Whenever I meet someone who excels in their work, and also seems to enjoy it, I ask what motivates them.
Case and point: I have the most amazing dental hygienist! She is efficient and professional, but also caring and conscientious. So at my last appointment I asked her, “What drives you to such excellence in your work?”
I expected her to say something like she aspired to be at the top of her field, live up to her highest potential, etc. But that’s not what she said.
Instead, she told me how her own mother had lost all her teeth at a young age, and that this had negatively affected her self esteem. What drives my dental hygienist to excellence is her desire to help others protect their oral health–to avoid what her mother experienced.
Frankly, I was floored by such selfless dedication. My mind was tuned to an egotistical bandwidth, a self-centered preoccupation with gratifying my own desire to be the best. On the other hand, she was on an altruistic bandwidth, an unselfish devotion and concern for the welfare of others was her highest aim.
On my drive home, the self-sacrificial advice of Paul to the Philippians came to mind.
Do nothing out of self ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look out not only to your own personal interests, but also to the interests of others.Philippians 2:3-4
Paul then holds up the attitude of Christ as an example; He was fully God, yet chose to become human and humbled Himself in obedience to God’s redemptive plan.
Christ literally loved us to the death!
I’m not trying to sound sacreligious, but imagine what it would have been like had Jesus been an egomaniac. This is what Satan wanted (Luke 4:1-13). It was also the desire of many of Jesus’ followers. John 6:15 says He withdrew to a mountain by Himself when he realized the people intended to make him king by force.
Maintaining a Christ-like attitude concerning the self can be a slippery slope.
As Christians we cringe when we hear the words self-centered, self-indulgent and self-serving, but what about self-sufficiency, self-confidence and self-discovery?
ALL of these involve a preoccupation with SELF.
I don’t know if my dental hygienist is a Christian, but God used her to remind me how a true believer in Jesus Christ should think.
He must become greater; I must become less.John 3:30