Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Minute(s) (as in time) (03/03/11)
TITLE: What’s Bugging You?
By Tim Brown
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How many times a day or week do you hear that phrase? Sometimes it’s said by your spouse when you’re trying to tell them something important. Sometimes you hear it when asking a question of a colleague at work. More often than not, you’ll hear it when you make a phone call to a business or other organization.
How do you respond when you hear it? That response can tell you something about yourself. If you’re irritated or upset by having to wait, it could be that pride has crept in. Irritation can be a sign that subconsciously (or consciously) you feel your time is more valuable than whoever is causing the delay.
It could be that you’re busy and don’t have time to wait a minute, especially if that minute stretches out to 10 or 15. Maybe you expected to get right through and when that expectation wasn’t met, it was irritating. Whatever the case may be; that irritation is a sign that your thinking is self-centered. You’re more concerned about your priorities and not the person who has asked you to wait.
Philippians 2:3 tells us not to do things out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but instead we are to put others ahead of ourselves. When the “just a minute” type of delay, interruption, or inconvenience hits and the irritation quickly rises, it’s a sign that you’re not fulfilling the principle in this verse.
Now think for a moment about your relationship with your spouse. How many of those irritations pop up during the day? They can happen when your spouse tries to talk to you while you’re on the computer or watching TV, or when the dirty clothes don’t make it to the hamper, or your spouse fails to meet one of your expectations. While there may be good reason for being irritated, it goes back to putting your needs and wants ahead of your spouse’s.
That irritation is usually quickly noted by your spouse and can lead to them getting irritated, which can lead to an argument or fight. The little thing spurred on the fight, but the root cause was the attitude demonstrated by the irritation. When that attitude isn’t dealt with, the little things will continue to blow out of proportion and the relationship is damaged.
How do you stop that irritation from happening? You have to deal with the root issue, which most often is not with the other person, but with you. That root issue is most likely pride or self-centeredness. The answer is found in Philippians 2:4 which says we need to put the needs of others ahead of our own. Instead of getting angry, try to look at the situation from the other person’s point of view. If you were in their shoes, how would you like to be treated? Then, act accordingly.
Paul goes on to say one way to accomplish this is to have the mind of Christ. He is God, yet he willingly humbled himself, was born as a man, and humbled himself even further to die on the cross even though he was innocent. Why did he do all that? Because of his perfect love. He put your needs and welfare ahead of his own to the point of dying a cruel death so you could live. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t fair, we didn’t deserve his sacrifice, but he did it anyway because his focus wasn’t on any of that. His focus was on his love and what was needed for us to experience it in a personal, intimate way.
You and I need that same type of love for our spouse. It’s a love that’s based on a choice, not a feeling. You may not feel love for your spouse right now, but you can still choose to love them. When you make that choice and consistently put their needs ahead of your own, the feelings will follow. You will find yourself becoming less and less irritated with them.
When you apply that to other situations and begin to focus on others and see their needs as more important than yours, you’ll find the amount of irritation you face in a day will continue to decrease. So, the next time you hear “just a minute,” instead of getting upset, ask God to help you see the situation from the other person’s perspective and thank him for the reminder.
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