Most people believe they are above average at almost everything. Psychologists call this the state of “illusory superiority”. It is also called “The Lake Wobegone Effect”, from Garrison Keillor’s fictional Minnesota town where “all the children are above average.” It simply means that we tend to inflate our positive qualities and abilities, especially in comparison to other people.
Numerous research studies have revealed this tendency to overestimate ourselves. For instance, when researchers asked a million high school students how well they got along with their peers, none of the students rated themselves below average. As a matter of fact, 60 percent of students believed they were in the top 10 percent, and 25 percent rated themselves in the top one percent.
You would think college professors might have more self-insight, but they were just as biased about their abilities. Two percent rated themselves below average, 10 percent were average, and 63 percent were above average, while 25 percent rated themselves as truly exceptional.
Of course this is statistically impossible. One researcher summarized the data this way: “It’s the great contradiction: the average person believes he is a better person than the average person.” Christian psychologist Mark McMinn contends that the “Lake Wobegone Effect” reveals our pride. He writes, “One of the clearest conclusions of social science research is that we are proud. We think better of ourselves than we really are, we see our faults in faint black and white rather than in vivid color, and we assume the worst in others while assuming the best in ourselves.”
Most people in Jesus’ day assumed the best in themselves. They believed that they were pretty good people and that they were doing a good job following the rules that would make them citizens of the kingdom of God. That is why the religious leaders were so upset that Jesus opposed their interpretation of the rules. Jesus taught that pride – thinking of ourselves better than we really are, seeing our faults in faint black and white rather than in vivid color, and assuming the worst in others while assuming the best in ourselves – was a real stumbling block to entering the kingdom of God. Instead, Jesus insisted upon the necessity of humility to enter the kingdom of God. This is what he taught in the parable of the wedding feast.
Luke 14:7-11 teaches us the necessity of humility.
Outline of Luke 14:7-11
1. The Prelude to the Parable (14:7)
2. The Protocol in the Parable (14:8-10)
3. The Point of the Parable (14:11)