March 23, 2010
"Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." Philippians 2:4 (NIV)
One day I got tired of hearing myself talk.
During a time when everything seemed to be going well, I found myself in a whirlwind where God revealed to me that my life was actually out of control. I knew I was walking the path He had laid out for me and it lined up with my passion for helping others. The problem was that I had become so good at it I didn't feel the need to call on God's help anymore.
What I did come to need, however, was others to tell me I was doing a good job. In fact, if someone didn't pat me on the back, I would tell them about my good deeds!
Everywhere I went people told me how skilled I was at doing this particular thing. I had become so adept at it that I figured there was no need to consult God anymore. I stopped praying much about it and would just "do." In the middle of my doing, however, I would make sure and ask others if I was doing it okay.
One day I was talking to someone and God allowed me to see myself, almost like I was listening as an outsider. I hated what I had become. Who was this person? Why was she talking so much? Who cared that she did this or that? Oh my goodness, what had become of me?!
I decided that day to stop talking about myself. I decided to quit depending on other people's thoughts about what I was doing, or how I was doing it. I decided that the only One I needed to impress was God. I knew that it wasn't going to happen without thought and planning. This desire for approval was not going to go away by itself.
First, I sat down and had a good cry. Then I consulted God and prayed. I made a decision to be quiet about myself for 30 days. Whenever I talked to someone, I would not mention "me" at all. I would not recount my accomplishments, my breakthroughs, or my shortcomings. Nothing. I decided to begin listening to others as if hearing them for the first time. If they asked about me, I would simply answer, "I'm doing great, thank you." That's it. No more information. I wanted to turn outward and begin to invest in other people's lives.
Well, 30 days turned into 60 days, and then into 90. I will tell you…I'm different now. My friends would probably agree, but I can honestly say I don't desire their approval anymore. It's funny how when we turn attention away from ourselves, we end up feeling more complete in the end. Because truly, the only thing that completes us is God.
Dear Lord, forgive me for seeking approval from anyone but You. Teach me to be silent so I can hear others and most importantly, hear You. Bring to my attention, in a way that only You can, times when I am becoming self-absorbed during conversations. Thank You for loving me enough to help me grow. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
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Begin listening at home first! For more ideas check out Conversations Starters for the Dinner Table
Spend some time in prayer and sit silently. What is God telling you?
If we practice sitting quietly and listening to our heavenly Father we are sure to become a better friend to those around us. Pray to become a great listener and decide to encourage others in what they are doing well instead of telling them about your good deeds or the good deeds of someone else you know.
When a friend tells me something that's happened to her, do I have to recount a situation that's happened to me or someone else I know? Why not let her tell her story and just listen?
Do I need to set aside some time to be silent and practice listening?
What would I observe if I stepped outside my conversations and looked in? Would I see an encourager or someone who talks a lot about herself or others?
James 1:19, "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry." (NIV)
1 Samuel 2:3, "Do not keep talking so proudly or let your mouth speak such arrogance, for the LORD is a God who knows, and by him deeds are weighed." (NIV)
Jeremiah 9:24, "'But let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,' declares the LORD." (NIV)
© 2010 by Shari Braendel. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105