I was thinking this afternoon about how often we focus on the wrong thing—namely me. We say that we are not self-centered; we even make a stab at presenting a good front. The truth remains that we want what’s best for us. We often overlook the fact that we’re not really concerned about the other person, but about ourselves when we do whatever it is we do.

            The parent would like to think that they actually have the best interests of their child at heart in something as simple as a child’s birthday party. So we invite everyone, thinking about the loot that our child will come away with and don’t even consider what we are doing to the child—turning them into ourselves, selfish and materialistic. What does the baby come away with but a desire to be king/queen for the day and a bad case of the “I wants.” The truth of the matter is that we waited until the last minute to think about the celebration and so we didn’t give any thought to the guest list—just invite everybody. Several things are at work here:

  1. I don’t want to think about who ought to be invited (it takes away from my time).
  2. I want my kid to have lots of stuff (it really means that I get more attention through my child).
  3. I don’t want to offend anyone (so I invite everyone, without thought to who my kid wants at the shindig).

Experts tell us that at early ages, the rule of thumb to keep the party manageable is to allow your child to invite only as many friends as they are old (if it is their fifth birthday, they can have five friends). This is a good rule of thumb, ignored by most people on first through fourth birthdays when they invite all their adult friends without thought to the child. This is also another effort at making the day about you, the adult, instead of the guest of honor. How? You say. The point of limiting the number of guests is to save the adults time in planning, preparation, and clean-up.

Make the event about the child—let them choose the guests as well as the menu (within reason, after all they are still children).

We also approach spiritual life with this same all about me mentality. It’s a far cry from Matt Redmon’s 1999 reminder of what worship is all about:

 

Heart of Worship

When the music fades and all is stripped away
And I simply come
Longing just to bring something that’s of worth
That will bless Your heart

I’ll bring You more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You’re looking into my heart

I’m coming back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about You
All about You, Jesus
I’m sorry, Lord, for the things I’ve made it
When it’s all about You
All about You, Jesus

King of endless worth, no one could express
How much You deserve
Though I’m weak and poor, all I have is Yours
Every single breath

And so, we get jealous of others who are serving where we should have been asked to serve. We volunteer for the special jobs that we don’t want others more qualified to do. We see ourselves as more important than we really are. If it’s my ministry then why should I allow anyone to help? If it’s my church then why should I invite anyone else (except those I approve of) to worship here? As a matter of fact, we often witness only to earn the bragging rights for having witnessed.

Whose kingdom is it anyway? Whose message? I believe that it’s time for me (and thee) to come to the conclusion that what I do is rarely if ever really about me. It’s always about someone else—in all aspects of my life.

 

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