On Colleges and Keeping Up

Hustle is an idol if it leads you to cut ethical corners in order to stand out in a competitive world. Katelyn Beaty

I for one am completely fascinated by this past weeks crazy college recruiting scandal. The well-oiled machine that is our national media never misses a beat. I’ve been trying to understand why it has affected me so, and I think it’s largely because it simply hits me in a vulnerable spot: the kids.

I talked with my boys about the antics of these unhinged parents and what could be the driving force behind all this. The irony of it all was of course further compounded by the fact that one of them is a seemingly squeaky clean Hallmark darling whose entire career is based on portraying wholesome characters. You just never know.

I’m acutely aware of the dilemmas and difficulties of raising teens in a culture that wants to undo every value and belief we hold dear. We struggle on a regular basis with boundaries, ethics, identity and truth. The comparison game is strong. Everyone is living in a bona fide pressure cooker that could blow at any moment if we don’t properly let some of the steam out.

We came to a conclusion that much of it has to do with daily, gray-area choices we all make. One compromise leads to another. Pride, when fed and encouraged is almost impossible to tame.

Do I brag about this success or stay humble?

Do I cut corners here if nobody will ever know?

Should I turn a blind eye to something I’ve seen that I know is wrong?

One of our biggest struggles has been the old “well everyone else is doing it, we need to keep up” excuse. I call it the Lance Armstrong defense. You have to do certain things just to even the playing field, or else you’re going to be left in the dust.

Before you know it, you’re photoshopping their face on some other kid’s body and bribing the ACT test-giver.

It’s easy to poke fun at this crowd. I’ve read up on the other non-celebrity parents, and quite honestly, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for them. I do understand, as we all do, feeling overwhelmed and inadequate to be somebody in a world where there are already so many somebody’s.

It’s quite literally the oldest story in the book. Satan tempted Adam and Eve into believing they could have fulfillment outside of God. He convinced Eve that she could acquire something better and elevate herself to a new level of importance.

This whole thing is a losing game. The ends do not justify the unethical means it takes to get there. What is their end game anyway? To bounce from one material success to another, never slipping, never letting anyone see what you’ve sacrificed to get there? I’ll pass.

This is why we reject the hustle, the self-help nonsense and the even (I’m sorry to say) the Christian cool kids who are taking us further into the grey fog of compromise. I’ll be the first to admit, swimming upstream in a downstream world is not easy or even enjoyable at times. But sin always, always ends up costing us more than it can ever give us. The obsession with worldly image is taking perfectly kind and rational people down a path that will destroy them. I used to try and shield my kids from defeat, but now when it happens I don’t necessarily shun it. There’s big things to be learned through disappointment. It’s the same disappointment though that can drive us to make foolish decisions. I loosely joke with them and ask “Would you be the Tim Tebow or the Lance Armstrong?”

I’d like to think Jesus would come down and personally smack me upside my head if I ever stooped to something so low, but let’s be honest here… we are all just one selfish, insecure decision away from doing something really dumb. We are not above our teens any more than they are above us, and we all need the same thing:

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage… for you brethren, have been called to liberty… but God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Galatians 5:1, 13,/6:14

Friends, we don’t have to live on the hamster wheel. It’s hard to be in the minority, but it’s actually also a great honor. The world is destined to be deceived, they are bent on it. Let’s remember we don’t have to claw our way up the totem pole or prove our worth. We are worthy and loved already, our kids are too, whether they wind up at Harvard or living in our basement.




11 thoughts on “On Colleges and Keeping Up

      • Bibleguy317 says:

        Hi I don’t know if you read the Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel but Social Justice and other things are being taught to the current generation in colleges and its coming in the church when it doesn’t belong in the church.

  1. Wally Fry says:

    It’s no wonder the corporate environment today has no ethical standard by which it conducts itself; making money is the only guiding principle. Don’t misunderstand, making money is great, that’s how a robust economy works. But, where did we lose doing it rightly and fairly? Right there, with those parents, is where it got lost.

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