Monday, June 11, 2012

The Faculty Speech - You Are Not Special

David McCullough, Jr. (son of historian and author David McCullough) recently gave a facinating faculty commencement address at Wellesley High School, where Dr. McCullough serves as an English Teacher.

The video of the address is just over 12 minutes in length and it's worth watching in its entirety:

One of the most compelling parts of the speech is where Dr. McCullough said, "[We] have of late, we Americans, to our detriment, come to love accolades more than genuine achievement." He continued:
We have come to see them as the point — and we’re happy to compromise standards, or ignore reality, if we suspect that’s the quickest way, or only way, to have something to put on the mantelpiece, something to pose with, crow about, something with which to leverage ourselves into a better spot on the social totem pole.  No longer is it how you play the game, no longer is it even whether you win or lose, or learn or grow, or enjoy yourself doing it…  Now it’s “So what does this get me?”  As a consequence, we cheapen worthy endeavors, and building a Guatemalan medical clinic becomes more about the application to Bowdoin than the well-being of Guatemalans.  It’s an epidemic — and in its way, not even dear old Wellesley High is immune… one of the best of the 37,000 nationwide, Wellesley High School… where good is no longer good enough, where a B is the new C, and the midlevel curriculum is called Advanced College Placement.
As I read that poignant phrase, "building a Guatemalan medical clinic becomes more about the application to Bowdoin that the well-being of Guatemalans," my mind went to the church. We need to be careful that the church not succumb to the unhealthy desire for accolades rather than the faithful obedience to Christ's commanded mission to make disciples. We cannot be satisfied to simply be seen as helpers, or to be "missional" (whatever that means) in order to be "relavant." Relevance isn't the point. Faithfulness to the gospel of Christ is. If any pastor, church member, congregation, denomination, or other group seeks to be "missional" for the sake of gaining eyeballs, or penetrating that hard-to-reach "youth demographic," it runs the risk of compromising the truth - that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Indeed, "faith apart works is dead," (James 2:26). But so are works without faith.

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