Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
I have been reading these verses over and over the past few days/weeks. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in things–tasks to complete, to-do lists to accomplish, career ladders to climb, people to see. While I don’t feel we are called to be total people-pleasers, I fear sometimes we can sway too far the other way. If people-pleasing is a natural tendency, sometimes we overcompensate by trying to fight off that urge to people-please but forget to continue to truly value others. I think it’s healthy to have boundaries and to take care of ourselves. Sometimes it means saying “no” to a good thing. If we were always running on empty, it’d be pretty hard to be effective at serving others.
Yet it still says here quite plainly to “value others above yourselves” in humility.Whew. That’s a tall order. So how do I find the balance? What does that mean for today and tomorrow and the next day? How can I better put someone’s interests before mine? How does that impact my decisions and my speech?
The first verse is also incredibly striking– “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.” I think the adjective attached to the word ambition matters. Having goals and ambitions can be good as it motivates and inspires us, but selfish ambition is what we are told to avoid. Finding that line between ambition and selfish ambition isn’t easy. I think our society often praises selfish ambition, but that doesn’t make it right. I have to remember to ask, where does this ambition come from? Who does it serve? What does this ambition lead to?
I don’t know the answers. The best I can do is to continue to read and pray. I know I fall short here. All the time. But I want to continue to think through what it truly means. I want to live in humility, I want to toss away selfish ambition, I want to look to the interests of others.
Lately, I’ve really noticed a need for quiet, a need for space and time alone. I pack my schedule tight and love people. I love hearing their stories and being a friend. But the more time I spend with others, the more I’m wanting time alone in the quiet to write or read or frankly, just lay on the couch and watch TV. It’s not glamorous, but it matters.
We threw a party about a month ago, and it was so much fun. We love seeing people we know from different avenues of life all come together in one room. About every hour or so I snuck away. I stood alone in the dark of my bedroom and just breathed it in. I loved that people were there enjoying themselves. I loved seeing so many people all at once and building stronger relationships with them. But I also loved my secret moments of quiet and darkness. I’ve never felt so comfortable walking away and knowing it was okay to do so. No one noticed, not even the husband.
As I sit on the porch this beautiful sunny Sunday morning, I cherish the quiet. I get to breathe in the calm of the morning as the breeze rustles the bushes and the sun warms my toes. The month of March is already packed full, and it’s hardly just begun. Full of friends and out-of-town guests, new challenges and a trip across the country. I’m looking forward to all of it, but I’m also going to consciously seek out the moments like these.
We live in an extroverted world, but we aren’t all extroverted. Even if we may seem like it.
I don’t often write in poetry form, maybe because I don’t really know the official rules or because my rhymes are usually a stretch. That said, I have recently found that I enjoy writing lyrics for some of the hubby’s songs. This morning is a morning of reflection and in a notebook of miscellany I found a Sunday morning poem I’d already written months ago. It seemed to capture the same sentiment of today so I thought I’d share it despite some of it’s inconsistent patterns.
Wake up to the quiet glory of the early Sunday morning Thankful for all you’ve done Staring out to rays of sun
There’s a certain mystery to the direction of the trees Luscious green, rolling clouds crashing waves, windy days
In the morning, I will sing of your love Show me where I should go Because my morning is yours
This is the morning, your morning Let me sing loudly of your love tiptoe into the day, keep on faithfully May it be with peace and with love
“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.”– Psalm 143:8
Yesterday we hit the beach. Despite a house full of boxes and a long to-do list, I’m so glad we went. I’m not sure that I can ever get tired of going to be by the ocean. There’s something about it that releases my worries for a moment and gives an incredible calm.
There’s something about the ocean that is supreme. All around it feels like a celebration with brightly colored umbrellas and children screaming with glee. Yet at the same time, there is a surpassing peace as the waves tumble back and forth. There is power in those waves, yet floating among them grants a sense of comfort and contented ease. While it may be noisy surrounded by all of that unbridled joy, the waves still overcome and quiet the sound.
It reminds me of God and all of His glory. He’s here, powerful as ever, yet a comfortable place of peace. I know his strength cannot be matched but I am able to find rest. There is so much to celebrate and praise Him for, but no song of worship or shout of joy can ever compare to the magnitude of His love and what He’s done for us.