When I was a kid, I can remember having occasional “family meetings” in which Mom and Dad (who usually, at this point, had “had it”) would sit us down and lay down some “new rules.” Generally this mean no more eating in the living room or leaving half-drunk soda cans lying around. We made it as much of a challenge as possible for these rules to stick, and eventually life would return to normal. I know… we reap what we sow…
Here’s a major lesson that this illustrates. Rules are an ineffective means for managing relationships. In other words, you can’t force someone to obey, love, or respond sensitively by use of a rule. You can, however, convey principles that become a part of our core, that drive our moment-by-moment decisions. For example, setting a rule of “no smarting off to your brother” probably won’t last, but establishing the principle that “we respect our siblings” is a principle that can be learned and applied to a variety of situations over the long haul.
I share these kinds of principles with couples in counseling, men in discipleship, and my congregation in my preaching. And I’d like to share some basic (but essential) principles of healthy relationships here on my blog as well. Do remember that each of these flows directly out of the New Testament’s descriptions of what a born-again and Spirit-filled believer is supposed to look like.
Here’s the first…
It’s Not About Me
Earth-shattering, I know, but we live in selfish times, and perhaps more than ever, Christians are being influenced by the world around us to think selfishly and to look out for self. Philippians 2, however, presents to us a Christ who was completely selfless when He went to the cross as the ultimate example of how we should live our lives. “Let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (vs. 3-4)
Notice that Paul wasn’t recommend we ignore our needs, which usually leads to frustration and bitterness. Instead, he advised that we consider others the priority over self, and that as we were looking out for our interests, that we also consider the interests of others.
As a Pastor, I’m bombarded by questions from potential church attendees all asking this basic question, “What do you have for me?” People get married so they can receive happiness from a person. We seek jobs and choose colleges because of the personal benefits to us. The problem is that we’re trained to ask, “What’s in it for me?”
The day we realize that it’s not all about us is the day we start contributing something to the health of our marriages and families, our churches, and our communities.
Die to self.
Set self aside.
Move your focus to Christ on His throne and others around you. You’ll be amazed at the results.