by Brandy Webb
Humans in general can tend to be very selfish and sometimes egocentric. Some may call it our survival instincts. But usually I believe, we just we like to get our way, and we do not like it when we don’t. However, I have long figured out that things usually do not go our way, and that people don’t always agree with my opinions either. In fact, the world does not and will never revolve around me, so I better get over myself if I want to enjoy life in general.
A famous psychologist named Jean Piaget, studied human behavior in children. He is remembered for developing Cognitive Stages of Development. What I find interesting is that the egocentric stage of development should actually finally end by around age seven. Now, he did admit that his ages were approximations, and sometimes people got stuck in a stage. The description of egocentrism is when one “has difficulty understanding life from any other perspective than his own…[it] is very me myself, and I oriented” (http://www.telacommunications.com/nutshell/stages.htm#note1). In other words, egocentric people seek their welfare before others, and also think that everyone believes the same things as they do. They are incapable of seeing the world from another person’s perspective.
Therefore, when I throw a “fit” when things don’t go my way or get angry at someone because they don’t agree with me, I am reverting to a very young adolescent stage of development. In other words, I am giving into my carnal side rather than listening to God’s Spirit. I am in direct violation to what the Scriptures teach. I am wanting to follow Jesus and He tells us “‘If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”’ (Matthew 16:24). I can’t “deny myself” if I insist on things going my way.
I am realizing to overcome egocentric behaviors is one way to “resist the devil” (James 4:7). It is one way to set us apart from the world and stand up and do what is right. It is not our job to change others. It is our job to change ourselves for the better, so that our example may motivate others to change also.
So, how do we do this? Seek the good for others rather than ourselves (1 Corinthians 10:24). This means that we must not do anything “out of selfish ambition or empty pride, but in humility consider others more important than” ourselves (Philippians 2:3). Therefore, we must be willing to become others-seeking rather than self-seeking. This is way different behavior than the worldly behavior. No more “temper tantrums” when things do not go our way. We are held at a different standard.
The truth is, to break free from egocentrism requires wisdom, and we all know that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 9:10). We must chose who we will fear, revere, the Lord or the world. In the world we see jealousy and selfish ambition reign, which brings “confusion and every evil deed” (James 3:16). However, “wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceful, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (James 3:17). Therefore, let us all strive to follow after wisdom and grow Godly fruit, and to remember that “the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:18). In order to make peace, you must be willing to not always get your way.