Having a Legit View of Yourself

This morning I got to share my heart with some guys at The Grove at a men's gathering we call The Huddle. The idea was to teach others from what God has been doing in my own heart and life, and so I addressed the topic of having a proper, healthy, and centered view of one's self. Here's a few excerpts from the talk:

The text was Romans chapter 12

3  For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. 17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,”[a] says the Lord. 20 Therefore  “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

I built the following diagram to help illustrate what it might look like to have a "legit" view of yourself...

Screen shot 2009-10-21 at October 21, 8.13 AM

NOT TOO LOFTY: It can be easy to have an elevated view of yourself, to "think more highly of yourself than you ought" as Paul wrote in verse 3 above. We all know the type... it's the person who only listens to what you're saying long enough so that they can counter your story with a story of their own. It's the person who constantly wants to take credit for things they had little or nothing to do with ("Did you notice how we shook that bridge!?" -a flea to the elephant he was riding after they crossed an old bridge). It's the person who is quick to tell you about themselves, and slow to ask you about you. But just as quickly as we can identify someone in our life who is like that, we may just as easily have the same said of us. Verse 10 above says, "be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another." I went to college with twin brothers Nick and Alex Plato, and they lived this principle out more than anyone I've ever known. When you're with them, you truly feel like you matter, you truly feel like you're important and interesting... because they make you feel that way. They actually are interested in you and what you have to say. It's so refreshing to be around them, and others like that. Having a too LOFTY view of yourself is not legit.

NOT TOO LOW: On the flip slide, and usually closely related, is having a too low view of yourself. Getting stuck in destructive thought patterns about who you are and what you do. Not allowing for the freedom and forgiveness found in Christ to release you of guilt and shame. Sometimes we forget the high view God has placed on us. So high, in fact, that he sent is only Son to this world to redeem and renew us. Verse 6 above says, "having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them!" God has given us gifts and expects us to use them. When we get stuck with a too low view of ourself, we become useless. Know who you are in Christ, and believe what God thinks and feels about you. Having a too LOW view of yourself is not legit.

NOT TOO LATERAL: Finally, we can get caught up in having a too lateral view of ourselves, and by that I mean we look outward at others and play the compare game. We define ourselves over and against those around us. Often times this comes in the vicious form of envy and jealousy. "Envy," Erwin Lutzer says, "is rebellion against God's leading in the lives of His children. It's saying that God has no right to bless someone else more than you." A lateral view of yourself says, "I wish I was more like that person," or "I wish I had what that person has." Paul above in verse 3 points out that "God deals to people their measure of faith," and in 4 "we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function." It is extremely unhealthy to forget that God made us who we are for a reason, and it does no one any good to compare that to the person next to us. Envy of those around us will eat away at you and destroy you, like the Greek legend about the runner up in an epic race who, each night, snuck in to the giant statue they made for the winner of the race and chipped away at the base of the statue. In spite he hoped one day the statue would collapse and break. And it did, but it did so on him and killed him. He was crushed under the weight of his own jealousy. Having a too LATERAL view of yourself is not legit.

WORKING TOWARDS A LEGIT VIEW OF YOURSELF: So maybe as you hear these three unhealthy views of yourself, one/two/or all three of them jump out at you as an area you'd like to work on. So I offer three simple things you can do to help establish a more LEGIT view of who you are.

1) If you struggle with having a too LOFTY view: When you're in the room with other people, repeat this mantra in your head, "I am the least important person in the room... I am the least important person in the room." This can help you to engage with others, and be interested in them, and you'll find yourself not thinking to highly of yourself, but giving preference to others.

2) If you struggle with having a too LOW view: Remember how God thinks and feels about you. Remember that the Spirit of the Living God dwells inside of you, giving you faith, courage, hope, and power. Repeat in your head, "God loves me and God likes me." It can be easy sometimes to forget that God actually likes you... He smiles when he looks upon you. He is proud of you.

3) If you struggle with having a too LATERAL view: Take the advice of Paul in verse 15 above to "Rejoice with those who rejoice!" This is a much forgotten art in Christendom. Too seldom we get bitter, resentful, or jealous when our brothers and sisters are showered in blessing or good fortune. Rather, let us rejoice with them, and allow that to shape our envy into love and respect.

As always, I welcome any comments or thoughts.

Blessings, and grace to you.