Sometimes it has to be about you

By Juan Carlos Del Valle

In my early ministry days, like a broken record, well intentioned people used to say: “It is not about you Juan Carlos. If you want God to use you, don’t focus on you. If you want to make a difference in this world it cannot be about you.” Really? I think that statement sounds very pious, but it will certainly fall short of veracity if confronted with a serious objective analysis. This is why: Sometimes people repeat what they hear instead of examining the statement themselves carefully. There are many different reasons for that attitude. Among them are social influence, cognitive biases and personal experience. Also when the source of information is trusted without critical analysis, then it is much easier to propagate falsehood and misinformation. There is a tendency to blindly accept anything that comes from people we trust.
A statement may sound really good when we hear it, but it will fail the test of veracity if it lacks evidence, coherence and consistency when examined closely. Intelligent scrutiny can uncover, logical fallacies, contradictions and gaps in reasoning.
Here is another perspective to consider: If you want to be successful in your endeavors to the point where your contribution to the world will make a difference in the lives of those who are less fortunate, then it has to be about you. You must focus on yourself first. Here’s why. Jesus said that the “blind cannot lead the blind” and that means that you have to be stronger, wiser and in a much better financial position than the people you are trying to help. If you want to help the poor, then you can not be one of them. How can you give generously to those in need if you don’t have enough? How can you show emotional support, empathy and patience to someone if you are emotionally depleted? How can you encourage people to be courageous and strong if you are weak, fearful and indecisive?
When God called me to follow in the steps of Jesus I was 23 years old. At that time there was a powerful Jesus movement type of revival sweeping across the Methodist church in Cuba. I became the president of the Methodist Youth League and the fire of God burned daily in the innermost part of my soul. The desire to please the Lord led me to become a controversial leader. I was admired, respected and celebrated by many. On the other hand, others tolerated, rejected and showed a very sophisticated kind of contempt against my leadership. Now I can clearly see why. At that time, I was young and inexperienced. The unchecked passion I had drove me to lead a nation wide campaign to promote a life of self denial among the youth. I wanted the youth to reflect the life of God in all they did. That was good and served a great purpose at the time. However, there were other great young men that misguided by unchecked false humility, a life of self denial led them into self sabotaging their lives. They didn’t care for money so there was no need to work, they didn’t care for their appearance so there was no need to dress well. It was all about “their way or no way” type of attitude. Their main goal was not to win souls and make disciples, instead they were bent on winning arguments and gaining followers. They failed miserably: lost credibility and burned meaningful relationships. The problem with these people was obvious: they wanted so bad to prove that God was right that they failed miserably to show He was real. They also became sworn enemies of education, self improvement and intellectual inquiry. As a result they lost their influence and missed an amazing opportunity to be part of the new emerging generation of leaders and influencers. One of the mainstream teachings then was that the Lord was coming soon and the world as we know it was coming to an end.
Let me go straight to my point. Here is what “being about you really means.” It means that before attempting to save someone from the hideous tentacles of the unlived life, you have to be in a position of strength rather than one of weakness. You have to rise above and not be beneath, you have to be the head and not the tail, you have to be blessed and not cursed. After all, isn’t that the kind of life that God promised to the obedient. Even the apostle John realized that when he wrote: “Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in good health, even as your soul prospers.” Here is the catch, “even as your soul prospers.”
Your financial strength and being in good health are great gifts from God. However, the health of your soul depends on being self aware of your weaknesses and then having the discipline and the courage to work towards the development of a godly and virtuous life. Discipline and courage are necessary because growth is something that happens daily and not in a day, it takes commitment that ultimately leads to the strength and health of your emotional life. Being emotionally strong is one of the greatest virtue a man can have. It means having the ability to cope with challenges, setbacks, and difficult emotions in a resilient manner. Emotionally healthy individuals are the best friends to have around you. They are resilient, adaptable, self aware and have the ability to set healthy boundaries. These strong souls are good at navigating through life’s ups and downs with a positive outlook and a sense of divine purpose. That strength enables them to support others in their own emotional journey through the wild fires and the cool breezes of life. That’s why at the beginning of this article I said that if you want to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate then it has to be about yourself.
The truth is that you must take care of yourself first if you want to take care of others. Think about this, If you love your neighbor more than yourself, then you are more righteous than what God expects you to be. The commandment says “love your neighbor as your self” not more than yourself. Denying your most essentials basic needs is not an act of self sacrifice instead is an act of self sabotage. Remember Ecclesiastes 7:16: “Do not be overly righteous…Why should you destroy yourself.”

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