It’s All About Me

“It’s not about you, it’s about Him. Because of God’s empowering presence, you can do some very significant things today.”

This was a status update on FaceBook by Gary Thomas today, 9 February 2012. I am not picking specifically on Gary here. I have great respect for him and his writing. I do have some strong feelings on the sentiment behind this quote, and I have heard the “it’s not about you” mantra too many times to merely let it go by again.

First, most times I have heard it, it is used as a club. “It’s not about you” could truthfully be translated as, “It’s all about me.” Or, “It’s all about you doing what I think you should do, which is probably not what you think you should do.”

But I would counter that it is all about me, (or you, as the one reading this) for I am the only one I have any control over. I am the only common thread in all my experiences, thoughts, actions and omissions. This very truth is betrayed in Gary’s quote. “It’s not about you…you can do….” If it’s not about me, why bring it back to me? Why lay the responsibility of doing something back in my lap?

I do agree with what I think to be the underlying spirit of this sentiment. I agree with it because Jesus taught it.

And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
(Mark 9:35 ESV)

This I heartily agree with. This I think is the intent of the “it’s not about you” rhetoric. But it subtly tries to sidestep, or obscure responsibility I think.

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.
(Revelation 20:12 ESV)

I will not be judged by what other people have done, but by what I have done and failed to do. So, on one very significant level, it is all about me. I have dominion over my actions, if nothing else. Even the most repressed slave has dominion over their actions. They still have a choice to obey or disobey, to serve cheerfully or begrudgingly or to resist.

This hearkens back to the great debate of history; do we have free will, or are we products of the way things are (materialistically, spiritually or otherwise)? If there is no free will, then it is true, that it is not about me. It is about forces outside of me and my illusion of choice. Indeed my illusion of choice is merely that, an illusion, if there is no free will. If I do have a will, a capacity to make a true decision, then, suddenly, it is about me, because I have responsibility to choose, and  my choices have implications, lead to other choices and exclude other choices. They involve others, the are within or outside of the law of man and the law of God.

So I will say, “It is all about me!” Not with the selfish narcissism of  a spoiled brat, but with the humble sobriety of one who has been confronted with the question, “Choose this day whom you shall serve.” My choices reflect who I serve, either my own interests alone, or the interest of an “other.” Am I altruistic? If I am, it is still my decision to be so, and I still see some reason to be so. No rational being makes a decision to act completely against self-interest. I may defer some perceived reward. I may make short-term actions for long-term goals.  I (not often enough) turn down a cookie for the long-term self interest of maintaining a healthy weight. But either decision I make about the cookie, I make it based on my self-interest and my belief that I have a choice.

I agree with Gary. I can do some very significant things today. Ultimately, whether I do or not, is up to me.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Gary Thomas, Power of Words, Servanthood

One response to “It’s All About Me

  1. Leslie

    I understand that when some people say, “It’s not about you,” they mean that you need to think less of yourself and be a servant as Jesus states. But it seems like Gary is getting at a different thought. By yourself, you will do nothing lasting, but with God’s empowering, you can do significant things. In that sense, those significant things only come about through God, so therefore, it’s not about you, but about Him. You will “do” things either way, on your own or with Him, but what makes those things significant is His power. Coming back to your point, however, we are the ones who make the choice to let it be about Him or keep it all ourselves.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s