The report on “CBS This Morning” (2/1/2017) found that American families with kids suffer from an inverted kind of social order in which the kids are in charge. Exhausted parents run all weekend long from one activity to another, sending a message to their little one that he/she is the center of the universe. The child becomes more and more entitled from the focus and attention showered on him. This reinforces the American slogan – “I am important!” The researcher suggested that the way to combat self-centered, entitled kids was to teach them to share the household chores and give them responsibilities and chores early in life which have to be completed well. I’ll add this – if you wait until age 13 to require this because of ‘competence’ issues, the battle is already largely over! Sure a toddler’s clean up of his play area at day’s end will be lacking in organization, but he can learn that he is a servant, just like you.
“Ah, come on, Pastor Jerry. I don’t want to do the dishes. Who wants to be a servant?” I know that we fiercely protect what we believe to be our rights! I also know that Self-esteem is healthy. However, self-esteem that is not balanced with humble service subtly morphs into pride and from that root grows some bad stuff! Here are just a few things that come when a person is untrained to serve.
Hypocrisy, an emphasis on looking good over actually being good, flourishes in those who are prideful.
Vanity, the hollowness that comes from excessive attention to one’s appearance, is found in those who must be first and admired.
Exclusivity, the desire to be part of the ‘in’ group, is another fruit of pride. Howard Schultz, who grew Starbucks® into a huge company, did so in part by turning the act of buying a cup of coffee into a way to ‘belong to a club.’ Coffee snobs take pride in their mastery of the names of the blends and drinks. That exclusivity is rather harmless when it is about coffee, but as a way of life it is antithetical to Christianity!
The discipline of service is the anti-dote to poison of pride. The Word shows us the prime example. “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names.” (Philippians 2:5-9, NLT) Jesus became involved with our need, fully human, and served! He was no demi-god, dabbling in our world. He humbled himself to become one of us, setting aside His glory for our sake.
John Ortberg writes that “the oldest Christological heresy—docetism—arose because people could not absorb the notion that God might enter into vulnerability and suffering. John, the apostle, says it is the spirit of antichrist that denies that Jesus came kata sarx—”in the flesh.” Jesus was no Superman. He did not defy his enemies, hands on his hips, bullets bouncing harmlessly off his chest. The whip drew real blood, the thorns pressed real flesh, the nails caused mind-numbing pain, the cross, led to actual death. And through it all, he bore with people, forgave them, loved them to the end.” – LeadershipJournal.net 1/2007 Curing Grandiosity
Wonderful people adopt an attitude of ‘whatever it takes’ instead of ‘not my job.’ They bring it home and instead of looking for ways to get their spouse to do more, they serve; hopefully inspiring reciprocal service. They take it to work and are willing to take up the slack. The more a person is in the grip of pride the more ways he will find to force his agenda and create his own ‘kingdom.’ His world will increasing shrink down to revolve around his comfort, his concerns, his reputation, his preferences, his emotions, and his agenda. It’s an ugly way to live; tragic, lonely, and paradoxically – what the proud man desires most is denied him by his own pride. Self-absorption is the surest way to become a forgotten person!
Are you willing to set aside your ‘glory?’
Will you become the person that God desires you to be by serving?
Don’t look around while you’re serving, wondering who’s watching and what they think. Just serve for Christ’s sake. Don’t calculate the potential for reward or recognition, just serve for Heaven’s reward.
Let me leave you pondering a story Jesus told at a wedding where the guests were competing to sit at the best tables. It is our word from the Word today.
“When someone invites you to dinner, don’t take the place of honor. Somebody more important than you might have been invited by the host. Then he’ll come and call out in front of everybody, ‘You’re in the wrong place. The place of honor belongs to this man.’ Red-faced, you’ll have to make your way to the very last table, the only place left.
“When you’re invited to dinner, go and sit at the last place. Then when the host comes he may very well say, ‘Friend, come up to the front.’ That will give the dinner guests something to talk about! What I’m saying is, If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face. But if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.” (Luke 14:8-11, The Message)
A Charge To Keep I Have
A charge to keep I have
A God to glorify
A never dying soul to save
And fit it for the sky
To serve the present age
My calling to fulfill
O may it all my powr’s engage
To do my Master’s will
Arm me with jealous care
As in Thy sight to live
And O Thy servant Lord prepare
A strict account to give
Help me to watch and pray
And on Thyself rely
Assured if I my trust betray
I shall forever die
Carlton R. Young | Charles Wesley
© Words: Public Domain