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My Biggest Struggle is…..Me!

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Life is full of challenges!!! There are many obstacles and many difficult poeple to contend with but I have found the person I have the biggest problem with is me! Quite frankly we are all selfish by nature and the culture we have grown up in seems to promote our selfish tendencies.

Commercails through the years have said things like, “You deserve a break today!” and there have been others such as: “Just Do It”, “Why wait?”, “Obey Your Thirst”, and “No Boundaries!” The appeal is to go ahead, be selfish, gratify yourself and take care of number one, you!

There was even a country song not too long ago entitled, I Want to Talk About Me which said “I wanna talk about me, Wanna talk about I, Wanna talk about number one!” Please know it was quite catchy and I’m not attacking it because I can certainly relate.

You can even go online and find 100 positive affirmations you can say to yourself to boost your self-image. Things like, “I love and approve of myself!” and “I am too big a gift to the world to waste my time on self-pity and sadness.” Unfortunately, what this creates is the thought that self is in control!

What does the Bible say on this? Jesus in Matt 16:24 said, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.” Quite a contrast from what we hear the world telling us isn’t it! While the world says you should do what self tells you Jesus says you should deny self!

The idea is conveyed that nothing is more important than me and what I want to do but Phil. 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.” Others should be more important than me!

Here are some of the self-centered tendencies that we must face and address if we want to follow Christ:

  • Self-Promotion – We must be very careful about desiring the applause and approval of others. The greatest question to keep asking ourselves is this, “Is Jesus satisfied with me and my motives?” When we allow our selfishish aspirations to dominate us then critcism will crush us and applause will corrupt us. Paul says this in Gal 6:14, “But as for me, I will never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The world has been crucified to me through the cross, and I to the world.”
  • Self-Indulgence – We are told we deserve it and if we want it go for it! The reality is that many of the things we desire and want are not good for us nor are they right. When you set yourself up as the final authority you are headed down a dangerous road. Pro 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” Culture would have us to believe that if we want it, it must be ok, and if we feel it is right then who are you to question me on it. There is absolute truth and it is the word of God.
  • Self-Image – The focus on appearance is in front of us every single day. On Twitter one pastor shared the picture of a book , Faking It, How To Seem A Better Person Without Actually Improving Yourself. He did say the he does NOT recommend it. You can fix almost everything on the outside with cosmetic surgery, wear the finest clothing available and yet God says in I Sam 16:7, “Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.” What does God see when he looks at your heart?
  • Self-Pity – This at first may not appear to be self-serving but it is. It places all of the focus on me and my struggles. There certainly will be disappointments and tragedies that will break our hearts. We can follow that path or we can look to God in faith and trust that He has a purpose in everything. In Gen 50:20 Joseph said this about his brothers selling him into slavery and telling his father that he was dead, “You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result—the survival of many people.”
  • Self-Preservation – The temptation here is to think that I have to take care of “me” first. Yet, the heroes we look up to are individuals who risked their own lives to protect other us. There is that voice in our head saying, “If you don’t take care of yourself nobody else will!” We need to ask ourselves what we are afraid of losing, what we are trying to hide, and what are we trying to prove? Matt 16:25 says, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it.”

The need is not to focus on myself more but actually less. It is not about self-promotion, self-indulgence, self-image, self-pity, or self-preservation. Paul in Rom 12:3 puts it this way, “For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think.”

Here is what we need more of according to the word of God:

  • Self-Denial – It is first what God says, not what I think! It is first what is best, not what I want! It is first what is right, not what I desire! It is first how can I help others, not how can I take care of me! It is first His will for my life, not my goals, my plans, and my dreams!

You see my greatest struggle is not you, difficult people, people who disagree with me, or anyhting other excuse I can conjure up! Its me!

LET’S TALK ABOUT ME

Ego

   Everyone likes a pat on the back or for someone to say, “Great Job!”  The reality is that pride is always lurking in the shadows.  We can easily be driven way too much by the praise and applause of others.  Philippians 3:8 says, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,”

     As we develop our intimacy with Christ we become less dependent upon the need for man’s applause.  When our identity is in Christ then we will no longer be dependent upon our accomplishments or the accolades of others.  Galatians 1:10 says, “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”  Be careful, you can even get proud that you are not like everybody else!     

     America has a virus; “Celebrity-itis.”  We have deified athletes, actors, musicians, and even some pastors.  Because we are such an individualistic society we have developed a celebrity culture that idolizes certain individuals.  In Multiplying Missional Leaders, Mike Breen puts it this way, “Now, there is nothing dark or sinister about celebrity in and of itself.  You can’t make the argument that says Jesus wasn’t a huge celebrity in His day.  However, the problem with celebrity comes when we ignore the difference between being famous and being significant.”    

     Pride, arrogance, and a lack of humility can slip up on anyone.  Man’s nature is prone to take credit for the things that we should not take credit for.  The virus of Celebrity can easily infect anyone and can only be contained with a humble spirit.  James is very clear that God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.   Listen to what several leaders have said about the desire to a celebrity:

  • “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.” —Jesus
  • “He must increase, but I must decrease.” —John the Baptist
  • “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think;” —Paul
  • “Humility is nothing but the disappearance of self in the vision that God is all.” —Andrew Murray
  • “If pastors become “rock stars” or “celebrities” today we shouldn’t be surprised to see them in rehab tomorrow.”  —Lukas Naugle
  • “God sends no one away except those who are full of themselves.” —D.L. Moody
  • “We forget that the entrance exam to heaven is a blood test, not a Scantron.  Pride and a lack of love nullify our knowledge.” —Larry Osborne
  • “Humility is not just declaring that you are not God.  It is daily dying to your desire to be God.” —Darrin Patrick
  • “When God measures a man he puts the tape around the heart, not the head.” —Howard Hendricks
  • “Too many of us are simply climbing ladders that don’t matter.” —Shawn Lovejoy

     Here is part of a recent blog by Rick Warren on this subject, “Even writing a blog post on this almost guarantees comments about pots and kettles.  And I get that.  I’m as human as you are.  And if we are all honest with ourselves, we would admit that it is a struggle for each of us in some way.  However, sometimes to personally admit to our own arrogance, we need prodding.  

     Why?  Because we often become blind to our own faults.  The reason it is so dangerous, especially for those of us in ministry positions, is that it can become a cancer to our ministry. I could, and I guess you could as well, name dozens of pastors whose arrogance and pride led them to a very public, very shameful fall.  Arrogance stifles mission.  It redirects the focus of our ministry to us instead of to a kingdom focus.  And if left unchecked, our ministry will begin to exist for its purpose, not God’s purposes.”