Get over yourself.
That’s the ultimate destination of maturity, both emotionally and spiritually. When I am no longer obsessed and consumed with what I want, how I feel, what makes me happy is when I can truly start living a life that’s worth living. The pursuit of happiness is wonderful and even necessary, but it’s a dead end if it stops with me. God does not intend for our days and our years to be spent in self elevation. We are called to be thankful for all that He has done and given, and to be generous with His gifts, especially those of faith, hope and love.
Take a look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:
This describes the human condition quite well. But do you notice what’s missing? Anyone else!
To be sure, the need for belonging and love involves others, but only from the standpoint of what they do for me.
The top of the pyramid uses words like self-fulfillment and self-actualization, which can be very powerful gifts from God along the journey out of darkness into His marvelous light. When you get to the top, though, you’re the only one there. It really is lonely at the top.
God never leaves us alone, sends us alone, nor saves us alone. He surrounds us with a great cloud of anti-witnesses – people who challenge us, frustrate us, oppose us – and an even greater cloud of true witnesses to the power and love of Jesus Christ. No matter which group of people I face today, they need what I have.
They need the love of Jesus. I have that.
They need hope in a dark and dreary world. I have that.
They need a little joy to cut through the gloom. I have that.
They need a word that builds up rather than tears down. I have that.
They need a hand some times. I have that.
They need a friend, an encourager, a comforter, a savior. I have all of that, too.
For every child of God, thanksgiving isn’t a day in November. It isn’t a fleeting gesture. Thanksgiving isn’t a state of mind. It’s a way of life. Thanksgiving is the daily expression of praise to our life’s Provider and our faith’s Author. Thanksgiving is the humble acknowledgement that my needs have been met in Jesus Christ, and now I seek out other needs that likewise find their fulfillment in my Lord and Savior. Thanksgiving is getting over myself, beyond myself, in willingly investing myself in the lives of those whom God has placed around me.
Thanksgiving is helping. When a project or event comes up at church or in the community, don’t expect someone else to get it done and don’t sit back and wait to be asked. Get up, get out and get involved. As Martin Luther famously said, “God doesn’t need your good works, but your neighbor does.”
Thanksgiving is honoring. What a wonderful happenstance that Thanksgiving shares the month with Veterans’ Day. Honor those who risked everything, who sacrificed their own time and talent and even their lives (in true Christlike fashion) for someone other than themselves. Donate for one of the audio Bible Sticks. Open doors for them. Pay their lunch tab. Stand for the flag they salute and celebrate the nation they defend. Our community servants – police officers, firefighters, emergency personnel – all deserve our honor, too. Give it to them.
Thanksgiving is serving. I know you’re busy; we all are. Set aside your excuses. Commit to serve Christ by ushering others into worship, welcoming them at the front door of God’s House, setting the Table of the Lord for your brothers and sisters in Christ, taking a turn at the tech table so those around you have an even deeper experience in the grace of God, agreeing to serve on a Ministry Team to connect others to Christ, preparing meals, setting up chairs, stacking up chairs, praying for and with people who need, singing and playing music to God for those who love to hear what faith sounds like, and so on and so on. I don’t know what any of this will do for your self-actualization, but I do know what it will do for the people got has placed around you. Contact me when you’re ready.
Thanksgiving is also, of course, giving. It is giving yourself back to God, along with the time, talent and treasure with which He has blessed you for everyday life. Yes, this includes your money. But again, get over yourself: it’s not yours, never was. If you really want a blessed Thanksgiving, be a blessed Thanksgiver. Our offerings are down a little from last year, but the grace of Christ isn’t. We agreed as a Family to be willing and cheerful givers to the mission and ministry Jesus this year. We need to step it up. Our neighbor needs us to step it up.
A verse to think about, pray about, and bring to life: “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)