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September 8, 2009

'Lord, Save Me From Myself'

As a child I often felt driven not only to succeed, but also to be noticed by my parents and my peers. I wanted others to see me as good enough, worthy and outstanding. As I grew older and became a Christian these drives didn’t disappear. They became christianized. I wanted to show my Heavenly Father that he should be glad he saved me, and that his grace was not poured on me in vain.

Sincerity was not the issue. Rather, self-consciousness and self-focus were. This bothered me because my sin and pride were tightly woven throughout. Once the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to this attitude, I wanted God to control this area of my life. So I prayed and read God’s Word for answers, but was still left with many questions.

Some Scriptures said to focus my ministry and my life on God and God alone. I agreed with those Scriptures. I pursued God and gave him the credit when he used me. Phrases such as, “It wasn’t me; it was Christ working through me,” and “Praise God, praise God” became frequent mantras. Sometimes, however, they sounded pious and insincere. Some people felt awkward when I used those phrases. I began to feel the same.

Over time I focused so much on glorifying Christ that I became irritated with the people I was called to serve. I wanted to flee my earthly responsibilities to be alone with God more and to seek his face. I felt my heart was in agreement with Peter, James and John when they were on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus. I wanted to camp out here. I soon realized I was out of balance.

I then decided I’d become passionate for the lost and hurting. I so dramatically changed my focus to help others that over time, I burned out. I became emotionally and physically depleted as I tried to meet the needs of my family and our growing church. At that point I didn’t know that it was okay to have margins, to let some needs go unmet, or to say no very often. I thought if a need arose, I was supposed to meet it.

After some recovery time, reevaluation, prayer and Bible study, I began to get a healthy balance. Although sometimes I felt confused and defeated, I was determined. I wanted the right balance between seeking God’s glory and having a heart to serve others. Since I am easily distracted, I needed something concrete to focus on.

The Lord then gave me an idea that helped me focus and balance my life. Maybe it will help you if you struggle in this area.

Initially it was necessary to focus my mind and heart on loving the Lord and loving others. Then I sensed the Holy Spirit show me that when I met someone I would look them in the eye and think, “Knowing Christ is the most important thing in my life. How can I help you know him better?” This helped me focus on both the Lord and the other person. It got my eyes off myself and prepared me so that God could use me in that person’s life. This was vastly different from how things were before. Formerly I’d be overly concerned with myself during each social encounter. What does this person think about me? That became my focus. I would come away from an encounter with a person and remember little about her other than what she looked like. As a committed Christian this was unacceptable.

This shift takes persistent practice. With time and determination, however, even if I don’t repeat these words internally, my heart and my mind subconsciously respond. This practice has helped free me from habitual self-focus and has given me a healthier balance between loving God and serving others that I desired.


Wise words. Thank you!

Thanks, Sherryl, for your timely words and your transparency. I, too, live this struggle, and need Him to take my eyes off myself and reorient me to worshiping Him and serving others daily.

Dear Sherryl,
You have penned this well. Isn't there always an opportunity to have the thoughts God wants us to have about others and ourselves and then to move on them? Love does that. I will think about this again today, being 9/11, and know he has such purpose in this day!

Thanks Sherryl, for sharing with us your struggle and wisdom in dealing with our old selves to become more God pleasing than human pleasing :-)

Great, wise question, and one that will form us spiritually in our interactions with others. I REALLY needed to hear this today.

Thank you for your reflections and idea...I'm experiencing exactly the state of being split and off-focus...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and struggles in this area.its been an eye opener for me as well as greatly encouraging.

Let us pray for the 'self centered christians' with their 'health & wealth prosperity gospel' so that they could seek the genuine gospel message. Thank you Sherryl.

I admire your honesty, something that we seldom see even with Christians.
I also have the same kind of struggle and I learned the hard way of forgetting about myself. Thank you for expressing those words for me.

This is very relevant to me also..what I have learnt is that BEIGN is more important than DOING. Blessings to you all.

Thank you SO MUCH for this! This helped me tremendously.

good one

I like your determination and the way GOD used you to free people from bondage. This is the hand of GOD upon your life. I actually benefited from this. Thank you.

Thank you for sharing your struggle and this idea! This is really helpful.

I finally decided to write a comment on your blog. I just wanted to say good job. I really enjoy reading your posts.

Thank you for your honesty and transparency. The Lord brought me to the same conclusion. Thank you for your gracious reminder.

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