We don’t grow in many areas without spending some time thinking about how we can grow in those areas.
And so if you read commands like Romans 13:9, “let love be genuine…” you have to think about, is my love genuine? Or, verse 10, “outdo one another in showing honor…” you have to think about, how can I better show someone else honor?
We have to think if we are going to grow.
But the problem with selfishness and pride of course, is that selfishness keeps you from wanting to think about how you need to grow, and pride, causes you to think you don’t need to grow.
This is where a lot of application breakdown happens. We start with the assumption, I am probably right. And so we don’t even take the time to think. I am not sure we always appreciate how pro-us we are. You know? And what I mean is, I am pro-me and you are pro-you.
We come out of the womb, rooting for ourselves.
And so the result is, most of us tend to be a little delusional, honestly about how good we are at things. And because we love ourselves so much, the smallest little sacrifice we make, we often think about as something huge. And I guess, because we love others so little, we often don’t notice the sacrifices they make for us.
I remember there was a guy coming to church who committed a seriously violent crime. And it turns out he didn’t ever really repent, but he did go to prison. Then he got out. And there was someone in our church who let him live in their home. Yet, over time, it was obvious, this guy who murdered his own mom, was still so proud of himself. He was constantly criticizing the guy who was letting him live in his home. He still had so many opinions. He was delusional, in terms of his view of himself. I remember, I posted a quote somewhere from some best-selling author, and he wrote me a note later correcting the grammar of this New York Times best selling author, and I am like wow. And while he’s an extreme example, the reality is, it’s not just him.
We often have an image of ourselves that doesn’t match up to reality.
It’s kind of like me and running. I have this picture in my mind of what I look like when I run. And yet, whenever I run a race I am shocked as I keep getting passed by these people that are almost walking. And I think to myself, how is that even possibly, physically, for them to pass me going so slow, when I am running this fast?
My picture of myself doesn’t always match up with reality.
Which I think is pretty common.
Not just in sports, in life. For all of us.
And yet the real problem is, when people don’t recognize that they have such a strong pull towards seeing themselves inaccurately.
That’s when it gets scary.
It is one thing to be delusional.
It’s another to be delusional and not know it.
So, personally, knowing how important it is to be unselfish, and the fact I have to really think about becoming unselfish, which is hard, because I have this distorted view of myself, I try to make it, my default, assumption that I need to grow.
And that’s important, because you are not going to drift towards being more unselfish.
You have to live in drive, not neutral.
You need to pursue it.
And if you are going to see where you need to grow, so that you can pursue it, you are going to need help, seeing where you need to grow, actually.
It is good for me to sit there and think how do I need to grow. But if I am just sitting there by myself, I probably am not going to get it. So you want to have this mindset, where you are trying to take advantage of all the helps you can get, seeing your unselfishness, so that you can grow.
Obviously one of the first helps you can get is your wife and kids.
Ask your wife for help.
I ask at least once a month.
How can I serve you better?
But honestly, she’s not always the best help.
Every wife is different. But, personally, if I waited around for my wife to tell me I was being unselfish, it would be a long wait. Marda is the kind of person, I say you mind picking up that house, and she is like ok, sounds good.
And even if your wife is not like that, she married you.
So she’s pretty pro-you as well. There are a lot of men who think they are doing fine, because their wife likes them, but it’s like, that’s one of the lowest evaluations. It should be pretty easy to get your wife to like you, she married you, and so if she doesn’t like you, you need some help getting to the first step, but don’t stop once you get to that step, because there’s probably more work to do.
Maybe more helpful, is to watch your kids.
How do they respond when they have to do something they don’t want to do?
I remember when we first started fostering children, people were like, is this hard for your kids, and we were like wow, you know, that’s not even a thought, is this hard for your kids, and they didn’t talk like that either, and I think maybe part of that is because they were girls and they were cute, but I think another reason is because they were watching their mom’s attitude, and listening, and their mom, just doesn’t complain, and so that way of speaking, isn’t like an option.
If you are going to become more unselfish, it starts with thinking about it, but get help thinking about it, from your family, and then, I’d encourage you to work on becoming more self-aware. And I am not sure that’s the best way to put it, but you know how there are those guys in the grocery store, as you are walking down an aisle, that will just basically run you over. There’s like a whole aisle, you are trying to get to the edge, and they don’t even seem to see you. I am always like, how can you not notice that person, but some guys just don’t seem to see the people around them. They are not easily aware of what’s going on in their environment.
And some people like that with their families. You know the dad who is standing there talking with you, while his kids are like jumping off the ceiling, or beating each other on the floor, and he’s talking to you, about the doctrine of election, and the funny thing is, you know they agree with you about discipline, so that’s not the issue, they would, discipline their children, the issue is they don’t notice, and yet again, you are like, how is it possible you don’t notice that? And my point is, I think you have to work on noticing, opportunities for loving others well, and for being unselfish, you have to work on become aware of the opportunities, you might be missing. Like, they are right in front of you, but you don’t even see them, because you are not aware.
And, you do that obviously through prayer and Bible study.
But you also can do that by watching people who are unselfish, what do they do, what do they say?
Making a habit out of asking others, how can I serve you better?
Though the problem with asking that of unselfish people is that they don’t usually have anything that comes to mind, because they aren’t thinking of themselves, but at least you can ask it.
Another big help is to take advantages of situations where you are bothered, that’s a good way to see how you can grow, ask yourself, why am I bothered? We’ve got a kid who chews so loudly, it’s crazy, and it’s physical, he’s disabled, so it’s not something he can change, but wow, that can be so annoying, and yet why does it bother me, it’s a noise. It bothers me because I love myself so much I want to be able to have a meal with nothing that sounds funny anywhere near me. And what is that? That’s pure selfishness. I might think I am a great guy, but that’s a deep love of self, and it is something I need to repent of and forsake, if I am going to love my family the way God calls me to.
If we are going to become more unselfish, we need to think about it and if we are going to think about it, we have to get some help from others.