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Sunday, January 07, 2007

I want to go there, but can I do it?

One of my good friends, Dave, who is a director for a YWAM wilderness experiential education base, challenged me to look at my interests in secular psychology and find avenues that I think bridge over into Christian concepts. I have long believed that understanding how God made us is very important to understanding the importance of our pursuit of Him. I realize that in many camps it is an either or argument between the two; psychology Vs Christianity. I think that they are intertwined. So I will attempt to find a bridge here. Please give me some grace and feedback would be welcomed. I do not present this as an absolute, only as a possible bridge.

I was doing some recreational studying about Self-Efficacy and came across an interesting article that was published by the American Psychological Association, Inc in the Journal of personality and social Psychology, 1983, Vol, 45, No. 5, 1017-1028, Titled; Self-Evaluative and Self-Efficacy Mechanisms Governing the Motivational Effects of Goal Systems, By Albert Bandura and Daniel Cervone; (http://www.psy.lmu.de/ape/Lehrmaterialien/Mueller/mainColumnParagraphs/06/document/
)(retrieved 01-06-06)

In a nut shell, These guys did a study to find out how feedback effects our self efficacy perceptions and how those perceptions can activate our desires to achieve various levels of performance. In other words, If we think we are doing good in something (self-evaluation) and we think we have the ability to achieve that something (Self efficacy) and we can acquire in one form or fashion a measure of our performance (feedback) we tend to increase or decrease our efforts in achieving that something (self-reactive mechanism). At least that is my take on the wordy 11 page document that was written while I was still popping pimples in my teen years. If I was to try and make some mathematical formula to expressed this concept it may look like this;

Actual Personal Performance =(Self evaluation of ability+Self evaluation of perceived performance)+/-(feedback)+(desired performance standards).

In rock jock terms, let's say I want to climb a 5.13 (desired performance standards). I think I can do it because I wear cool Lycra tights (self evaluation of ability), so I rope up and start to climb this monster. After a few wingers, I start to think to myself "maybe I am not ready for this beasty (self-evaluation of perceived performance). After a few falls my climbing partner starts to encourage me, telling me that everyone falls there and that I am doing great (feedback). So I dig deeper and push harder and make it past the crux and to the next belay(Actual personal performance). As you can see each element is very important to the actual attainment of the goal.

Now let's compare it to a Jesus Jock? I want to go to haven and experience eternal life (desired performance standard). I think this is possible because I do as John 3:16 says and other bible standards express (self evaluation of ability). However, I continue to sin and struggle and start to think that maybe I am doing something wrong(self-evaluation of perceived performance). Due to my struggles, I go to another Jesus Jock and seek some guidance The second Jesus Jock says well dude you are from a different kind of church, or theology, and I am not even sure your really saved (feedback). Now my self evaluation of performance is really sucking wind. I look at the whole eternal life goal and begin to think that I can never attain it. So what do I do. I create an out, an excuse, something like it was an unrealistic goal to start with, or I am not good enough to get there, and so on. My effort to attain the goal beings to diminish.

I think Jesus went to great strides to teach us how valued we are for a reason. To give us a belief in our ability to follow him. I think the Bible is a part of a mechanism to help us with our self evaluation of performance. I think the church is supposed to provide positive and constructive feedback to all. I also think that many, if not all, are in need of so much feedback that we tend to destroy others abilities to continue on with the struggle of goal attainment. I think we desperately need the "Teacher" to come back and give us a refresher course on how to tenderly encourage and care for each other. This perception of mine comes at a time when I have possible the strongest goal attainment drive ever. I realize that attaining the goal is not an individual sport. I am called to get the whole team there if I can. Finishing a route by yourself is only attaining half of the original goal standard. I honestly think that much of our high end theology is destroying the church body as a whole. Yes, some among us should and need to know it. But it should be to bring the body together not divide it. How many Christian denominations do we have now? I do not need to know the mechanical specs of a cam. I need to know that it will hold when I fall on it. I will place it where I need it and take risks based off of my faith that it will work.

What do yo think about all of this?


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