Tag Archives: selfishness

Eugene Peterson on American Ambitions

“Competitive ambition and the accompanying disciplines that bring about its achievement can be pursued, and more often that not are pursued, without conscience, without love, without compassion, without humility, without generosity, without righteousness, without holiness. Which is to say, quite apart from maturity. Immature entertainment celebrities routinely walk out on their families. Immature scholars and scientists who collect Nobel Prizes make do with estranged and godless lives. Immature star athletes regularly embarrass their coaches and fans by infantile and adolescent, sometimes criminal, behavior.

These are the men and women who set the standards for a life fueled by ambition, getting to the top, making a name for themselves, beating out the competition. These are the men and women who provide the images and examples for North Americans of what it means to be standout human beings. Do any of us want to live, I mean really LIVE, that way? Is that living? Has that ever, in the entire history of humankind, been living—fully alive?

I don’t think so. And I don’t think many other people think so when they stop to think, if they ever do. The misery, the emptiness, the superficiality, the boredom, the desolation that accompanies this kind of living is devastating, not only to the individuals involved but to their families and communities. And the seepage of such lives into our culture—for no man is an island unto himself—impoverishes us all.”

Eugene H. Peterson, Practice Resurrection: A Conversation on Growing Up in Christ (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2012), 90-91.

Me. Me. Me!

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3 NIV84)

For the modern American, there are few words that are more impossible to understand in their full depth and more unlikely to be applied in their full scope than the words “put others first.” (Although, “slower traffic keep right” is a close second; but doesn’t that require thinking of others?) From a young age, we are taught that we have to look out for number one in this dog-eat-dog world. Our entire culture encourages a mentality of self-centeredness and selfishness. These ideas are foreign to us: loving our neighbors; doing unto others as we would have them do unto us; thinking of others as more important than us. But they are the core of who God is slowly turning us into.

I pray that, by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, I may grow in this area every day.