Them and Us#12. “The Well-intentioned.”

Them and Us#12. “The Well-intentioned.”

Do you remember those feel-good TV movies from the 1990s that emphasised participation over winning? At the time, a teacher who worked with struggling children expressed her frustrations over the films. She said to me, “Those films don’t help anybody. Most of the children I teach are well aware that they will never be able to compete and win against their peers.”

She too believed that the filmmakers were well-intentioned, but she could see that the Participation Trophy motif neither represented nor prepared anyone for the real world. Life as an adult means understanding your present strengths and limitations and building upon them. For someone to say otherwise, no matter how well-intentioned, is to set people up to fail in the marketplace of life.

The devil has his own brand of Well-Meaning in the church. However, his is tailor-made to keep everyone in their seats. He knows that the holy life to which we aspire takes self-discipline. Thus, in our frustrations to make spiritual headway, he sends along well-intentioned Christians to assure us that “Faith is sacrifice enough.”

When we are baptised, we enter the church as if passengers on a bus. It is there that we are made welcome and given a lot of help and guidance on our new journey towards heaven. The aim is not only to be taught the Way to go but also to teach others that Way. We graduate from passenger to helper, to guide (Jesus always being the driver).

The best thing about some church programmes is their ability to make passengers into guides. The worst thing about some church programmes is their ability to leave passengers in the care of guides.

As well-intentioned as we might think ourselves to be, deciding that a brother or sister is incapable of greater usefulness is just creating a tourist class in the church.

John Staiger


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