“And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, ‘If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.’” – Mark 9:35 NKJV
What great admonition from the greatest leader of all – be selfless!
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Whilst growing up, I remember my mum taught us to always pick the smaller piece of meat from the plate and allow the next person to pick the bigger piece. This teaching affected not just meat-sharing but how I treat people generally, and I have made and sustained strong relationships as a result of this.
Jesus wanted his disciples to pay full attention to what He was going to teach them on being selfless, so he got them to sit down first. When an important matter is to be a discussed, family members get seated.
We can adopt this timeless message from Jesus and apply it in our homes. We as parents should inculcate the attitude of selflessness into our children by teaching them verbally and practically. One becomes great by serving others; by preferring the other person.
It is human nature to always want to be on top, be right, be correct or win every argument, but Jesus encouraged that the best way to go is to deny this nature. It does not mean you should neglect yourself, it simply means you should deny yourself.
Philippians 2:4 says “Let each of you look out not only for his interest, but also for the interest of others.” Great heroes and heroines are recognised by their selfless service. Mother Theresa, for example, stood out and was highly celebrated because of her acts of selflessness. And being selfless is not just a recipe for greatness out there but also for successful relationships generally, even at home.
A selfless person is not motivated by immediate gain or gratification for an act or deed; he or she does not expect something in return for lending a helping hand, or for showing genuine concern for others. In other words, a selfless person does not go the extra mile so as to be seen or rewarded; he or she does so for its own sake, without minding the inconveniences.
It is common knowledge that children learn better by observation. So our attitude of selflessness to our spouse and others around us will show our children the path to tread.
Jesus Christ is a perfect example of pure selflessness: “who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage;” rather, He humbled Himself and took on the nature of a servant. The question is: to what end or purpose? It was so He could teach us by example. He stooped to wash His disciples’ feet and gave us eternal life through the painful and shameful death on the cross. True selflessness emanates from a heart of compassion.
Jesus reproved and was assertive when there was need for such, but all through His walk on earth, everything He did stemmed out of compassion. Now that He is seated at the right hand of the Father, He is still a compassionate High Priest and we are instructed as His followers (sons and daughters of the Kingdom) to follow in His footstep.
I read the story of a young female athlete, Megal Vogel, who conceded her position in a 3,200metre race to her competitor, Arden McMath. With about 20-metre to the finish line, Vogel saw McMath who she had never met before collapse on the track. Rather than run past her, Vogel stopped, helped Arden to her feet and carried her across the finish line. As she and McMath moved closer to the finish line, Vogel purposely steered McMath across the finish line ahead of herself.
When asked why she acted that way, she responded “Helping (McMath) across the finish line was a lot more satisfying than winning the state championship.” It was a win-win situation as both parties were satisfied and happy.
No matter how it may look, being intentionally selfless towards your spouse is a blessing to him/her and to you. It is a win-win situation! Most marital problems will be easily resolved if each will just consider the other above himself or herself. Intentionally love your spouse by making his/her interest matter to you. Take dance classes, even when you dislike dancing; allow your wife pick the movie to watch or watch sports with your husband, even if you do not support any team, and support his team.
A firm commitment to putting the happiness of your spouse before your own will help make your marriage peaceful.
Resentment and weakened trust will only arise when your spouse watches you time and time again choose your own needs, desires and happiness before or over his or hers. This will condition them to think that you will only do things for them when it is in your own best interest or as long as your needs are met first. And this act of selfishness has contributed to the troubles in many homes and to the rising rates of divorce.
In the Book, “Marriage and Divorce”, Kimball notes that “Every divorce is the result of selfishness on the part of one or the other or both parties to a marriage contract. Someone is thinking of self-comforts, conveniences, freedoms, luxuries, or ease.”
Even if your spouse is the selfish one, you can change him or her by your acts of selflessness. Do not expect an immediate change in him or her but bear in mind that, most times, people base their opinion and actions on those little things that often seem insignificant. We often think no one is watching or taking into account our deeds, especially the ones that seem inconsequential, but the people around, especially our spouses, take note. Most importantly, God sees it all and rewards us in due time.
So we could start by doing those little things which seem insignificant. These include:
??When snacks are passed around, allowing others to pick before us, or choosing a small piece and being mindful of others who are yet to pick.
??Being mindful of other road users while driving.
??Husbands helping out with the children and household chores.
??Wives going the extra mile to make the home a real home and not just a house.
??Not jumping the queue.
??Treating your domestic workers with respect and compassion, etc.
And let us trust the Holy Spirit to helps us graduate (though we can never graduate in the things of God) to a higher dimension where we are able to lay all down on the altar of God.
Be selfless and teach same to your children by your words and actions.