Two weeks ago, I posted an entry on self-absorption. As a reminder, God’s Word says, in Romans 12:3, don’t think of yourselves more highly than you ought. Self-absorption and pride can become an idol in our lives that separate us from our Heavenly Creator. There is, however, an opposite extreme: self-hatred.
You may be thinking, isn’t self-hatred the ultimate sign of humility? After all, you are thinking of yourself as lower than others…
Jesus says in Mark 9:35, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant to all.”
I’ll return to what Jesus says in Mark 9:35 at the end of the entry. But first, I would like to share a quote from Beth Moore that says, “Constantly thinking little of ourselves is still thinking constantly of ourselves.” That’s right. Self-hatred is nothing but another example of pride (arguably the worst of all sins).
With this being said, our perspective can be misleading when we think that what Jesus says in this verse is simply is to make ourselves last by hating ourselves and letting our insecurities exist because, well, at least we don’t see ourselves as better than others, right?
As athletes, we live in a world that is constantly about competition and performance. Self-hatred can come pretty quickly.
I know I don’t have the best throwing arm on the team. Sometimes I catch myself thinking that to not be the best is to be the worst. This simple act of not being the best can spur doubt and a desire to be someone I’m not. I think of myself as so low and convince myself I will lose my starting position. We can all assume this attitude does not produce the confidence I need to excel in my spring season. So while I compete to be the best outfielder on the team, I can find myself in doubt that I will perform in those pressure situations.
Aristotle said that virtue lies between two extremes—This theory can be applied in how we, as athletes, and as sinful humans, can find humility. It is not self-absorption (in thinking of ourselves higher than we ought), nor is it self-hatred (because to doubt ourselves is to doubt our very creator).
So what is the solution? Let’s return to Mark 9:35, where it says, “…and the servant to all.” The solution is to become a servant. Why? That’s what Jesus did.
Matthew 20:28 says, “Just as the son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Philippians 2:5-6 says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!”
We ought to view ourselves as fearfully and wonderfully made by our Father in Heaven. In a confidence that comes from our trust in Him, we seek to serve. It is in this way, by serving others, that we make ourselves last. Not by self-hatred. Making ourselves last in this way, surely, the Father will set us first in His kingdom forever.