Ask yourself this question. What if everyone was like me? You may be thinking, “I’m a pretty good person, so the world would actually be a decent place to live!” What if I phrased that question a little differently, and asked you this…what if everyone had your faithfulness, love, and work ethic? Would you answer the same way?
I’ve been thinking about this post for some time, but hesitant about writing it because I knew I had to be 100% transparent with you about my innermost thoughts, and it’s scary to be that vulnerable. What if I share my thoughts, and you don’t like what you hear? What if you think I’m a horrible person?
Even though I have been crippled by those thoughts, I care about helping you more. I want you to know that I’m willing to share this directly from my heart to yours (even though it’s uncomfortable) because I want you to allow yourself to truly consider these questions, and be challenged, just like I was.
Will you allow yourself to be challenged? Will you promise to take a few minutes, and read this post in its entirety, and meditate on the words? (Hide if you must, but please focus on these thoughts because they have the power to help you grow, if you let them.)
All of this was sparked by a sermon our youth pastor preached, appropriately entitled, “What if Everyone was Like Me?” In his discourse, he posed the same questions I asked you, and like any good Christian, I felt pretty good about myself in the beginning. I thought, “I’m faithful and loving! My vision could use a little work, but overall…I’m still feeling pretty good. Work ethic? I’m a hard-worker.”
Honestly, I figured I could use a little work in all of the areas, but overall, I was confident that the world would be a great place if everyone had the same qualities as me. (Yeah, I was getting a little bit built up in pride, and do you know what the Bible says about pride? “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18 KJV.)
It wasn’t until a few days had gone by that I really took an introspective look at where I ranked on these “amazing qualities.” It was in that moment I realized deep down that I had some glaring shortcomings, and I needed to do something about them. So, I took each question individually, and I wrote my thoughts.
What is everyone had my faithfulness?
I had felt pretty good about this when the sermon first began because I had chosen faithful as my 2016 word of the year. I had been working on being more faithful in every aspect of my life from my Bible study to my cooking habits. There had been some growth, but I had allowed that to blind me to the fact that I was being faithful just for the sake of being faithful.
It occurred to me that I was being faithful because I thought I SHOULD be, not because I WANTED to be! Reflecting back to the original question, it became apparent that if every person had the same faithfulness I had, we’d all be doing good things for the wrong reasons. Honestly, I didn’t feel very good about that because faithfulness out of obligation creates burn out very quickly.
For any of us to be truly faithful, long-term, there has to be a personal decision to be selfless. In other words, we can’t be faithful because we “need” to be. If you choose this path, you will find burn out eminent. Have you ever allowed yourself to do the right thing with the wrong attitude? Maybe you need to take an honest look at your motivation for being faithful.
What if everyone had my love?
Once my eyes were opened to the fact that I needed an adjustment in faithfulness, I found myself none too happy with the amount of love I was showing either. On the outside, I was doing great! Always smiling and encouraging others, while on the inside, there were times I was being critical and judgmental.
It became evident to me that I was showing love, but I didn’t genuinely embody love in my heart. At that point, I was glad no one could see what was going through my mind because I was nowhere to be found on the scale of loving others. Yet, here I am today, choosing to share these obvious shortcomings with you, and it hurts.
Why does it hurt to be this transparent with you? Well, mostly because I am so blessed. Jesus Christ saved me by His amazing grace, and yet I don’t extend that same grace to others. Honestly, it makes me ashamed to even admit it.
When this revelation struck, my pride was hurting badly, and it became evident very quickly just how little I truly knew about my own attitudes and motivation.
What if everyone had my work ethic?
I have to tell you, I‘m a hard worker! When I was teaching school, I gave 100% and more. Unfortunately, it took so much out of me that I had nothing left for my family when I got home. My work ethic was completely consuming my priorities.
And guess what? I still have the same struggle even today. In theory, my priorities are the Lord, family, and everything else, but looking at how I spend my time, you might be confused. I find myself so absorbed in one given area of my life that I end up with tunnel vision. All of my time, attention, and energy is focused in that one direction.
From the outside, it looks like I’m a truly dedicated hard-worker, but on the inside, it tears me apart. Because it’s impossible to be everything to everyone, I find my relationships with the Lord, my husband, and my kids beginning to slip. I get so overwhelmed with putting out the daily fires that I lose sight of the order of my priorities.
I’ve confused doing my best with doing it all. Does that sound familiar?
I want you to do exactly as I did, and write down your thoughts about these questions. Think about these as general questions, but then consider how they apply specifically to certain areas of your life. Ask yourself…
- What if my kiddos had the same level of faithfulness, love, and work ethic that I exhibit? What sort of feelings would that evoke in me?
- How faithful am I in my marriage, friendships, and relationships?
- How loving am I to the elderly person in front of me at the store who is moving slowly when I’m running late?
- What kind of work ethic do I want my kiddos to imitate? Am I procrastinating constantly? Am I displaying great work ethic, but misplaced priorities?
Meditate on the words that I’ve shared. Not because they’re profound, but because they have the ability to help you grow as a person and a teacher. I believe in you, and I appreciate you.