By John Croyle
There is a song by the popular Christian music trio Phillips, Craig and Dean that begins with these words:
As I look back
On what I thought was living
I’m amazed at the price
I chose to pay
And to think I ignored
What really mattered
’Cause I thought the sacrifice
Would be too great
Please read those words one more time, and let them sink in a little. If you will, note the noun and verb in each phrase: I look, I thought, I’m amazed, I chose, I ignored, I thought…. Most all of us have our list of regrets throughout our lives. Some of us have volumes of decisions that we regret—I know I sure do. There are those people in our past that we have hurt, and there are those who have hurt us in one way or another.
Just remember—each of us as parents, and as husbands or wives, sometimes have to just stop and honestly examine ourselves to see if we are “ignoring” what really matters, and just doing what feels good to us in the moment. If I were a betting man, I would gamble on the fact that most of the sins that you and I have committed are because of being self-centered and looking out for the best for ourselves instead of what’s best for others.
If you think about it, even most arguments begin with stubborn selfishness in one or both people involved. We could avoid a lot of headaches, and even more heartaches, if we just focused on what we should be focused on and were others-centered, as opposed to self-centered. Think about the last argument you had with your spouse or with your child. One or both of you was ignoring what really mattered.
At birth, we are focused on ourselves and have no concept of sharing or being compassionate toward others. If you don’t believe me, just visit a daycare one day or ask someone who works in a nursery. Small children are naturally self-centered. We must grow and develop our sense of empathy and awareness of others around us.
Some people, as they get older and mature, grow out of that self-centered nature and have true compassion and love for others above themselves. On the other hand, we all know those people who everyone looks at as arrogant and egotistical—out to get what they can for numero uno! But let’s face it: some of us are just better at hiding our selfishness than others. Many of us stay in that mode of getting what we can for self with no regard for the people around us. We are scared that if we do what others want, we may have to sacrifice what we want.
So, what can we do to change this attitude? There is a verse in the Bible that addresses this innate selfishness that we all possess, Philippians 2:3–4: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
It’s really quite simple—put others before yourself. Whether it be your mate, your children, your parents, your friends, your coworkers, or someone you passed on the street this morning, you should regard them as more important than yourself. That is so hard to do at first, but once you make yourself do it a few times, it will become a habit, a way of life! The people whom you meet and know who have mastered this art are very easy to spot. You can probably think of someone right now who does this. And to be honest, they are the happiest people in the world! They are a joy to be around. They bring light to a room.
Let’s make it our goal the next few weeks to put others before ourselves. We will see a difference not only in us, but also in those around us. In other words, focus on what really matters!