Recently, someone in my microchurch admitted they were selfish and didn’t know how to break out of it. Selfishness is more widespread than we believe…
Selfishness not only shows up in things like materialism and busyness. It shows up when we have problems of our own to deal with. All of us have our own emotional, mental, physical, relational, financial, and other types of junk that we deal with–the problems in life that result in worry, stress, anxiety, depression, etc. Our problems often lead to selfishness. Before you go all postal on me, follow me here…
Our problems are real. We all have things that we’re dealing with. Some are more serious than others. The tragic, unexpected death of a close family member or friend is a serious problem that has relational, emotional, mental, and often financial repercussions. It certainly ranks higher on the stress-o-meter than, say, a flat tire. We all have problems, some more serious than others. But problems can reveal different facets of selfishness.
- We think we have it worse than everyone else. All of us have that “draining” person in our life–that someone who can talk of nothing else than how bad they have it. Are their problems real? Often they are. But do they have it worse than everyone else? Chances are, no way. Maybe it is someone who’s always complaining about being broke. Do they have money problems? Probably… but often it is a result of stupid choices. Sometimes, the unexpected comes up–the transmission drops on the freeway, a huge medical expense, etc. The problems are real… but many times the perspective is skewed. The fact is that there are others who have it worse. When we focus on our own problems, we put on blinders to the situations of others.
- We try to handle it ourselves. I’m so over-the-top guilty on this one. I try to handle my problems and my pain on my own. I often get so wrapped up in it that I lose perspective. I suspect that many are like this. We’re like Elijah–a dude in the Old Testament part of the Bible who was drop-dead convinced that he was the only person who loved God… and God showed him otherwise. When we try to handle our pain on our own, we forget that God wired us for community and relationships. We end up shutting other people out, and rob them of opportunities to serve.
- We ignore them or try to bury them. So many people walk into churches on Sunday mornings with a big smile, a happy face, and with happy families… and it’s a lie. They’re not happy. They’re stressed, angry, upset, depressed, broken, etc. When we put up that front, it’s another facet of selfishness that is so deep-rooted that it goes beyond not asking for help. It says, “I really have no need of help at all.”
God can use our pain and problems to serve others and bring glory to Jesus. But to do it, we have to open up about them, be honest about them, and seek out help when needed (whether its just someone to listen or professional help). Our pain–our weaknesses–are often our greatest channel to pour out the love of Jesus to others.
Leave some feedback: how do you honestly react to your problems–do you think you have it worse than others, do you try to handle it yourself, do you ignore them, something else? What will it take for you to get to the point where you allow God to use your pain to serve others?
Tomorrow, we’ll do an “intermission” of sorts, and hit up some practical ways that we can combat selfishness in our lives and be transformed into a selfless community that serves the world.