Don’t Take Yourself too Seriously
Sometimes, I think we take ourselves way too seriously. And as things turn out, it’s a syndrome that’s ruining many a life today. So here are four simple tips for, well … lightening up on yourself just a little bit:
1. Stop Insisting on Your Entitlements
It’s amazing the things we get annoyed about these days. Can you believe how long that waitress is taking to bring my coffee? … or … I deserve better from the pastor at church! After all, doesn’t he realise how much I give each month? … or … That idiot! Why couldn’t he put his indicator on before hanging a left? … or …
You know what those things are called these days, don’t you? “First world problems”. And it’s amazing how busy we are, getting stressed over the things that we think we’re entitled to. It’s almost as though we’re expecting a perfect world, right?!
So, let’s just get all that stuff into perspective for a moment. Jesus:
If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? (Matthew 16:24-26)
It’s truly amazing how many burdens are lifted off our shoulders when we stop insisting on the myriad of things that we think we’re entitled to and start submitting to Jesus with a good heart, in the little things as well as the big things of life.
The result, is a whole bunch more peace, and a whole lot more joy. Go figure!
2. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
How much time, I wonder, do you spend comparing yourself with the people around you? Your lot with their lot. Your financial position with their financial position. Her husband with your husband. The car he drives with the car you drive. The house they live in with the house you live in. The things their children are achieving with …
I think what we do is that we cherry-pick all the good things in the lives of the people around us and create a composite picture of what we think the perfect life looks like.
When you think of it that way, you get to realising that you’re setting yourself up for a lifetime of failure and disappointment.
As far as the Apostle Paul was concerned, that’s not such a smart thing to do:
We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another, and compare themselves with one another, they do not show good sense. (2 Corinthians 10:12)
Bottom line? God has a unique plan for your life, with plenty of ups and just a few downs. His plan for that person over there is completely different. It’s time we made peace with that fact … because when we do, we become much less touchy and a whole lot more relaxed about who we are and the lot that we’ve been given.
3. Stop Worrying So Much What Other People Think
For the first thirty-six years of my life, I was so desperately concerned about what you and everybody else thought of me. I wanted you to think the best of me, to admire me, to speak well of me … to look at me and think to yourself “Man, I wish I was more like Berni Dymet. He has it all!”
How stupid is that?
And yet, how many people – even people who believe in Jesus – live out their lives as “people pleasers”? Trying to make everybody happy. Trying to march to the beat of other people’s drums … and in doing so, completely losing sight of who God made them to be and what He made them to do.
Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.
But these days, and don’t get me wrong, but frankly I don’t care all that much what other people think of me. Am I perfect? No. Do I, like the next guy, need to listen to good advice? Absolutely!
But I am not going to spend my life trying to please a bunch of fickle people. Fortunately that’s something that Jesus figured out nice and early in His public ministry:
When he was in Jerusalem during the Passover festival, many believed in his name because they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people. (John 2:23-24)
And as things turned out, He was absolutely right!
Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. (John 6:66)
A few decades later, the Apostle Paul put it like this:
Am I now seeking human approval, or God’s approval? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still pleasing people, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)
4. Poke Fun At Yourself
The sign of a person who is comfortable with who they are, where God has them, and what He has them doing … is that they’re able to make fun of themselves. Not out of a position of insecurity, not as a doormat – but as a son or daughter of the living God who entrusts their very being into His hands.
You know what – I do some stupid things sometimes (just ask my wife). Hopefully a few fewer stupid things this year, than last year and the year before that.
But … we all make mistakes, right? We all have blind spots. We all have inherent weaknesses.
And from time to time, that’s something to laugh at ourselves about. How awesome is it, when we’re living our lives so much in the knowledge that God is with us, that He has a plan for us, that He has a future ready and waiting for us, and that, like any great dad, He’s ready to pick us up, dust us off and set us back on our way when we stumble – that we’re able to stop taking ourselves too seriously.
That’s something to be truly, truly delighted about.
So lighten up, give yourself a break, smile, laugh, laugh a lot …
For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. (Ephesians 2:10)