DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Are We Too Late?

Written by: on May 17, 2019

Last week, my office mobilized and launched 20 of 28 teams serving this summer around the world. One team was missing a member. She decided about 7 days prior to her trip departure that she no longer “felt called” to go. While the student leaders had been having conversations with the team member about her lack of communication, she never told us she was considering not going. Until she didn’t show up for commissioning. And then last week, once she got the bill and her student account put on hold, her mom stepped in and ever so kindly told me that she “felt unsafe about going and has been telling the leaders forever”.


In their book, The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, the authors give clear and direct correlations to how three “Great Untruths”[1] have set up not just students, but the universities they attend, for significant challenges. In my work with college students (and their parents half the time), I would agree with Haidt and Lukianoff that today’s students are much more fragile than those in previous generations.[2] This student I mentioned was going to a very safe, westernized country in central Europe. The student refused to take ownership for her decision to no longer participate in this experience, and instead blamed both her Christian “calling” and her feelings of being unsafe. I wonder if this student had seen herself as fragile, and conditioned herself to believe that she could not handle this experience, which ended up being a self-fulfilling prophecy that her mother then had to rescue her from?[3] And in this particular instance, her mother is fighting on behalf of her daughter to get out of the financial commitment that the daughter willingly entered into to the tune of $1,400 and change. In this situation, is the students mother going too far to protect her daughter from the negative consequences of her decision, which then decreases her daughters ability to develop grit in order to become a strong and resilient adult?[4]


As both a parent and a University educator, I take very seriously the charges in this book. I find deep resonance with the ideas of rejecting the untruths of fragility, emotional reasoning, and us vs. them thinking.[5] I have seen how these great untruths have harmed students and have set them up for more challenges in college, as well as in their future vocations. I just hope we’re not too late.



[1] Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, (New York, NY.: Penguin Press, 2018), 4.

[2] Ibid., 7.

[3] Ibid., 8.

[4] Ibid., 176.

[5] Ibid., 259.


About the Author


Karen Rouggly

Karen Rouggly is the Director for Mobilization in the Center for Student Action at Azusa Pacific University. She develops transformational experiences for students serving locally, nationally, and internationally. She completed an MA in Intercultural Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary and is passionate about community development, transformational service and helping students understand vocation and service. Karen is also an active member at the Vineyard Church Glendora where she is a small group leader and serves on the teaching team. She is also a mom to two sweet boys, wife to an amazing guy, and loves being a friend to many.

7 responses to “Are We Too Late?”

  1. mm Rhonda Davis says:

    Amen, Karen. Kudos to you for engaging these important questions. Your students will be better because of your work.

  2. Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your up-close perspective as a leader of this generations’ university students. As your example substantiates, you have very real experiences in dealing with both students and their parents. In your experience, what percentage of students (and their parents) buy into the authors’ stated untruths? From your experience as a university leader, what is your takeaway as a parent? Thanks again in sharing your experiences!

  3. Mario Hood says:

    I’ve been looking forward to the post of those of you in Higher Ed as it relates to this book. I only have to deal with students on the Spiritual level and when you mix in money… people always get funny! I think you have pointed out a lot of key things in this circumstance and my prayer is this isn’t the norm for this girl/parent or her future is setting her up for a big disappointment. Knowing this info now, how does this change the way you might engage with students going forward? Great post!

  4. mm Tammy Dunahoo says:

    Excellent, Karen. Antifragility may need to become core curriculum in universities very soon. You choose some very important words, “grit”and “resilience” and these are such vital characteristics for people who finish well.

  5. mm Mary Mims says:

    Karen, it may be a bit late as you say because I see it with the entry-level employees that I train. I can never understand how they do not have humility and cannot admit mistakes when they do not understand something. I have heard of some having their parents call the job. Not many, but a few. I did not understand where this is coming from, now I see it is a real trend. I hope it can be reversed.

  6. mm Sean Dean says:

    I don’t understand this parent (or parents like her). My kids at 8 and 11 already know that dropping out like this would never fly. How do you allow your (now adult) child to drop the ball like this? This situation hurts my head. How do you help students to move past something that you’re interacting with pretty late in the game? I apologize, I don’t have a cogent thought for you, I’m brimming with questions and annoyance. This real experience is helpful as I think through parenting and leadership in general. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Thank you Karen for sharing your real life experience with the student and parent. In my context we work with children from vulnerable communities whose lives are full of challenges and it’s interesting how responsible they become when they get the opportunity to study in our Christian schools. I am challenged personally to look at our programs in our schools to ensure that we are not coddling their minds and setting them up for failure. The biggest challenge that we have is normally with the patents not taking responsibility to contribute towards the education of their children because of an entitlement mentality that they’re poor and should not be made to pay. I love Tammy’s suggestion that Antiflagility should be part of the curriculum.

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