you tend to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. You are a liar by default, and you lie most to yourself. If you fail, you forget it. IF you win, you tell everyone. When it comes to being honest with yourself and those you love, you are not so smart.

David McRaney, You are Not so Smart

Your #1 (Psychological) Priority

To determine your #1 priority ask yourself, “What am I trying to avoid?”

What you are trying to avoid: Stress

#1 priority: comfort

How Others May feel: irritated or annoyed

The price you pay: reduced productivity

What you are trying to avoid: Rejection

#1 priority: pleasing

How Others May feel: accepting

The price you pay: stunted growth

What you are trying to avoid: Unexpected Humiliation

#1 priority: control

How Others May feel: challenged

The price you pay: social distance, reduced spontaneity

What you are trying to avoid: Meaninglessness

#1 priority: superiority

How Others May feel: inadequate

The price you pay: overburdened or over responsible

What you are trying to avoid: Pride

#1 priority: humility

How Others May feel: blessed

The price you pay: die to self

owning the failure, too

We humans are the victims of an asymmetry in the perceptions of random events. We attribute our successes to our skills, and our failures to external events outside our control, namely to randomness. We feel responsible for the good stuff but not for the bad. This causes us to think that we are better than other at whatever we do for a living.

Nassim Taleb, The Black Swain

 

What know-it-alls don’t know

Know-it-alls can be insufferable, and now there’s new evidence that they know less than they’d have you believe. Researchers from Cornell and Tulane universities found that self-proclaimed experts are more prone to “overclaiming”—essentially, pretending to have extensive knowledge of something they’re clueless about. In the study, 100 volunteers were asked to rate their level of knowledge in various subjects, such as biology, literature, and personal finance. When quizzed on 15 different economic terms, the people who fancied themselves financial gurus were far more likely to claim they were familiar with phenomena such as “pre-rated stocks” and “fixed-rate deduction” that were actually complete fictions. Tests on the other topics revealed similar results—even when participants were warned that some terms would be phony. “Our work suggests that the seemingly straightforward task of judging one’s knowledge may not be so simple,” researcher Stav Atir tells Science Daily, “particularly for individuals who believe they have a relatively high level of knowledge to begin with.”

The Week Magazine, August 7, 2015