One of my favorite teachers was at the Sunset International Bible Institute—Richard Rogers. Richard Rogers had a keen mind and an eloquent tongue and most of all, a heart intensely devoted to and on fire for the Lord, making him an incredibly gifted teacher. He could make the Bible text come alive in full Technicolor glory. For all the detailed studies and heart-wrenching sermons, his greatest contribution to many of his students may have been his simplest. He constantly referred in his classes to this principle of teaching: YBH. “In all your teaching and preaching,” he said, “there must be an answer to the question—Yeah, But How?” Richard said he got the idea from watching the master teacher, Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount.
In my previous installment of It’s Not About You (Pt. 1: Learning From Galileo), I left you with a few questions. If you’ve not read the previous blog, or have not considered the questions, please do before going on.
We are all keenly aware that our world is in desperate need of a change for the better, and I don’t believe that we can start on the road to making lasting change for the cause of Christ and His kingdom until we grapple with and address the egocentrism that is so rampant in our society, and that means examining ourselves, not everyone else. So, today I’d like to spend a couple minutes on the YBH—Yeah, but how?—of ridding egocentrism from our lives by putting selflessness into practice. A word of warning, though, some are not for the faint of heart.
(Humility disclaimer: I make no claim to having it all together myself yet, and urge you to feel free to add steps have helped you and may help others in the comments section.)
- Say it with me: “It’s not about me. It’s not about me. It’s not about me.”
- We are what we read. Put down the self-help crud (yes, even if you bought it at the Christian bookstore) and pick up your Bible. To take on the challenge of selfless living, you’ll need spiritual buff, not fluff. Spend time daily in the Gospels, Psalms and Proverbs. Read Revelation with the single purpose of noting how the Father, Son and Spirit are praised…repeating in your mind, “It’s about God. It’s about God. It’s about God.”
- Richard Rogers used to say that you could look at a church’s bulletin and know all you needed to know about what they perceive their mission to be by what they were doing and announcing. It’s true, and your calendar and to-do lists are your personal bulletin, so grab your calendar off the fridge, or your pda, or sit down and open Outlook and examine yourself. Keep it handy as you read the next nine steps…God’s going to work on that calendar a little.
- Devote yourself daily to interceding for others in prayer. Don’t limit this to people you know, or people who are sick. Start praying for the oppressed, needy, those in war, those in prison, your enemies, the divorced, the leaders of our country, the children in foster care…you get the drift. One more—pick up the newspaper now and then and use it as a prayer list; every story is a person in need of prayer.
- Volunteer. Find some place, in the church, in the community, wherever there is a need you can fill, and serve with no expectation of return or recognition. If you’re not sure what you can do, call your local food bank or Meals on Wheels or Habitat for Humanity. Serve to glory of God.
- Instead of a vacation, go on a mission trip to a third world country and let God open your eyes. Go to learn and serve, not to be entertained or to get some “mountain high”. You need to understand that in the global picture, America is not the norm…not even close. If you can’t afford such a trip (hey, I can’t either right now), come to my house…seriously. I’ll take you to some places here in the States within quick driving distance that just might be just as helpful in shattering the delusions of American suburbia.
- Repeat after me: “I will not make excuses. I will not make excuses. I will not make excuses.” Now do that six more times.
- You know that money that’s been burning a hole in your pocket? The money you’ve been saving for an iPod, or a TV, or a fishing rod? Go get it and then come back to the computer. OK, got it? Here are a few ideas:
- Go to the grocery store and buy as many gift cards with it as you can. Find people who need bread and milk more than you need an iPod. Trust me, they won’t be hard to find, but you may have to leave your circle of friends.
- Love to shop and have the means? Go ahead and do it. No, seriously, just not for yourself. Go to Macy’s or Kohl’s, or Dillard’s or what have you and buy some nice clothing. Do you know how seldom the charities and churches that you’ll be giving it to actually get new stuff? I can tell you from experience that it’s next to never.
- School is starting back up. If your church has college students from out of town, go buy a student some gas for their next trip home.
- Give your house away. WHAT?! Yeah, give your house away by using it to the service of God. If you’re at home, look around. Isn’t everything you see around you all about you (if you’re tempted to say, “No, it’s about my family”, repeat #7)? God has blessed you with the home you’re in, however grand or humble. How are you currently using your home to His glory? Your home should be “Kingdom Central” for you and your family, a sort of base camp for your outreach to the world. I don’t know what your home is like, but you do. So answer these questions, writing down your ideas:
- How can I open/use my home for God’s purposes?
- Can I host a Bible study, small group, prayer group, fellowship?
- Am I practicing hospitality with my God’s house and having people over on a regular basis?
- Have I made my home a place to hide from my mission as a Christian?
- Are people comfortable coming to my house?
- Repeat after me: “My house is not about me.”
- Start making visits to people from your church when they are in the hospital. If you don’t like hospitals, so what. Who does? The church I grew up had a volunteer group that took flowers to all that were in the hospital. My mother was involved and
draggedtook me along. It made a profound impact on me for the good. It doesn’t have to be a long visit (and shouldn’t be, in my opinion) My mom was able to fit this in between teaching school and raising nine kids (I’ve got seven adopted brothers and sisters.)
- Have you considered foster parenting or adoption? There are so many children in need of a loving, safe home and family. Please don’t dismiss this one out of hand because of the size of the commitment. And as you consider it, please repeat steps 1 and 7.
- You know that man or woman in your church that you’ve admired because of their selfless service and undying generosity? Pay them the highest compliment. Imitate them. In fact, approach them and ask if you can start helping them as they serve. You may even want to ask them to mentor you and help you become as they are as they follow Christ. Just be prepared—they didn’t get where they are by taking the path of egocentrism. They’ll make you stretch some muscles you’d forgotten you even had, which means you may be sore a day or two, but it’ll be worth it.
Vaya con Dios.
Coming Soon: Part 3: It’s Not About You: Evangelism