Having an “Others” Mindset

While in-transit very early this morning at the Shanghai airport, I exchanged a few words with a Swiss-Canadian man that was, like me, headed to Calcutta. He has not been to India for about 25 years, and we briefly talked about the changes he might see. I shared that I had been to India numerous times, and briefly about the orphan work that we are involved in, to which he made a comment something to the effect of, “these trips must help break you out of the self-centered living (of the West)”. Interesting statement, and yet, very true.

I don’t know about each of you, but I find it very easy to build life around
myself. My comfort, my security, my wants, my needs, my priorities, my choices, my rights, and on and on. How often do I stop and realize that I’m living this way, and then ask myself the antidotal question of “is this how I’m supposed to be living?” and if not, then what should my focus be?

The answer to this question has been aptly coined by one of our India co-workers who said “live for others, not for self”. Likewise Jesus, when sending out the 12 disciples, is recorded as having told them to preach Good News, to heal the sick, raise the dead, and cast out demons (Matthew 10:7-9). Theirs was not a mission of self-benefit; it was a mission with others in mind: their spiritual, physical, and emotional needs. They were on an “others” mission!

This applies to all of us as well – whether we are in transit to India, in India, or in suburban USA. Each one of us has been blessed in one way or another, and are instructed to pass those blessings along to others (“Freely you have received, freely give” said Jesus). May living with such an outward/other-focus be something that each of us aspires to, each day, in some way. Maybe that means supporting an orphan, or writing a letter to an orphan you already support. Maybe it means reaching out to a hurting family in your neighborhood or church. Maybe it means taking a trip to India in order to “break out” of the “me” mindset. Whatever it is, may I encourage all of us to take an active step in this direction.

After the 12-hour plane ride from Vancouver to Shanghai, the last thing I was
expecting was a spiritual lesson while waiting for my next flight. But one never knows how and when God’s going to show up, and what He is going to say when He does. “Don’t live for self. Live for others.” That’s a pretty good message!