I love to get my own way. To get to choose which fast food joint we will stop at on vacation. To select what color paint will be on the living room wall. To plan what we will serve for Christmas dinner.
Getting my own way feels good.
Until it doesn’t.
My selfishness can lead to squabbles. My wanting to be served rather than to serve can cause tension in my family. My “me first” attitude of selfishness can lead me straight from the world of family fun into an all-out domestic dispute.
And actually, I have discovered that it feels better when I don’t get my own way because sometimes serving others can bring satisfaction — a satisfaction in knowing we are loving like Jesus loves.
Now, let’s talk more about not getting our own way; about serving rather than being served. Here are 5 backward truths for serving God and our families:
The last are first; the least are greatest and other backward sayings of Jesus.
Jesus said many things that sounded backwards. Seriously backwards. These words must have left His hearers shaking their heads in wonder at the the upside down truths they asserted.
He said that the first would be last and the last would be first (Matthew 19:30), and that if you want to find your life, you have to lose it first (Matthew 10:29 & 16:25), and that whoever wants to be the greatest must be the least of all (Luke 9:48). We must embrace such backward truths in our family relationships, especially in our marriages and in our parenting.
The right thing to do… is to not insist on always being right.
One of my favorite people, the late Ernie Harwell, radio announcer for 42 years for the Detroit Tigers and a very godly man, once said that when faced with the choice between being right or being nice, he’d found it served him well through life to always choose being nice.
THIS DOES NOT COME NATURALLY TO ME!
I LOVE to show that I am right; to prove my point; to have the last word. And, when doing it, I’m not always the most pleasant person to be around. Maybe I would do well to take Ernie’s advice and choose to be nice rather than to be right.
To truly be happy, put your own happiness on hold.
I have seen this so often in my 28 years of marriage and over two decades of mothering. I think getting my own way will make me happy. But when I decide to instead choose an activity or item or even a fast-food place that is not what I desire but rather what my loved one wants, I learn to die to myself and focus on their joy. As a result, it makes me joyful, too.
I think this is because, in seeking another’s happiness over my own, I am reflecting the spirit of Christ. Pursuing holiness in this way brings a sense of calm and peace and true joy. Much more joy than getting my way in the first place!
In order to get a grip, you have to let go.
Want to get a grip in life? LET GO OF THE NEED TO CONTROL! It is that simple. (Simple, yes. Easy? No!)
Deferring a decision to another is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of maturity and strength. Try it! You don’t always have to be the one who makes the decision. Let someone else choose the color of paint or the pattern of the curtains. You send a powerful message when you say, “I trust your judgment.”
How about it friends? Are you ready to be a backward spouse and parent?
It is in the upside-down world of following Jesus where we find true contentment and lasting joy.
Dear God help us all to learn to embrace the backward truths of selfless servanthood as we become more like You.