What about me?! What about my side?! What about my team, my people, my perspective, WHAT ABOUT ME!!?
This sentiment gets expressed in so many ways doesn’t it?
It certainly got expressed to my parents as I was growing up when I thought my sisters were getting something I wasn’t. How unfair, unjust it was when they got the larger piece of cake or the extra half hour up before bed time. But of course, like most children, I got that turnabout reality parents often receive when I had to hear those same complaints from my kids when Robin and I made similar decisions affecting them!
I hear similar sentiments now as a Superintendent sometimes when our VCI teams identify the need for churches to focus on outreach and the people who aren’t in the church yet. The response is so often, “what about me! What about my desires and preferences?”
My mind was drawn to this issue this past week as I heard the news reports of the Muslim worshipers targeted by the driver of a car in London. I went there in my head because as I heard the story of the attack, I was reminded of some voices I have heard over the last year both on social media and in other arenas claiming that when the Muslim community is the target, the media and others get all upset and report the tragedy in significant ways, but you “don’t hear anything about Christians who are persecuted.” “What about me”, “What about us” has been a response I have heard from some circles.
Of course the reality is that any persecution is incredibly tragic and painful and so far from what any genuine person of any faith would seek. But as a follower of Christ it seems to me that my last response to another’s pain ought to be “what about me, what about my pain?” As followers of Jesus we are constantly called to put others above ourselves, to see the need of the one we might lift up. So when our response is self-focused, when we constantly clamor for our rights, pointing out how poorly we have been treated in whatever setting or circumstance, it often causes us to miss the opportunity to care for the needs of the other.
Many of Jesus teachings identify clearly our calling to be the ones who don’t look for places where we might have been missed, overlooked, or supposedly discounted. Jesus instead invites us to let go of score keeping and become the servants of all. Oh I know, it’s not easy for us. It takes a real focus and lots of prayer to get there. And I for one have a long way to go. But spending our lives in “what about me” mode is the opposite of the way our faith invites us to live. In fact I think Jesus said something about those who cling to their lives, their “rights,” their privilege, and those who instead give their lives away, giving themselves up on behalf of others. I believe his suggestion is that genuine happiness and purpose come from the latter, and deep loss from the former.
You can check for yourself, but I’m pretty sure that’s what he said.