Friday, February 23, 2007

Mike Yaconelli on Ego Addiction

I have an addiction.
It's called 'ego addiction.'
It means that I spend most of my waking hours worrying about whether people like me, agree with me, understand me, care about me, want me, respect me, admire me, listen to me. It means that I am dominated by my ego, possessed by it, controlled by it. It means that my vision, my hearing, my understanding must all pass through the filter of my ego.
Not very flattering.
A friend of mine pointed it out. He suggested that one of the symptoms of my ego addiction is 'attachment.' I had never heard that term before in this context. He explained, 'I heard a speaker once who told the audience before he started, If, during my talk, you find yourself disagreeing with my comments or angry or bored and want to leave, go ahead, I am not attached to my comments.'"
"Attached to my comments." Wow! Those words went off like a bombshell in my mind. It was one of those "aha's" of life. I recognized myself in those comments because that is exactly what I do. I attach myself to my words, to my actions, to my children, my job, my faith. If you don't agree with what I say, I take it personally. If you walk out during my talk, it must be something I said. If you miss a Sunday or two at my church, I must have offended you, you don't like me, my theology is not acceptable....
...Mix a good dose of ego addiction with Jesus, and the consequences are frightening. It causes ministers to build huge churches as a monument to their own ego, it causes people to go on television with their "unique ministry," which is another term for "my ministry." It causes people to write books, speak all over the world, abandon their families, their friends, and their neighborhoods so they can respond to the "great need"... which is really the need to be needed....
...How embarrassing it is to come to the third chapter of John. John's popularity was dropping off and Jesus' popularity was growing. Naturally, John's disciples were very upset. John calmed them down and then stunned them by whispering those magnificent words, "He must increase, I must decrease."...
...What if I took those words seriously, detached my ego from Jesus, and started following Him instead? What if I started worrying more about Jesus' reputation and less about my own? Maybe Mike would begin to disappear ... and Jesus would start appearing in my family, in my relationships, in my church ... even in this magazine."
Mike Yaconelli, "Ego Addiction," The Door Magazine, #125, October 1992.

Mark Twain on the German Language

I was gradually coming to have a mysterious and shuddery reverence for this girl; for nowadays, whenever she pulled out from the station and got her train fairly started on one of those horizonless trans-continental sentences of hers, it was born in upon me that I was standing in the awful presence of the Mother of the German language. I was so impressed with this, that sometimes when she began to empty one of these sentences on me I unconsciously took the very attitude of reverence, and stood uncovered; and if words had been water, I had been drowned, sure. She had exactly the German way: whatever was in her mind to be delivered, whether a mere remark, or a sermon, or a cyclopedia, or the history of a war, she would get it into a single sentence or die. Whenever the literary German dives into a sentence, that is the last you are going to see of him till he emerges on the other side of his Atlantic with his verb in his mouth.

Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, 258-9 (chapter 22).

Friday, February 16, 2007

I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward

But why does God not grant to His saints continuous overflowing joy? Since the Lord had magnified Abraham's name among the heathen, he was in danger of becoming guilty of vainglory, for our nature cannot well bear the grace of being honored and of receiving divine benefactions. God therefore for a while turns His countenance away from us and permits us to face great fears and worries. Older people are tempted less by the sins against the second table, such as theft, adultery and murder, than are younger folk. But they are threatened by far greater dangers, namely, by the sins against the first table. They are tempted to trust in their own power and to glory in their own righteousness and wisdom. With these monstrous transgressions the saints must battle throughout their life. by nature we cannot do otherwise than pride ourselves on the gifts which God grants to us, and parade them before the public. Again, when God's blessings are withheld from us, we are inclined to despair. This vicious virus I soon discovered when I studied the various stories of Holy Scripture. Therefore at the beginning of my Gospel ministry, into which God led me in His wonderful way and, so to speak, against my will, I asked Him very earnestly to deliver me from this evil and keep me from so great a sin. God indeed hear my prayer and kept me from this vice, though not to such a degree that I did not feel it. But He burdened me with so many troublesome tasks, worries, dangers and heartaches that I could easily put all vainglory out of my heart."

Martin Luther, Commentary on Genesis 15:1 (Luther's Commentary on Genesis [trans. J. Theodore Mueller; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1958], 1.260)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Watch out for the trap door

It's a funny thing about humility
As soon as you know you're being humble
You're no longer humble
It's a funny thing about life
You've got to give up your life
To be alive
You've got to suffer to know compassion
You can't want nothing if you want satisfaction

Tonight the world looks like a different place
Tonight the moon is turning in its place
Tonight we find ourselves alone at last
Watch out for the trap door
Watch out for the trap door

It's a funny thing about love
The harder you try to be loved
The less loveable you are
It's a funny thing about pride
When you're being proud
You should be ashamed

You find only pain if you seek after pleasure
You work like a slave if you seek out the leisure

Tonight the world looks like a different place
Tonight the moon is shining on your face
Tonight we find ourselves alone at last
Watch out for the trap door
Watch out for the trap door