I sat in our Bible study and watched another woman share a prayer request. She was having a hard time dealing with the fact that her parents and sister’s family had moved across the country. After years of living in the same small town of Homer, Alaska, this woman missed them terribly and was growing bitter about it. As I listened to her share with broken voice and many tears, I’m ashamed to admit I had no compassion for her whatsoever. The first thing that jumped into my mind was, “You call that bad? Try being a military wife! We hardly ever get to live near our extended families. We don’t even live with our own husbands half the time!”
Excellent or Praiseworthy is posted on Monday and Thursday nights.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. — Philippians 2:3,4
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry.” Whatever our role, our position, our organization—we should strive to be the best.
Agreed. But what if there was more . . . ?
Don’t all people essentially want the same things? And, in part, don’t we all on some level deeply desire to be successful? I would say, “Yes!”
When people think of “success,” we frequently assume professional development or promotion, superior financial security, nicer “stuff,” good reputation among peers and colleagues, and the quality of relationships we enjoy. I think we would agree this is a fair representation of elements of success. So you say, “Okay, Chaps, we got it. So where are you going with this?”
Hmmm . . . .what if the previous portrayal of success was an incomplete model? What if there was a key ingredient missing from our construct of success? What if the missing piece to our assumed construct was so evident that when I tell you, you will at once respond, “Of course!”
You and I are obsessed with love for numero uno, i.e., “me, myself and I.” Human beings are impulsively self-engrossed. Success is conventionally viewed as something “I” achieve and therefore “I” experience.
What if true success was only achieved in community, as we help others reach and become successful themselves? What if success was inherently attached to the process of “less of you and more of others?”
I believe we were fashioned with the desire for significance. But to be wholly human and satisfied in life, God hard-wired people to serve others with the same pre-conditioned vigor. Here are some thoughts to consider:
- What if life was designed to be more “others-centered” and less “self-centered”?
- What if we came to understand that serving and supporting others (no matter who) was a common duty that increased human pleasure?
- What if supporting the pursuits of others was considered a privilege rather than a burden?
- What if the pursuit to help others in our community was not perceived as a threat to our own self-interest?
I find great hope and assistance in the Scriptures because they consistently run contrary to what comes naturally to “me!” The message of Scripture time and again challenges personal assumptions I hold dearly about life. Scripture keeps me honest—so does my wife—by reminding me: “Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others” (I Corinthians 10:24).
How different would the quality of our lives during deployment be if we aligned ourselves with this one principle and actually sought to think of others first—their needs, their struggles, their interests, their pursuits for significance?
Questions to Share
1. How did you get to where you are today? Who was instrumental in helping you achieve a degree of success in your life? Have you thanked them recently?
2. How are you naturally inclined to take care of yourself at the neglect of others?
3. What specific steps can you take to begin to include “othering” at a deeper level in your life? Who do you need to initiate a relationship with and help them achieve success?