Institutes That Promote Self-Love

By Stephen R. Phinney

Students, faculty and staff seek training, or help, because of a felt need in the functioning of his/her life. LIFE-STYLE is determined by that in which one finds meaning, and MEANING is determined by one’s basic IDENTITY. Thus, the disciple’s identity focuses on personal ability, intelligence, schooling, appearance, possessions, heritage, accomplishments, self-achieved goodness – or whatever is seen to be the fundamental error. I call this GODSHIP (playing god) – mankind viewing himself as the center of his own world, and living life as though he/she were his/her own god. Because everything in life must please or satisfy or benefit SELF, one’s contribution to other people’s lives cannot be genuinely selfless or truly committed to their best good. In short the person “falls in love” with themselves.

Christ-Centered Disciplers

The discipler’s primary IDENTITY, centered in Jesus Christ, determines his/her meaning in life. That in which they find MEANING, as a person, will shape his/her LIFE-STYLE. Out of their life in Christ they give COUNSEL to another. The crucial multiplication process is put into motion as the disciple is moved, on the basis of their own IDENTITY in Christ, to see changes brought about in his/her own life-patterns manifested through the indwelling life of Christ. Out of this, the disciple now is able to SERVE OTHERS. (See diagram D-106)

Institutions Promoting Christ-Centered

It should be apparent by now that the focus on the type of discipleship promoted within a learning institution affects every aspect of student-life. In fact, I believe that the discipleship program that the school inherits, or lacks, will determine the level of honesty of the “Christian” institution’s claims. It is estimated that over 76% of all “Christian Colleges” that claim to be “Christ-Centered” actually are not! They tend to use the title to draw “Christian” recruits for financial stability – which in the end proves itself to be emergent (lukewarm). Within those same institutions, it is estimated that about 60% claim to be “Christian,” while in reality only 20% claim to have had a “born-again” experience. Needless to say – our “Christian” learning institutes are in trouble.

I believe that the pivotal positions within Christian learning institutions are those directly connected to the Discipleship & Student Life programs. Since academia flows (follows) from the school’s identity, the focus needs to be on strengthening the IDENTITY of the school. The best place to start is in the student life programs. Here is the order I promote and suggest:

1. Change or enhance the school’s identity to “Christ in You.”

2. Pick your leader(s) who will train and maintain training.

3. Strengthen the Christ Identity of the schools Disciplers, which will determine lifestyle both CHOICES on and off campus. Life-style always offers a type of COUNSEL based upon personal victory, or lack of it. This truth determines the version of “Christianity” passed down to the followers/disciple.

4. Considering that the identity now is the Life of Christ, the CORPORATE identity becomes known for being truly Christ-Centered by experience. This will automatically draw RECRUITS that are seeking a “Christ-centered” institution that lives out their stated mission statement. (see diagram D-107)

Affect on Christ-Centered Education

To many learning institutes, education equals transformation. In God’s reality, it does the exact opposite – it promotes self and shrinks true faith – unless it flows from a truthful Christ-centered model. For this reason, the student life discipleship program should be in the forefront of all campus activities. It should be strategic, not because the programs disciplers are the ultimate model of spiritual living, but to give the school the opportunity to see firsthand, the depth of the discipler’s lifestyle and walk with God.

Corporate Christ-Centered Instruction

“You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers; just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father (discipler) would do his own children, so that you many walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into Hs own kingdom and glory.” I Thess. 2:10-12

Obviously, the things to which the apostle refers were not limited to formal teaching situations – as in higher learning. They included daily exposure to the various stresses he experienced in his life and ministry. I believe this is the idea of integrating the Christ-Centered model into higher education.

If the learning institution claims to be a Christ-Centered school of thought, it should support itself in all branches of established education and training. (See diagram D-108)

It is agreed that it is next to impossible to restore a well established institution of learning back to a Christ-Centered model. But, it is possible to restore the hearts and minds of faculty, staff and students to a view that focuses on identity in Christ – which will ultimately change the institution. This can be accomplished through a well thought out Discipleship plan. This plan would equip individuals for the purpose of building up the Body of Christ, assist in empowering men & women to have a greater impact on the communities they serve, and would place a foundational emphasis on IDENTITY in Christ.

In Conclusion:

The Discipleship & Student Life is designed to provide the Discipler with teaching materials and training for use in the discipling process. Diagrams are used in the program for the sole purpose of assisting others in spiritual growth.

The tools are used in applying God's truth to one's individual life, as well as the discipleship process of others. The diagrams are graphic expressions of scriptural truths. They illustrate in some instances, how man got into his present state in regard to a given area of life; they picture, in other cases, what God has done and is doing on man's behalf; they show the progressive steps man must take to be obedient to God. In still other instances, they convey practical truth by depicting definitions of such terms as faith, obedience, love, repentance, forgiveness, etc.

These concepts have come out of the Biblical-discipleship process embraced through IOM AMERICA and Grace Fellowship International. The concepts deal with all areas of life and point up the truth that God's Word has instruction for us in every area in which we find ourselves and every condition that we experience.

The Discipleship & Student Life plan and proposal is devoted to Biblical/Christ-centered teachings. With it carries a love and passion for preserving the next generation with God’s absolutes. If you are interested in further dialog regarding these “highlights” – call: 602-292-2985 or e-mail: