Monday, October 03, 2005

Where Selfishness Lives

We started housing some evacuees from the coast in our building- and in the process also began more intensely walking with others who are in recovery. This new challenge has highlighted some spiritual garbage in me that has always been there - but is now just more apparent.

My selfishness makes itself evident in the ways I minister to others when I try to find easier and quicker ways to help people - desperately wanting their problem or struggle to be resolved without too much personal cost to me. Secretly I don't want their struggle to be too big a burden for me.

I know . . . that attitude really sucks. But I think it is what is often lurking around backstage and subtly influencing me.

The reality is that I can neither be the savior for someone else, nor should I hope bandaids can be a substitute for discipleship in community. Being in community does impose itself on "personal" space - and may call into question whether there is anything really like "personal" space in Christ's way.

If I think about it, not only do I not want ministry to become inconvenient, I don't like it to be without obvious "progress." Sometimes what makes another person's burdern something I don't want to share is that it can't be "solved." So I end up treating persistent struggles as temporary ones - hoping in vain that without too much effort it will go away.

So I really do have a selfish attitude. Somehow, by God's grace, I also have a true desire for ministry - to see God's working and participate in it. I am a contradiction: wanting to administer God's grace into the lives of others (in my regenerate self) and being selfishly concerned with how much of me that process involves (in my sinful self).

A little more death comes creeping in.

3 comments:

Allen Coker said...

I've been thinking the same thing about myself lately. We've been thinking about the "time" involved in discipleship. I try to choose people with quick problems to help. Lord knows I don't have time for someone with ongoing battles.

Kara Lipsmeyer said...

Isn't this idea- selfishness/ pride- really at the root of almost every sin tension there is? This shuffling back and forth between wanting to live for self and displaying God's glory. The good we know, we do not do. But we know it. And sometimes, many times, we may even want to do it.

True ministry, discipleship, intimacy at any level really that is authentic if nothing else, it is vulnerable, (and usually time consuming) which is hard work to overcome self.

Do you think Jesus ever struggled with Pride? With wanting to serve himself? I mean, essentially, he kind of was, which was what he should have done.. but he gave the glory to God. Nothing I do apart from the Father.

Kevin said...

Lately, I have found that people in need are stubborn prophets, exposing us about our true beliefs, and demanding more than lip service in response from us...

they also reveal my selfishness, my impatience, my lack of hope. While I likewise hope to be Christ to the poor, I usually find Christ in the poor. And I am a stubborn disciple, unwanting to hear anything outside of what I want to hear.