Egocentrism is the antithesis of Christianity. It wouldn’t take long to create a extensive list of scriptures that show God is against us framing our world around ourselves. Yet that is the message the students in your Bible class are receiving from the culture around them multiple times every day.
Unfortunately, even many churches are teaching and encouraging egocentrism in a variety of forms. Not only is it an ungodly attitude that encourages selfish behavior, but egocentrism is a huge barrier to beneficial critical thinking skills that can protect young people from some of Satan’s lies.
If your Bible students filter every choice, every thought, every action from the viewpoint of what is best for them personally, then they will have an almost impossible time living a godly life. They will believe any number of seemingly logical arguments that draw them farther and farther away from the path God wants them to follow.
It is important to help young people develop empathy skills as a deterrent to egocentricity. Sadly, the current lie in our world is that true empathy is impossible, because you have not literally experienced something in the exact same way the person with whom you are trying to be empathetic with did.
While there may be some truth to that, your Bible students can develop enough empathy to be helpful. They can learn to see the world from the perspective of others. More importantly, they can learn to see the world from God’s perspective.
Critical thinking skills require being able to see the world from multiple view points. Is an argument truly valid, or just valid from your personal viewpoint? Further more, how does each viewpoint stack up against God’s principles and commands?
It is crucial that you regularly ask the thought question, “Would everyone agree with what you just said from their perspective?” Don’t forget to ask the follow up question, “Why might they see things differently?” Most importantly end with, “What is God’s perspective on this?”
Make them provide evidence, especially when they are claiming something is congruent with God’s will. Is it really, or are they only picking out verses and examples that appear to agree with them? Are they unaware of or ignoring other verses that might lend a different interpretation – especially if taken in context?
When helping students through these exercises, it is important to be aware of your own tendency towards egocentricity. It’s part of the human condition, which is probably why God addresses it so many times in scripture. Don’t be guilty of ignoring the existence of other viewpoints – even if they prove to ultimately be ungodly. Be especially careful of attributing opinions to God in areas in which God is entirely silent.
Sometimes a difference of opinion is just a difference of opinion. You can have mostly green clothes in your closet, while I prefer to wear mostly red. Neither of us is right or wrong. But on issues that matter to God, we need to be quite sure we are following God’s will and not forcing our will on Him. And we need to help our Bible students learn to take the focus off of themselves as well. It’s important if they are ever to reach their godly potential.