Men, we must work at becoming unselfish.
It’s a command.
It’s a skill.
How can you become less selfish?
First you have to think about how you can become more unselfish. Specifically you need to evaluate your life. What am I not doing? What should I be doing?
So, obviously as I think about my life, there are things I need to stop.But don’t assume just because you don’t do a lot of selfish things, that you are not selfish. Becoming unselfish is not just, not loving myself so much, it’s also loving others better.
Some guys don’t feel selfish because they don’t love themselves that much. The problem is though, some guys, just lack love in general. Maybe, they don’t have strong passions for themselves, but they don’t have much love for anyone else either.
In a series of sermons on 1 Corinthians 13, Jonathan Edwards gives an interesting insight.
He talks about a servant in a home. And the master of that home grows old and weak. The result is that even though the servant isn’t unusually strong himself, because the master is weak, the servant has more power. And there are some people whose love for others is weak and so the love of self, even if it’s not unusually strong, still dominates their life because they are lacking in love for other people.
“By virtue of the fact,” he says, “they don’t have much love, self love, even though it is not really stronger than anybody else’s, really comes out and exerts dominance.”
In our home that can be a big issue. Not so much that I don’t have a lot of self love, I’ve got a lot of that. But instead, it’s easy for me to think, that, because I am trying to be a nice guy, I can sit back, and it’s enough, I’ve been unselfish, and that’s especially tempting, when you have a nice wife.
For example, we’ve had a lot of kids, which means a lot diapers, and I don’t want to say, how few of those diapers, I actually changed. I could really make myself look bad.
Now, Marda really enjoyed serving, and that’s great. But a couple of years ago she got cancer. And it sounds strange, but one thing I was grateful for, was that her cancer gave me the opportunity to develop some new habits. And I wanted to take advantage of it, because it slowed her down a step. She’s so quick and I am slow, so usually by the time I realized something needed to be done, she did it, and cancer gave me the opportunity to get back in the game and enabled me to work on being more proactive, and that’s the key. That’s what I am talking about. Think about being proactive.
I know, Marda is really good at looking around and finding things to do for me. It always cracks me up, going down to bed, at night, because it takes her so long. I’ll be standing there in the kitchen, looking, looking, and I can’t find anything more to do, and she’s still going, and I am like how does she do that? She’s learned the skill of noticing what needs to be done. And that’s the skill we need to work on as well if we are going to become more unselfish.
We can’t just sit back and think, I am not doing anything unselfish, we need to step up and think, how can I act, for the good of others.
And that’s second. First think. Then second, act. DO something.
If you are going to learn to be moreunselfish, put yourself in situations where you have to learn to be unselfish.
It’s like, any time you want to learn a new language, what’s the best way, it’s to be in a situation where you have to use that language. It’s hard to learn a language, just sitting in your office, you can, but it’s hard, you got to get out and speak.
And there’s something similar going on with learning to be unselfish. Obviously, again, first you’ve got to have the desire to truly be loving and unselfish. Otherwise you aren’t going anywhere. But, at the same time, you can want it, and yet, it is still harder for you to learn it if you are not in situations where you need to practice it.
It’s kind of like, we’ve all been around guys who have been single for forever, and when they get married, they have some serious challenges, because they haven’t had to think of anyone else. Or even you know kids that grow up as the only child. It’s not totally their fault, but they haven’t always learned the skill of sharing. And in a similar way, a lot of pastors don’t have to develop the skill of being very unselfish, if you look at the way their lives are set up.
They sit in office, most of the time. And they set up family to revolve around them, some guys. And then, at least where I am, in the culture in Africa, it’s set up to honor them.
So if you are going to get better at being unselfish, you’ve kind of got to disrupt the flow. That’s part of why I like having nine children. I sometimes say, I have to learn to be unselfish or die. Those are like my only two options. This is no big deal for people from Africa, but I used to like soda. And yet, I found out, when you have so many children, you get soda, and it’s gone. One liter, one day, less, and not everybody gets some, and so, I had to stop drinking soda, and really before I buy any drink, I have to think, am I willing to buy enough for 10 more people? Fortunately none of my kids like sparkling water, soda water, and so I started liking that, I don’t even like that that much, but I can buy it and know it will be in the fridge for a while.
But, obviously having a big family isn’t the answer, to automatically becoming more unselfish, because we all know, big families where that’s not happening. But I am just saying, if you want to learn to be unselfish, it really helps to put yourself in situations where you are forced to learn it.
Personally, I am grateful to be in a church that’s multi-cultural, and also multi-social class, for this reason because to have real relationships, you are constantly having to think differently.
It’s like, when I want to visit someone in the hospital, I can’t just drive over there and drive home, there are other people visiting there, who don’t have cars, and so I have to learn to think, who can I drive, and where I can drive them.
Or when we are having conversations, I can’t just talk about what I like to talk about, or else it won’t be a very long conversation, I have to figure out what do they like to talk about, and try to be interested in that.
But, that’s not the only way to put yourself out there so you can learn to be unselfish.
Radical hospitality is a big part of this.
Opening up your home is a great way to be forced to be unselfish.
We’ve had strangers living in our house with us, most of the time, we’ve been in South Africa, probably most of our marriage, and it’s a great way to be forced to think about unselfishness. For example, I remember we had set up this whole part of our home, as a little study for Marda, and she was going to start preparing ladies Bible studies when this one guy moved in with us, and he, thought that was the best place for checking his internet, and man he would be there for hours, and what a challenge you know, just something that simple. It’s not just annoying to have someone make your life a little less comfortable, it’s an opportunity! If you are going to learn the skill of unselfishness, you need to evaluate your life and identify where you need to grow and one of the best ways to do that is to take specific action and put yourself in situations where you are forced to be unselfish.