There’s some mental discipline that’s required for serving others unselfishly.
It’s kind of like when you are laying there at night, and you are so hot, and your wife is cold and she doesn’t like the window open, and you are laying there, and you want to be kind, but you are sweating, there’s a mental war going on in there.
Obviously, serving others, is supposed to be a joy. This is a good thing to serve our wives, but so often, it isn’t a joy, because these selfish thoughts creep in. Even sometimes, we start off with wanting to serve, and then we go and, it gets hard, and these selfish thoughts start coming in, and that’s when you really have to grab hold of your thoughts, that’s where the mental discipline comes in, and I’ve found a very helpful way to grab hold of your thoughts, is actually right at the beginning, before you even get going, just changing your expectations.
I mean you have to ask yourself, when you start complaining about being unselfish, and serving, what did you expect?
I love the title of that book on marriage, ‘What did you expect?’
We followed a crucified savior. When did we ever expect that following him would be comfortable. If you look at the images he gives us of greatness in the gospel, it’s a slave, that’s not a comfortable life, and yet we complain when it starts to get difficult, and we have to ask ourselves, wait, what you were expecting?
And practically, I have found it so helpful to change your expectations at the beginning.
It’s like when you live in a foreign country.
I know, when we first moved to South Africa, going to home affairs or something, and expecting it to get done right away, and I would go away so disappointed, but, now, I go expecting to have to go back two or three times, and so it’s not nearly the challenge, to have a good attitude, because I am ready for it.
And it’s the same with being unselfish and serving others.
From the beginning it helps to expect to go last. When our family dishes up food, nine children, and we’ve got some kids that are really slow, and I am fast, so in the beginning, I am like, how can this take so long, and yet now, I just, well they sometimes let me go first, but when we don’t, I just know, to go take a walk around the living room or something.
Expect to go last, expect not to be thanked. In some cultures, there’s not much thanking going on, which is kind of selfishness honestly, and that’s a skill to develop, appreciating what other people are doing for you, but when you are the one doing, it helps to do it for God, and expect that people won’t think you are doing much for them.
We really learned this back in the beginning, with fostering Muzi. Muzi, is disabled, and he was on this medicine that made him have diarrhea, and so much, that a diaper couldn’t contain it, and so every morning, we would wake up and walk down the hall, and if you opened his door, this smell would attack you, and there would be stuff everywhere, and Marda was the one who cleaned that up, and, washed him off, which he hated, and he would scream because he hated water, and anyway, that was so hard at first, but then Marda realized, she was going to bed, hoping not to have to do that in the morning, and every morning she was disappointed, so what she did, she changed her expectations, and just expected to have to do it, and as a result was able to begin doing it with so much joy.
How do grow in the skill of unselfishness as a believing husband?
One, assume you need to grow.
Two, get some help evaluating where you need to grow.
Three, start doing things that require you to be unselfish. Pursue it.
And four, adjust your expectations to be in line with Jesus’ call on your life.