The Sovereign Self

On Friday, November 11, 2011, LTi is hosting an event at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary entitled “Re-Ignited: Kindling Your Inner Fire for God” with special guest speaker Chris Webb (and yours truly). In anticipation of that event I am focusing my weekly blogs on the topic, “What are the winds that blow toward your soul and seek to extinguish your inner flame for God?”
Part two: Our pride, the root of our self-absorption. As believers in Jesus, we are called to the opposite: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Phil. 2: 3,4).
In what some would label as “the age of the sovereign self” we are continually looking out for #1: me, myself, and I. Life is all about my needs being met in ways that satisfy my wants and wishes. When self is priority, we will do everything possible to protect, provide and please our prideful ways. We will control, manipulate, and strive toward being the center of attention, the focal point of interest, and the intriguing envy of others.
One of the great inhibitors to the kindling of our inner fire for God is our ever-present, pervasive, persistent focus on self. How can I get my hands on “more and more” status, possessions, physique, and pizzazz than any other around me? How can I acquire the next rung on the ladder of success, no matter the casualties I cause every step of the way? How can I out-smart, out-wit, out-run, and beat-out my competition no matter the cost? These are the internal motivations of the prideful person. Are you thinking all of this doesn’t exist in your heart too?
How easy it is to point fingers at the speck of prideful proof in the eyes of others…and yet how counter-cultural and so much more like Jesus when we honestly see the pride-filled log in our own eyes. As followers of Jesus, we are called to consider the needs of others more important than our own. Humility instead of pride. Grace instead of judgment. Mercy instead of punishment. Love instead of fear.
Take some time this week to reflect on how many of your words, actions, and attitudes are focused almost exclusively on yourself. Then, consider how often you spoke, thought, acted and felt humbly and open-handedly toward another. Kindling your inner fire for God begins by recognizing your propensity toward yourself and then purposefully flipping that upside down and inside out toward the Lord Jesus, and then offering a loving cup of encouragement, joy and blessing to all who cross your path. Forsake the sovereign self and choose today the humble way of the Sovereign Lord.

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Steve Macchia

Founder & President

The Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Macchia is founder and president of Leadership Transformations, Inc. (LTI), a ministry serving the spiritual formation, discernment, and renewal of leaders and learners since 2003. For more than 20 years he has been the Director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Doctor of Ministry Program. From 1989-2003 he was the president of Vision New England, the largest regional church renewal association in the country. Earlier in his ministry life, Steve was a member of the pastoral staff of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts for 11 years. He is the author or co-author of 17 books, including The Discerning Life (Zondervan Reflective), and Crafting a Rule of Life, Becoming A Healthy Church (LTI), and Broken and Whole (IVP).  He and his wife Ruth live in the Boston (MA) area and are the proud parents of two married children and grandparents to three adorable grandchildren. Steve’s personal website is www.SteveMacchia.com.

My soul comes alive singing the great hymns of the church and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I’m in awe of God for fulfilling the dream for LTI that he birthed in my heart, for the team he has assembled, and the transformational impact experienced in the leaders and teams we serve.

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Mitzi Mak

Selah-West Faculty

Mitzi started her professional life as a high school social studies teacher. She and her husband Jerry then served cross-culturally for ten+ years, living abroad first in India and then Kurdistan, N. Iraq. In addition to being a Spiritual Director, she now serves as a Formation and Care pastor in her local church in Houston, TX. She has graduated from LTI’s Selah Spiritual Direction training as well as LTI’s Emmaus Formational Leadership Program.

Mitzi enjoys engaging conversation, reading fiction, doing jigsaw/crossword puzzles, ocean gazing and exploring the world with Jerry through food and travel.

God has two main callings in Mitzi’s life: to care for those who care for others and to be a guide in helping others have a healthy relationship with the Trinity – recognizing God’s loving presence and activity in their lives and how to faithfully respond.

Selah was a transformative experience for me – allowing the contemplative within to emerge and to beautifully co-exist with my extraverted personality.