Okay, guys, I have a confession to make: I’m a selfish person. It’s not something I’m proud of, and I am not writing this post to get sympathy. God laid my selfishness on my heart a few weeks ago, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
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Some of you that know me, might be thinking I’m not that bad. Especially compared to some. Others are probably thinking, “It’s about time you figured it out!” If we’ve never met in person, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. Don’t worry, you will soon haha…
Looking Good on the Outside
On the outside, I may look pretty good. I care for my family. I volunteer at church. We tithe and donate. I help my friends. I’ve been teaching elementary school for 23 years. Heck, I even write a blog with the single purpose of helping people live better lives! But none of that really matters. What matters is the selfishness in my heart.
Have you ever found yourself being selfish about the most stupid things? This girl right here does it all the time. The other day, I got aggravated because the songs I had to lead at our church kids’ program were two of my least favorites. I was so annoyed that I barely wanted to sing or do the moves and forget about smiling and having fun with the kids. There was no WAY I was going to do that with this stinky music selection!
After all, worship music isn’t about worshipping Jesus, is it? And there’s no way it could be about the kids and helping them have fun while at church. Apparently, in Christy’s world, it’s all about ME!
Reflecting On My Attitude
Looking back a few days later, I could easily see how stupid I was being. I was so self-absorbed that I missed out on some awesome moments with some great kids! Not only that, but I also spent large chunks of that same day rethinking and rehashing having to sing those blah songs. I ruined a perfectly good day with my selfishness.
When we focus so much on ourselves, and not on the others around us, we tend to become very selfish people. There are psychological studies showing a link between depression and high rates of self-centeredness. I’m pretty quick to notice this trait in other people but terrible about seeing selfishness in myself.
Now, before anyone gets mad, I’m not talking about clinical depression, nor do I mean to discourage anyone from getting the medical help they need! I’ve been on antidepressants a few different times, so I know how it feels to be sad and not be able to fix it. But, I also know that during my most trying and sad times, my outlook will drastically improve when I begin thinking of ways to help others. If I can take the focus off of me, and put it on someone else’s needs, I’m going to be better off in the long run!
What Does The Bible Say About Selfishness?
After realizing my own selfishness, and knowing that I’ve got A LOT of work to do, the first place I turned to was the Bible. And you know what? There are several verses that hit on this exact topic! Here are some of my favorites:
Luke 9:23 “Then he said to the crowd, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.’”
Matthew 20:28 “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Each verse says something a little bit different, but the message is clearly the same: thinking only of your own wants and needs will not draw you close to Christ. He was the least selfish person ever, and to be like Him, you have to do like Him. He came to serve, and not to be served, and that’s what we should be doing too. That not only means with our actions but with our thoughts as well.
I reread Psalms 119:36 again, and it hit me like a facepalm right between the eyes! I’m really good at going through the motions, doing what I’m supposed to do, but even then my attitude (aka my heart) can get pretty stinky. When people interrupt or change my plans, I just hate it! Even while I do the right thing, I’m still grumbling on the inside. And that’s not what God wants from me.
How Can We Change Our Selfish Hearts?
After seeing how selfish I am, and reading several Bible passages about the topic, I decided it was time to get serious and make a change! It wasn’t easy, and I’m still a work in progress, but here are the steps I am taking to combat my selfishness.
Realizing The Problem
You can’t work on what you don’t know, so realizing I had a problem was the first step for me to get better. Before, I would always try to pin it on somebody else. I used to think if people would stop interrupting me, I could get my work done. I would get so aggravated at the interruption, and begrudgingly do what they asked, then continue thinking of how inconvenient it was for them to stop me in my important tasks. It’s laughable now, but that’s really how my mind would roll!
Now I realize the problem was me, and not the other person. Maybe God gave me that interruption to test my attitude, and I failed miserably! Maybe what he really wanted me to do was to help someone cheerfully, and I totally blew it. Finally getting that I was the problem brought me closer to fixing my selfish heart.
Pray About It
Every morning, my routine begins with coffee, Bible reading, and prayer. If I wake up late and skimp on this time with God, my day just seems off. This is especially true if I’ve been struggling with a mindset or a character flaw like selfishness. Beginning each day feeding my soul keeps me grounded and in tune with the way God would want me to handle what life puts before me.
Since being convicted of my selfish ways, I’ve added the topic to my daily prayers. I’ve been asking God to help me practice putting others first and to have a better attitude, and I can already tell a difference! Now, I am still a work in progress, and I do have some ugly moments, but God is helping me change, one day at a time.
Find Opportunities to Be Selfless
When you pray for patience, God doesn’t just give you unlimited amounts of patience. He gives you opportunities to PRACTICE patience! It’s the same thing as being selfish. He doesn’t just snap his fingers and make you instantly selfless, even though He could. Instead, God wants you to learn and grow, and you can’t do that without practice.
You could sign up to volunteer and give your time. Or you could be generous with your money and make a donation to a worthy cause. Waving someone through a stop sign when you clearly have the right of way is another way to be less selfish (I think that’s one God wants me to practice a little bit more). When you actively look for ways to be less selfish, the possibilities are limitless!
Surround Yourself With Generous People
A popular belief is your behavior will be similar to the 5 people you are closest to and spend time with regularly. So, you should choose your friends wisely based on their generosity. If you are the most giving and generous person in your friend circle, you may lift the others a little. But eventually, your behaviors will likely begin to mirror theirs.
The friends you choose should display character traits that you wish to follow. And we’re not just talking about learning to be less selfish. Highly-motivated and goal-oriented people are also wonderful examples to follow in your career and any area of your life! Here are a few Bible verses that can help you choose fewer selfish friends.
Highly successful people also realize the power of choosing friends that make you better:
“Surround yourself with those who only lift you higher.” Oprah Winfrey
“It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction.” Warren Buffett
Although I may not agree with Oprah or Warren theologically, they have both been SUPER successful! Plus, they have the right idea when it comes to surrounding yourself with good people. If you’re the most selfless person in your circle, it’s time to find some new role models!
What Do You Think?
How do you work on making yourself better? And what do you do when you battle character flaws like me? Comment or shoot me an email and let me know!
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Thanks for reading,