When I first started drinking coffee it costed about 30 cents a cup. Now I stop at the same Starbucks on my way to work each day to buy a small cup of coffee for almost two dollars. I keep thinking it will be worth it one day — the day the baristas (coffee servers) remember my name. They do, ironically, remember the name of the guy who takes up three parking spots outside with his big ugly truck. But I’m not the favorite customer and it bothers me. I wish it was like the old “Cheers” sitcom and each time I stepped in the door everyone would shout out my name.
It irritates me that I’m seeking affirmation at Starbucks. I’ve seen this negative disposition in myself at other times, also. For example, a lady has a flat tire and I stop to help. It feels nice to help her out . . . until random nice guy stops and begins to help, too. And not only does he help, but he does a better job helping and eventually takes over. All of the sudden I’ve lost my joy in helping because it’s become a kind of competition to me. And, like most competitions I’m in, I’m quickly losing.
I don’t think my reasons for helping others start out wrong. There’s something inside me that wants to help, and while the initial motive is right, sometimes things get twisted inside me. Here’s the deal — I’m aware that at any given moment I think about myself too much. And, sadly, I do this even at the times when I should be helping others. The Christ in me wants to do what’s right but, more often than not, the Me in me gets in the way.
Times of helping others can be awkward for me. It’s awkward because my sanguine personality wants to be affirmed . . . like a middle school kid standing alone at one end of the gym dance floor waiting to be noticed. And I’m embarrassed that I’m even thinking about myself at a time when I should be thinking of others. Instead of trying to feel better about myself, I should be trying to help others feel better.
In his book Blue Like Jazz Donald Miller confesses, “The overwhelming majority of time I spend thinking about myself, pleasing myself, reassuring myself, and when I am done there’s nothing to spare for the needy. Six billion people live in this world and I can only muster thoughts for one. Me.” Instead of self-absorption, Jesus was consumed by the needs of others. After most miracles, Jesus said, “Don’t tell anyone.” Why? Maybe He was more interested in meeting needs than in being recognized. O to be more like Jesus.
*Find practical ways to serve others in the free ebook Simple Ways to Be Missional at Verge
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Calvin G. Roso © February 2014