“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24, NIV 1984).
I may have hurt a man a few months ago. Due to my inadequate supervision of a resident, we delayed following up on a positive CT scan. I saw him this week and told him of the mistake and sent his chart out for peer review. Since I discovered the error, I have been worried, mostly for myself, my reputation, my job, etc. This morning, as I was stretching out my morning stiffness and despairing over the possible harm to my career, I realized my concerns were misplaced. Here was a man whom I might have injured and I am only concerned with the way my mistake affects my own life. I refocused my prayers on my patient, for whom Jesus died.
Why do my thoughts always center on me? In all circumstances, why is my first thought how those circumstances are going to affect my own life? When I need my thoughts to fly outward to others or upward to God, why does the gravity of self-centeredness draw them back to focus on myself?
Claudius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet knew the feeling, “My words fly up; my thoughts remain below. Words without thoughts never to heaven go.”
We know we should be thinking outward, and yet our thoughts refuse and fall back to stick on our self-serving selves.
People of science might say this is just an evolutionary development required for self-preservation.
People of faith would say this is a sign of our fallen nature.
I say it’s a pain in my pineal when I know I am here for others and my thoughts keep focusing inwardly.
I think the only way out is to allow the Christ within me to do my thinking. The mind of Christ on earth was almost always outward focused. Perhaps the two exceptions were His agony in the garden and His temptation in the wilderness, both of which He overcame: one by surrendering to God’s Word and the other by surrendering to the Father.
In my present circumstance with this patient whom I may have harmed:
- Surrendering to God’s Word tells me, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:3-5, NIV 1984).
- Surrendering to the Father is clear as well, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me” (John 14:1, NIV 1984).
Transform my thoughts to where I think like Jesus.