This past week I was having a conversation with someone who was really frustrated with some people because of how selfish they were. Given the situation she was going through, I could understand where she was coming from; there was clearly some really self-centered actions taking place with absolutely no regard for others. As we were talking about the situation and she was looking for some prayer and encouragement, she asked, “Do people know when they are being selfish?”
I said I didn’t know. And I think that’s probably still the best answer because I don’t know everyone’s heart and I can’t read people’s brains.
But I’ve been thinking about that question a lot the past couple of days. It’s interesting to watch how people act when they are in crowds because it’s fairly easy to spot people who are selfish. You know, taking the last portion of food without asking if anyone else wants it or making sure to get the best seat available without regard for others or ignoring those who clearly have significant needs (children, elderly, disabled) in order to focus on themselves… things like that.
A few years ago people would always tell me how frustrated they were because certain people would be sure to park as close to the front door of our church’s building without any regard for the older couples who had a hard time walking. The more I thought about it, I understood their frustration, especially when I watched a few people who had a lot of needs hobble across our parking lot (where’s the golf cart or valet parking?!).
Anyway, I’m not sure if specific people know they are being selfish, but I think some people do and some people don’t. Some people know they are being selfish, and apparently they don’t care. What can you do about that? Pray for them? Yes. Serve them? Yes. Love them? Yes. All difficult to do, at times.
Others simply don’t know they are being selfish. In fact, they are completely unaware of the fact that their actions are not taking into account the feelings or needs of others. What can you do about that? Probably the same thing as above… pray, serve, and love. And this too can be difficult, especially when it happens time after time.
But I think it’s okay to talk to people too, especially if you’ve been praying for them, serving them, and loving them. When you do that, you model what being a servant looks like, and that’s exactly how Jesus did things.
So do people know they are being selfish? Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t. But regardless, you can pray for them, serve them, and love them. Your in good company if you do.
Luke is a pastor-theologian living in northern California, serving as a co-lead pastor with his life, Dawn, at the Red Bluff Vineyard. Father of five amazing kids, when Luke isn’t hanging with his family, reading or writing theology, he moonlights as a fly fishing guide for Confluence Outfitters. He blogs regularly at LukeGeraty.com and regularly contributes to his YouTube channel.