My “I” Keeps Getting in the Way

While I have a few health conditions that I did not cause myself, most of my injuries and scars are self-inflicted. Whether they be emotional, physical, or spiritual I am my own worst enemy. My ego or my “I” is what trips me up and is also what causes the most collateral damage. In many cases, it is what wounds other people and gives them their own scars.

I am convinced that I am not alone in this problem. If we do not mature emotionally and spiritually, then we will always seek our “rights” above those of others. If we do not grow into emotional and spiritual adulthood, then we will treat every interaction with other people as a competition and a fight. If we are truly honest with ourselves, we must admit the truth of what I write.

Siblings, classmates, teammates, co-workers, spouses, people with differing political views, brothers and sisters in Christ, people of different races, genders, and national origin all too frequently approach every moment that involves some other person or some other group as a time to battle. Unfortunately, every “victory” not only leads to a presumed defeat of the other party, it actually leaves us wounded as well. We cannot battle another human being without losing their respect, hurting our influence, and damaging our spirit.

The old saying “there’s no I in team”, is a pretty good reminder that all human beings are struggling in the human predicament together. Our life experiences might be different and our DNA might be too but we have more in common than we might think. As a Christian and a follower of God, I firmly believe that He is the maker of all things, the giver of all good gifts and that He sent His Son Jesus to give everlasting life to anyone who wants it and who will follow Him daily (Colossians 1:13-17; James 1:17; John 3:16-17, Luke 9:23-25).

The apostle Paul’s clear mission for his life was to win as many people for Christ as possible, and if that meant becoming their servant then so be it (1 Corinthians 9:19-24). If I don’t like the songs at church, the way my neighbor takes care of his lawn, the way the person in front of me drives, the schedule I get at work, the food my spouse prepares for dinner, or the political or religious views of someone I don’t even really know…that’s okay. What is not okay and what is never right is to try to hurt someone else, belittle someone else, gossip about someone else or set out to win my own personal battle with someone else.

Let us all strive to become more like Paul who modeled his life after Jesus, and became a servant. I will leave you with something he wrote in Philippians 2:3-8:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.  Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Timothy (Tim) Gunnells started his blog "Desert Spiritual" while living and ministering in the desert in Arizona. He knows the world in which we live is a "dry and weary land where is no water" and souls are thirsting for God (Psalm 63:1). After over two decades in full-time ministry he began working with Amridge University, where he serves as an administrator and an associate professor. He currently lives with his family in the foothills of the Smokies in East Tennessee. Tim is available for retreats, leadership development seminars, and church consulting. He enjoys hiking, singing, spending time with his family and friends, and blogging about Christian spirituality, culture, and life in general. He may be reached at timothygunnells@gmail.com.