“Self is one of the toughest plants that grows in the garden of life.”
— A.W. Tozer (1897–1963)
BOASTING and belittling of ourselves is a temptation of pride and we are all tempted. Whilst both are at opposite ends of the spectrum, both occur because of the focus on self.
It can seem that boasting and belittling of ourselves is a highly visible thing where we prove ourselves prone to one or both in the normal flow of life. It’s not actually the case most of the time, especially with those who partake in analyses of self (truthful or otherwise).
Many of us will do these things unconsciously. Others will obtain ‘data’ from real life and assimilate it as a performance record – “How am I going?” There are reams of other ways we engage in this priory of self.
The Spiritual Discipline of Self-Awareness
In emotional intelligence terms, there is great personal and interpersonal benefit in engaging in what I call the spiritual discipline of self-awareness.
There is less of a problem with this focus on self when there is self-awareness – when we are aware that we are boasting or belittle of ourselves.
Indeed, as we become more and more self-aware we will take up the cudgels of God’s correction – to spurn this focus on self (apart from what might be gleaned for self-esteem purposes) and use such focus to concentrate on others.
And I guess there is no use in spurning this focus on self when God intends us to use it to a certain extent to gain relief from belittling ourselves.
But we must surely know that as we journey with God through his Word and through spending time with him in prayer our self-esteem tends to take care of itself, because we are bathing in his Presence all the time.
The journey beyond tyranny of self takes its mark from a focus on God.
The more we focus on the things of God – to lose ourselves in God – the more we lose interest in the things of the self. This is truly a blessing. There is nowhere near the allure about the self, or selfish things, when we bear thought for the things of God.
The journey beyond tyranny of self takes its mark from a focus on God. The more we focus on God the fewer burdens we carry for ourselves and the lighter and more joyful we come to be.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.