"Project Charlie" in Our Schools
Have you taken a walk down your child's or grandchild's Christian school hallway lately? Have you sensed a distinct Christian presence as you look at the latest artistic endeavor on the walls or the most recent bulletin board display? How about the first day back to school when every teacher has a colorful classroom ready? If someone were blindfolded and put in the midst of one of our schools, how long would it be before they could distinguish between a public school and a Christian school?
If you have been observant, you may have noticed a large bulletin board display with the words "God made me special" with all the children's names underneath. Or maybe you saw a cute bear motif in the classroom with the quote, "You are a beary special person." The same message of being a special person is seen in many places, many songs, many stories, and in many Christian classrooms.
These self-glorifying statements and the godless ideology undergirding them are subtly replacing our Biblically self-denying, Christ-centered, God-glorifying faith.
Modern psychology, positive thinking, and so-called Christian counseling with its self-esteem and self-love jargon is more and more visible to anyone touring our schools. This visible evidence is but the tip of the iceberg. The real concern lies in the focus of our children's curriculum, the teacher's orientation and training and messages our children are receiving daily through the media, literature, and even drug prevention programs. One such controversial educational program is Project Charlie, but it goes under different disguises in different school systems.
A real spiritual battle is being waged at present and has been fought for some time now by concerned parents who have found these programs and their related counterparts such as Quest, Skills for Living, etc., to be anti-Christian and secular-humanistic in their philosophical approach to preventing drug abuse. These programs were brought into the public school sector, but after careful scrutiny and discernment, many public school educators have decided to drop the programs. Yet, sadly enough, many of our Christian educators, who in their hearts are attempting to address social ills, have bought into these programs, and have so invested the school and themselves, that even with the increased pressure from concerned parents, they are unwilling to hold the philosophy of these programs up before the Bible to see if they truly are compatible.
Many of these parents have done extensive amounts of research into these programs and have found that around the nation, many experts in various fields, whether they themselves be Christian or non-Christian, have seen the fallacy of such self-esteem programs.
We Christians have become so saturated with the self-love message, that we can hardly discern anymore between what comes from the pen of some psychologist and what the Bible says. The type of self-love that we read about in our popular magazines; see on television; hear from many of our nation's pulpits; and see on the Christian book best seller list is diametrically opposed to the Biblical message. Our children are hearing more and more of the self-love, self-esteem, and I AM SPECIAL message and not that message which tells them of their true condition before a holy God and their need of redemption.
Don't be fooled or deceived by the self-love message. These terms are not found in the Word of God and the only passage that is sometimes construed to be a self-love statement, "Love your neighbor as yourself" is never to be isolated from "Love the Lord your God…" In other words, we are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves, selves who love God with all our hearts, souls, minds, bodies, and strength.
All this increased interest in self-esteem comes from the desire in many to eradicate what they consider to be a blight on our land – low self-esteem. Looking closer, we see that low self-esteem is actually pride in disguise. The more we think about ourselves, the more we inflate our own significance. The Bible hits the bull's eye when it clearly states, "Do not think of yourselves more highly than you ought" (Rom. 12:3), "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves" (Phil. 2:3), "Blessed are the poor in spirit" (Matt. 5:3, 5), and "I must decrease, He must increase" (Jn. 3:30) R.S.V.
Looking through the Project Charlie manual and other related materials, one is impressed with the number of times the "I AM SPECIAL" message is utilized. One of the first pages contains a certificate of participation whereby a student is certified at the end of the program as being "someone special." Soon afterwards in the manual comes a picture to color and fill in, entitled; "Things that make me special." Also there is a picture to be colored, entitled; "Color me special." And so it goes. A statement of belief about human relationships or the philosophy of this type of program is found toward the end of the manual.
If we can succeed in helping each of our students to learn how to identify and creatively satisfy his/her own real needs we will have paid him/her the highest tribute of respect of which we are capable.
We love our children and they are very special to us. But just because they are so special to us, we need to tell them of their true condition before God and their need individually for a Savior. If more and more, from pre-school on, they hear this I AM SPECIAL message and less and less the reason why they need redemption, then Satan has made a big inroad. Psychology, positive thinking, and self-esteem talk have become very attractive not only to the world at large, but also in our neighborhood Christian school. Let's tell our children and grandchildren what it is – Satan's ploy.
Let us not see ourselves as someone special, but rather let us see that Special Someone – The Lord Jesus Christ as the focus of our lives. Then self-esteem becomes Christ-esteem and through Him, esteeming others better than ourselves. In this way, our children's lives take on the right direction and purpose. True joy and peace fill our homes, our churches, and our classrooms.