Life based on an “It’s all about ME!” mindset will have terrible impact on your family. Toxic selfishness destroys relationships and makes some people impossible to live with. If “It’s all about ME!” then it can’t be about anything else, can it? So everything else suffers. Family suffers. People suffer. Marriage suffers.
When “Me” becomes someone’s focus in the family that person ends up abusing everyone else. So I want to walk you through some observations about this disastrous selfishness issue.
While selfishness is endemic in human society it certainly has a stronghold in Western society. It is very much a Western disease. Now, I know that every culture is afflicted with self interest and maybe some are worse than the West, but since I mostly deal with Westerners I want you to face up to the issues of our culture.
Modern Westerners are strong on independence, pleasing themselves and knowing what their favourite choices are. We ask our children what they want, from the earliest age. We promote self-expression and self-assertiveness across our culture. We provide wide variety so everyone can cater to their personal tastes and preferences. All of this and more goes into promoting a selfish perspective.
Fading Christian Morals
Previous Western generations were profoundly impacted by Christian teaching, from pulpits, classrooms and the broader culture. Biblical Christianity teaches selflessness, sacrifice, service to others, care for the needy, love for our enemies, forgiveness to our offenders, love for our neighbours, responsibility for our actions, and much more, that all work together to counter selfishness.
As Christian morals and Biblical teaching have faded from Western culture the grace and message that empowered people to deal with their selfishness has also faded. Westerners are less able to resist their selfish impulses now than in previous generations.
Increasingly we see young and old living by the maxim, “It’s all about ME!”
When “Me-ism” flourishes, families suffer. Family is a place where personal and individual aspirations are restrained, for the common good of all the other members. A couple join together in a mutually rewarding union. Both husband and wife work together in their own unique roles to establish a lasting relationship.
The secure base created by the marriage forms the framework for a family into which children are born and in which they are raised. The couple assumes the roles and responsibilities of parenting. Children grow up in the security of the home and learn to take their own place as both beneficiaries of the family and responsible contributors.
But when family members become focused on self-will, self-interest and self-indulgence, the family is impacted. Family life stands in stark contrast to selfish self-indulgence.
All About What?
What happens in many exchanges between couples and with children is that some issue comes to the fore and becomes a source of pain. While on the surface it seems that the conflict is all about the issue that is in focus, the real problem may well be “Me-ism”.
While it may seem that some disturbance is all about a mess that is made, a job left undone, a door left open or any one of a thousand other things, it is in fact all about someone’s feelings. It’s not all about that thing which is pointed at as the problem, but it is “All About ME!” in the mind of the person who is raising the protest.
Mum and the Mess
To help you understand what I’m driving at, let me give you an example that might happen in an average family.
Imagine a mother who is suddenly upset about a mess left in the kitchen. She raises her voice and calls out in angry tones to find out who is responsible. Because of her anger no-one wants to admit guilt. Outraged by the mess and the lack of anyone taking responsibility the mother begins to berate the family, accuse various people, express her pain, or some similar dramatic display. The family suffers in silence, feeling that mum has a case, but also feeling that something is out of order.
The end result is that people are all brought into a pain experience. Shame, discomfort, embarrassment or many related feelings may be stirred up. The mother is not made to feel any better by her outburst and may carry her sense of offence for a long time after the explosion. Everyone else walks on egg-shells (so to speak) or gets away from the fuming mother.
Mess or Me
Most times that this kind of situation develops the problem is not the mess but the “Me”. The mum carries her own set of feelings about her role in the home. She has her own set of feelings about her kitchen and how things are meant to be left. She has her own set of feelings about what it means to have to clean up after someone who has not taken responsibility for their mess. She has her own set of feelings about what she could be doing with her career if she were not a domestic mum. She has her own set of feelings about how she has protested in the past and not been listened to. And so on it goes.
When such a mum sees a mess in her kitchen there are multiple buttons pressed in her brain and heart. She reacts, or should I say “over-reacts”, based on the past history of issues that are unique to her private thoughts and feelings. She dumps her hurts, disappointments, frustrations, outrage, misgivings, sense of failure, and other possible inner feelings, onto her family. The tirade she expresses is not a wise means of resolving an issue, but a “Me” outburst.
Those private thoughts and feelings are part of her “Me” package. When she blows her top it is not really because of the mess that has been left, but because of her own personal “Me” package of thoughts and feelings.
No More Me
Imagine how that situation would be dealt with by a person who had completely dealt with her “Me” problem, or who at least was very sensitive to it and who ruled her own spirit.
Mum comes in and sees the mess. She immediately realises that someone in her family is not taking proper responsibility for the messes they make. She quietly goes to individual family members and enquires, quietly and without any passion, to find the person who is responsible.
When she discovers the one who left the mess she sweetly asks them to come and assist her in cleaning up the mess. She supervises them to ensure they know how to properly remove the mess they have made, and then asks them sweetly to remember to do it of their own initiative next time.
She then prayerfully considers the process employed in the home to train people to take responsibility. She may seek her husband’s advice and assistance in creating a more effective regime in the home. She will also ask God for wisdom.
Meanwhile, she will see that all the feelings which rise within her from time to time are indications of her own failure and need for wholeness. Rather than venting any of those feelings or dumping them on others, she restrains them and then takes them to God in prayer, for her own total deliverance.
When she is used, abused, taken for granted, treated with thoughtless disregard, and so on, she seeks God for divine wisdom about God’s honour being preserved in the home.
Her focus is to: give honour to God and to her husband; raise her children in godliness; establish God’s kingdom on earth; glorify God by her responses and choices; die to herself; be a servant; model God’s grace to her children; discipline her children on God’s behalf, not on behalf of her hurt feelings; and so on.
Hubby and Kids Too
The example given here could be applied to a father who is angry with his wife of children. Or it could be applied to children who are in strife with each other, or who have taken offence toward a parent.
When a man’s ego has been offended he will respond based on his feelings, rather than based on God’s wisdom and glory. Issues become “Me” focused, rather than Kingdom of God centred.
Children take up offences, from each other and from their parents. They may resent the restraints placed on their by their dad, or the demands made of them by their mum. They may be jealous of their siblings or just plain selfish about getting their own way.
In family life, many of the issues which come up to cause strife between family members are actually based on the “It’s all about ME!” mindset.
It’s About Him
It’s time to do away with this toxic selfishness. It’s time to give God glory in your home, by you dying to self and removing the “Me” factor from all your relationship exchanges.
It’s not longer about “Me”, but about Him (God) and about His Kingdom.