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Ego

The unholy trinity: me, myself, and I.

The sacrifice you want is a broken spirit. A broken and repentant heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:7

Ashleigh Brilliant, that odd vestige of the seventies who scribbled his offbeat humor on hippie postcards, once penned: "All I ask of life is a constant and exaggerated sense of my own importance." People chortled at that observation thirty years ago. People absolutely live by it today.

Is egoism one of the greatest sins of Christian leaders, especially of those who are effective, successful, respected Christian leaders? Perhaps even of you? Our egos are a strange entity of proportion and moderation. Psychologically, a person with no ego would be a basket case without self-control or a concept of personal identity. Practically, a person with a deficient ego flounders in self-doubt, failure, and a lack of confidence. On the other hand, we find a person who has an inflated sense of self-worth an insufferable blow-hard, an egomaniac, a self-aggrandizing mass of arrogance. Every life needs some kind of balance between single-minded self-centeredness and excessive self-deprecation.

The famous rabbi Hillel wrote, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But, if I am for myself alone, what am I?" Rabbi Hillel, for all his wisdom, appears to be leaving out the most important factor: God. God always alters the ego scale. King David—rich, highly successful, and therefore, someone who had every reason to develop a robust ego—eventually realized that next to God he was nothing! In fact, the most pleasing thing he could do for God was to declare his own absolute ego bankruptcy.

A broken ego won't ever hold enough air to become overly inflated. Next to God, no puny mortal ego dare claim hyperdimensions. We are the wearers of filthy rags next to God's splendor. We are the vessels made for destruction, apart from the Potter's grace. We are but dust and chaff. No, next to God, ego cannot inflate.

But because of God, we are fitted in regal finery. We are adopted as members of the royal family and destined for eternity. We are made just a little lower that God. Because of God, our personal significance becomes of staggering proportions. When we get that picture in our minds, an ego of proper dimensions ought to fit into place. We won't, as a Texan once said, be forever trying to put a ten-gallon hat on an eleven-gallon head. A superheated ego and a true sense of the lordship of Jesus Christ just don't fit in the same personality.

—James D. Berkley

Reflection

How can I acknowledge, celebrate, and take satisfaction in what God is doing in a and through me without becoming or appearing egotistic?

Prayer

Lord God, I give you the praise and glory for the good things you've placed in my life, and I ask you to break my arrogance in any areas of personal pride.

"The biggest addiction we have to overcome is to the human ego. Why? Because ego stands for Edging God Out."
—Kenneth Blanchard, popular author

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