I was sitting quietly in church on Sunday, writing down the prayer requests being shared, when my friend Mandy came to the mike. Mandy began to talk about our two-person Bible study and glanced at me for “permission” (after she’d already said my name). I gulped and gave a shrugging nod; it was a little late now.
“We realize we have a problem with selfishness,” Mandy said. She went on to ask for prayer for herself (and me!) that we would allow God to combat our selfishness so we make choices that serve God.
If you’ve ever heard me speak, you know I am a pretty transparent person. But there’s something about hearing someone else announce your selfishness to the entire congregation your husband pastors that’s hard to swallow. It’s humbling.
Mandy had sent me an e-mail earlier in the week: “In order for us to give up our veil of selfishness, I think we should both ’empty our glasses’ of selfishness each evening and each morning…and as often in-between as we can! That will help us stay focused not on ourselves, but God and others…and will help us not make so many choices based on selfishness/comfort/Americanisms.”
As I sat in church, listening to Mandy tell people I was selfish and needed prayer, I struggled to “empty my glass” of pride, which is its own form of selfishness. Afterwards, I teased Mandy about “outing” me. She knew I was mostly okay with it, as embarrassing as it was.
Because, she’s right.
I am selfish. I do make too many decisions based on my own comfort. I am Americanized and think I have the unalienable right to “the pursuit of happiness,” my happiness.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” John 12:24–26
I don’t really like the idea of dying, to my desires, to my wants, to my comfort, or to myself. But if I want my life to count for something other than my limited paltry life, I need to die to self. If I want a life with purpose, I need to serve God.
So if you pray, feel free to pray with Mandy and the rest of my congregation that I’ll empty myself of selfishness every day, as often as needed.
And if you happen to be as selfish as I am and want me to pray for you, feel free to let me know. I’ll pray for you as well.
And I promise not to out you!