It might come as a surprise to some of us, but the more we allow ourselves to be totally absorbed by our own personal agenda…the more people will shun us; the more people will not trust us; the more people will lose interest in our beliefs. Putting ourselves first in the majority of our endeavors leaves us without the oars and the anchors needed to navigate life. The basic acceptance of others…the acknowledgement of others is critical to our growth as a contributing member of society.
Dr. Everett Piper is the President of Oklahoma Wesleyan University in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. He wrote the profound letter that I include in this post to his student body in 2015. I read it then and agreed with every word. I read it today and I totally understand his frustration with the sense of entitlement displayed by some young adults. Some older adults are similarly afflicted with popular entitlement issues, self-absorbed visions and a lack of conscience.
Dr. Piper’s letter to the student body…
Dr. Everett Piper, President
Oklahoma Wesleyan University
“This past week, I actually had a student come forward after a university chapel service and complain because he felt “victimized” by a sermon on the topic of…
1 Corinthians: 13.
It appears this young scholar felt offended because a homily on love made him feel bad for not showing love. In his mind, the speaker was wrong for making him, and his peers, feel uncomfortable.
I’m not making this up. Our culture has actually taught our kids to be this self-absorbed and narcissistic. Any time their feelings are hurt, they are the victims. Anyone who dares challenge them, and thus, makes them feel bad about themselves is a hater, a bigot, an oppressor and a victimizer.
I have a message for this young man and all others who care to listen. That feeling of discomfort you have after listening to a sermon is called a conscience. An altar call is supposed to make you feel bad. It is supposed to make you feel guilty. The goal of many a good sermon is to get you to confess your sins–not coddle you in your selfishness. The primary objective of the Church and the Christian faith is your confession, not your self-actualization.
So here’s my advice:
If you want the chaplain to tell you you’re a victim rather than tell you that you need virtue, this may not be the university you’re looking for. If you want to complain about a sermon that makes you feel less than loving for not showing love, this might be the wrong place.
If you’re more interested in playing the hater card than you are in confessing your own hate; if you want to arrogantly lecture, rather than humbly learn; if you don’t want to feel guilt in your soul when you are guilty of sin; if you want to be enabled rather than confronted, there are many universities across the land (in Missouri and elsewhere) that will give you exactly what you want, but Oklahoma Wesleyan isn’t one of them.
At OKWU, we teach you to be selfless rather than self- centered. We are more interested in you practicing personal forgiveness than political revenge. We want you to model interpersonal reconciliation rather than foment personal conflict. We believe the content of your character is more important rather than the color of your skin. We don’t believe that you have been victimized every time you feel guilty and we don’t issue trigger warnings before altar calls.
Oklahoma Wesleyan is not a “safe place”, but rather a place to learn: to learn that life isn’t about you, but about others; that the bad feelings you have while listening to a sermon is called guilt; that the way to address it is to repent of everything that’s wrong with you rather that blame others for everything that’s wrong with them. This is a place where you will quickly learn that you need to grow up.
This is not a day care. This is a university.”
You are entitled to life…you are not entitled to the gift of character. You earn character. Use your talents to benefit others…to bring hope to others.
Reach out to others as if your total life depended on it. In reality, your life does depend on your selflessness…not your self-centered behavior.
Instead, it could be possible that we should strive for self development…the need to be truly a good person, the need to fully be alive with joy and commitment, the need to find a deeper meaning to life.