Just when I think I’m becoming more like Jesus, selfishness creeps in and I find myself looking out for #1. My wants. My wishes. My needs. My, my, my, how easy it is to focus on me.
Maybe you’ve noticed that in your life as well.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit” (Philippians 2:3). Paul wasn’t saying, “Don’t have boundaries.” We need boundaries to be spiritually and emotionally healthy. Jesus modeled boundaries. He knew He needed time with the Father. He didn’t heal everyone. He slept, ate and exercised. (He walked everywhere!) In light of boundaries, what did Paul mean? I believe Paul felt we needed to shift our focus. We need to consider, “How can I benefit another person?”
I recently heard, John Maxwell speak. One of the things he said struck me deeply, “Selfishness and significance are incompatible.” As I’ve been mulling that over I realize the truth behind that statement. Just as money is fairly meaningless unless you give it away, your life often feels meaningless until you invest it in another. In light of that we need to spend our lives wisely, investing in others.
What does that look like for you and I this week? How do we uproot selfishness in favor of significance? I have a few thoughts:
- Embrace inconvenience. Often investing in another person feels inconvenient at the time. To truly invest in your marriage, your family, your friendships, and others, you will be inconvenienced. Instead of complaining, try praising God for the opportunity to invest in another. When you feel hesitant to go the extra mile on behalf of another, do it anyway. Ask God to pour encouragement and hope through you.
- Confess quickly. When you feel annoyed or inconvenienced, confess your attitude to the Lord. To live significantly, we must let go of being easily annoyed. (I Corinthians 13:5) Confess quickly and do the right thing. Take the step that feels so annoying and do it because you want to live like Jesus. Slowly, if you do this enough, your attitude will change.
- Live Generously. God loves a generous heart. So give generously of your time, money, encouragement and friendship. Don’t hold back. Don’t focus as much on conserving as you do on giving. To be a good steward of your resources means you will live generously. The people who live the most significantly are those who live the most generously.
Friend, as long as we’re alive we’re going to be tempted towards selfishness. But, what if you and I make it our goal this week to reject selfishness in favor of significance? What if we seek to embrace inconvenience as an opportunity to invest in the life of another? What if this week, rather than nurturing an annoyed spirit we confessed that and let go of it? What if we live generously with our time, money, encouragement and friendship? I’m guessing that we would live one of the most significant weeks ever. Wanna join me?
How have you shifted your focus from selfishness to significance?