Are you a selfish pig? Yes, you are....and so am I.
In my role as Family Minister at a large church, I end up doing pastoral counseling with more than a few couples in marital crisis. They come to my office at varying levels of hurt and bitterness, looking for some relief from the pain that they are experiencing at home. While they are not prone to easily admit it, most of these struggling marriages share a common theme: selfishness. Sure, we talk about the pain from the past and the hurt feelings of today, but when all the layers are peeled back, the biggest obstacle to reconciliation and healing is a prevalence of self-centered thinking.
Until God begins to work on the hearts of the couples I counsel, my pointing out of self-centered behavior usually falls on deaf ears. Most are quick to note the faults of their spouse while justifying their own shortcomings. “Yeah, but he…” is a phrase I hear a lot more than “You’re right, I…” Selfishness is like a cancer in marriage, slowly destroying things from the inside out.
At the core of each of our souls can be found our sinful nature and our selfish heart holding hands and singing “Kumbaya.”
It is the truly sinful part of us that says, “I want my way” and asks, “What is in it for me?” While we are all prone to be selfish, this capacity must be slowly put to death if a marriage is to thrive.
Selfish thinking is at the foundation of the unbiblical belief that God wants us to be happy at all costs. If our spouse fails to read our minds and to meet our every need, we begin to consider the possibility that we married the wrong one. The popular idea that my spouse should “complete me” has led to people seeking a “soul mate” instead of a committed relationship. It has resulted in a multi-million dollar online dating industry that promises to find one the perfectly compatible match. While compatibility is certainly worthwhile, we cannot presume that finding “the one” will free us from the responsibility of hard work and commitment in marriage.
Where do adults in marriage first learn selfish behavior in marriage?
If a dysfunctional marriage is the major leagues of relational selfishness, then dating is the bush league. It is the training ground where young people can learn the four-step cycle of flirt/date/break-up/repeat. This generally-accepted cycle of most dating relationships is fueled almost exclusively by selfishness. When one person doesn’t live up to the other’s (poorly defined) expectations and fails to meet their every need, the relationship becomes unworkable. One of the two becomes disinterested or unsatisfied with the relationship and ends it. Typically, someone moves on and someone has a broken heart. Both have baggage.
As parents, we must consider how we might minimize the baggage our kids end up carrying into adulthood. We must also help them to approach all their relationships from a self-less and Christ-like place. If we can do this, we can minimize the chances that they will one day be sitting in an office like mine, pointing angry fingers of blame and disappointment at their spouses.
What have you done in recent days to put your
selfish tendencies to death? How about in your kids?