Me or Thee?
Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
Philippians 2:3-4 MSG
In his paraphrased work, Eugene Peterson illustrates Paul’s description of two choices . . . two clear options that focus on our own way or on the way of others . . . on self or on serving. The apostle gives an example of Jesus’ surrender, submission and service. Paul instructs that we embrace the “mind of Christ” as we engage those around us.
This strategy requires us to set aside self and serve. Our promoting and positioning gives way to a passion for and priority of others.
Self-Promotion. The struggle of our soul is to be selfless. Faith requires a fight against the flesh . . . saying no to us and yes to others. Paul writes, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” (Phil 2:3 NLT). Thinking of others before we think of ourselves is the key to kindness. Matthew Henry reminds us, “Kindness is the law of Christ’s kingdom”. Promoting self always means we prioritize self. Rick Joyner writes, “We can build influence by self promotion, but God will only promote those who do not promote themselves. That which is built on self-promotion will have to be maintained by human striving.”
Self-Positioning. The apostle gives some advice, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” (Phil 2:4 NLT). Seeing with clarity and compassion starts with viewing others through God’s eyes. Brown writes, “Instead of fixing your eyes on those points in which you excel, fix them on those in which your neighbor excels you: this is true ‘humility’.” Positioning others ahead of ourselves promotes peace. The writer of Hebrews reminds us, “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Heb 12:14 NIV)
Cheryl Bachelder, former CEO of Popeye’s Chicken gives some simple, yet significant thoughts in her book, “Dare to Serve” . . .
- “As a leader, the most ambitious thing you will ever attempt is removing yourself from the spotlight.”
- “Followers appreciate humble leaders – leaders with the ability to admit mistakes, to apologize, and to be vulnerable in difficult circumstances; leaders who think of others more than themselves.”
- “Leaders who serve others have three core values: human dignity, personal responsibility, and humility.”
- “Ambition is a problem if it is all about you.”
- “Other-focused leadership inspires people to thrive. Self-focused leadership induces people to survive.”
Saint Francis gives us the following prayer of selflessness . . .
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.”
It’s not about me . . . it’s about serving instead of self.