Wednesday, September 25, 2013

When It's Not About Me

Last week my daughter Rebecca introduced me to the author John Stott. How could I have missed his writings? Two of his books have now been added to the growing stack on the floor by my desk. I fear Rebecca's Theology major and my book addiction will not be kind to my wallet.

In his book The Incomparable Christ John Stott writes, "Only if we serve, will we experience freedom. Only if we lose ourselves in loving, will we find ourselves. Only if we die to our own self-centeredness, will we begin to live."

Did he write this just for me?! Over and over in my own life this has been proven. Only when I serve others, do I stop thinking about myself: Am I happy or sad, has someone offended me, was the sermon fulfilling enough, am I lonely, have my family and friends been attentive enough this week and on and on until I am a mess of self focus and just - yuk!

Kevin and I returned Monday from a weekend in Austin, Texas where we attended Idea Camp - Human Care. We heard ordinary people speak about living bravely in a scary world.

We think of lives lived in service for others as sacrifice, and yes it is difficult and different and sometimes scary. But I wonder if it isn't so much better than a life lived comfortably at home. I struggle each day to "die to self," praying it would be easier to look away from my selfish and prideful desires and instead, look only to loving others well. Why is this so hard? The only antidote I have found to selfishness and pride is helping others. When I am loving and caring for others, I forget myself. I forget my desire to get my own way, my desire to be the center of attention. I forget even my own self-focus. This is the only way I know to let go of me.

Brandon Hatmaker, author of The Barefoot Church (seriously, do not read his book unless you're ready to live a far less sedentary life!), was the first speaker at Idea Camp. He said part of our goal in being the hands and feet of Jesus must be sharing that experience with others. For me that means sharing the amazing feeling I get in helping and loving those in need. So here I am saying, if you want more joy in your life and less focus on your own messy self, help others. If you want to go to bed at night exhausted but content, serve others. Sometimes you'll go to bed confused and discouraged and wondering if you're helping or hurting, because this is real life and serving others is always messy, but it is always, always better.

See the need around you and grab onto it. It's right there in the person next to you at Starbucks, at the bus stop, on your morning run, in the house across the street, across the aisle at your church. Be a difference.

If you want more joy in your life, serve others.

If you want more peace in your life, serve others.

If you want more hope in your life, serve others.