In counseling school, our instructors told us that a good counselor took time to be reflective and self-aware.
That seems like appropriate advice for the Christian life as well.
I have recently revisited a book by an author, Bob Mumford. In it, he presents seven concepts he terms “giants.” My latest reflections concern these attributes.
It seems to me our world increasingly exhibits these seven precepts. Unfortunately, I see them all too clearly in myself.
The following are the principles, with a brief description.
1. Look good. This is an over concern for appearance or image rather than character. This is not solely about appearance, but also about creating a reputation or “vibe.”
2. Feel good. This is about avoiding pain or discomfort at any cost. This is being committed to personal pleasure or gain. The search for this controls the emotions and is probably the first cause of compulsive and addictive behaviors.
3. Be right. The inability to admit we are wrong. A person committed to this is focused, controlled, and overly committed to his or her own evaluations, ideas, and concepts.
4. Stay in control. This is the person who demands to have their hands on the steering wheel. There tends to be great anxiety regarding the future because it is beyond control. If this person is not in control, they have doubts about their safety and the safety of those around them.
5. Have a hidden agenda. This creates a user; a person who seeks to use life, people, and every situation to advance his or her own interests.
6. Take personal advantage. Using others to accomplish his or her own agenda. This person is constantly maneuvering for title, position, or recognition. If they are not the center of attention, they suffer envy and pain.
7. Remain undisturbed. A person unwilling to be inconvenienced, even though it is for an obvious good.
As a member of the Christian community, what is my response to this conviction?
Primarily, I need to make sure my internal house is in order. Are my beliefs and my lifestyle coherent and congruent? Unfortunately, due to the nature of a self-centered life, I probably cannot answer that question on my own. I have a wife and children, and I have good friends. If I am bold and humble enough, I am certain they can answer the question for me with certitude and conviction. My challenge is to allow God to rout out the seven principles, using my community and his Holy Spirit.
This calls to mind a scene from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” by C.S. Lewis. One of the characters, Eustace, is a clear example of self-centered living. It turns out that in this magical world Eustace is transformed into a dragon by “greedy, dragonish thoughts.” The thick dragon skin is a metaphor for Eustace’s selfish lifestyle, and he finds he can’t peel it off himself. The God-figure, Aslan the Lion, ultimately has to deliver Eustace by peeling of the dragon skin with his gentle yet fearsome paws.
This redemption story holds the hope I need. I can yet be delivered from the seven giants.
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