Best of 2021: Putting Others First (Released 02-15-2021)
Wednesday, December 15, 2021
Originally Published February 15, 2021
Through the end of the year, we’ll be rerunning some of the best Life Lifters from 2021. We hope you’ll join us each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning!
We live in a day in which we suffer from a critical disease called "me-ism," where we tend to think about ourselves. We used to have a magazine in our country called "Self," which seems appropriate. For this disease, me-ism, we have a term called "narcissism" where all we do is think about ourselves and what interests us. We all know that's wrong, but unfortunately, we're all tempted to live in "Me-ism Ville." That's a new word (or place)!
I want to instead propose a new idea that's completely countercultural, radical, and goes against the flow of everything you probably see, read and hear: put others first. It's interesting that narcissistic people that focus on themselves are the most unhappy people. All the research shows you this; the more you focus on yourself, the more unhappy you are because all you're doing is examining yourself and critiquing yourself. It's why social media is such a colossal flop for so many reasons. I mean, it has some positives, for sure. The negative of social media is that you see all these people putting their fake images of themselves out there, and meanwhile you're going, "I don't seem that happy, I'm not doing all these fun things like they are." All social media can do quite often is feed narcissism, or me-ism. All the research says that it will depress you. "I think about myself all day long."—It's a radically depressing thought. But you know what the research shows about people who put others first? They are the happiest people! Counterintuitive? Countercultural? Yeah, but it works.
I get this idea from the words of Jesus Christ with one of his marquee statements in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 10, verse 45, where he said this: "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” He didn't come to be served, but to serve. Now, Jesus Christ is God. Jesus Christ is perfect. Jesus Christ deserved to be served. Instead, He served. Why? Because in His humanity and deity, He loved us to the full and because of this, He served us. He served us because we needed serving because of our sin. He served us because He loved us. He also served us so that He would be a model for us. In fact, here at Lakeshore, when we teach people about leadership, we teach about not just any leadership, but the driving motive for the leadership we teach here is servant leadership. Servant leadership puts other people first.
Do you put other people first? It's really hard, in fact, it's probably impossible, but I can say this: when you begin to engage and appreciate God's love for you, then you have something to give others. You cannot give what you do not have. But if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you are a Christian, and God's love is in you, and then you can put others first.
I already told you that if you think about yourself all the time, it's depressing. If you think about others first, it's enjoyable, but here's the thing: if you put others first and yourself second, you're going to be more satisfied because what happens is when you put others first, most 'reasonable' people will be appreciative of you. It will encourage you and you'll feel more satisfied. If you think about yourself, people are going to think, "I don't want anything to do with that". That's depressing. So, put others first. When you do, you'll find life has more meaning. If Jesus Christ said the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and give His life for ransom, I'm thinking that's the right way to live for me. Is it easy? No. It's especially hard if you're Italian, but I can tell you this: it's worth it. I think it'll be worth it for you, too.
Let's pray. Heavenly Father, thank you so much for this reminder to put others first. If you Lord, and your Son, Jesus Christ, put others first, help us to do it. Help us catch ourselves when we're trying to put ourselves first, and others second. And help us to think about ways we can elevate others and when we do, you'll lift us up. You say that the last shall be first when we humble ourselves. You will exalt us. So many great promises. So help us to do that. Help us start at home, start at work, start in our neighborhood and do it to everyone we can. We asked this through your Son, the servant leader, Jesus Christ, Amen. Thanks for joining us today. Have a great day.