Thursday, April 1, 2010

The ZigZag Café

We will be convening here at the ZigZag café, Suisse, on Thursdays for conversation and dialogue. I invite you to stop by every Thursday for the question of the day. Your thoughts and participation are most welcome. Pull up a stool, avec un café, un thé, ou un chocolat chaud, et un croissant, and join in here on Thursday at the ZZ café.

For today:

How can we live out a dialogue between self interest and self sacrifice?


Living Spiritual Rhythms For Today


Ben A said...


If you don't take care of yourself, you won't be around to care for others.


I'm interested in the self sacrifice part.

Can anyone selflessly sacrifice of himself? For example, I often feel good when I serve others. Maybe it makes me feel like a good person, maybe I hope for God's favor, maybe I receive praise from those I serve, or maybe I receive love and acceptance from those I serve... so part of the reason I serve (sacrifice my time and effort) is because I get something out of it.

Is this avoidable? Is this bad? When can I say my motivations for self-sacrifice are good or bad?

Greg said...

Thanks. True. Perhaps, self interest is a relevant consideration in some contexts, which would be much more dire than that mentioned here.

Good questions.


Yes, I believe it possible to be self sacrificial, not aiming to get much out of it. Seems, as you have pointed out, that this relates to the matter of motives. Doing what one does for the other may just be for them and not for the return to the self. All the things you mention might result from self sacrifice, but be that as it may, I wouldn't think this is a good motivation for doing it. If it is, self interest would still be primary and the other reduced to a means for self gratification, which would be bad. I, therefore, suggest that the aim of self sacrifice is the other, and if so, it is avoidable to have self interest at the heart of this.

No doubt there is a persistent tension in self interest and self sacrifice and we have to work it out as we go along.

Angela said...

Perhaps sometimes in self sacrifice we are "putting
to death" self interest. (Yet, in saying this, I don't want to diminish the tension in self interest and self sacrifice, which Greg speaks of).

I, for example, tend to be possessive of my time.

(Right after I wrote the above I was interrupted by
a notoriously chatty, yet very pleasant janitor coming by my studio to change garbage cans...a test of the above, I guess. Self-sacrifice meant listening intently, chatting back, making time over my break).

There's the aspect of seeking how God might ask us individually to sacrifice. Moment by moment, and also in a more intentional giving of our time, energy, and gifts. I think God would have our gifts to match others needs, not that all sacrifice is enjoyable. Perhaps this goes back to the tension. Sacrifice isn't forcing ourselves to do mundane tasks to earn God's favor. Neither is it being too lofty or fun-loving to get our hands dirty.

Greg said...

Thanks. Well put and good example. This happens to me frequently.

Yes, the tension, and even conflict that arises in the moment. We have to be aware of and begin to embrace this, hopefully choosing to be just and loving when the time comes and the context is understood as much as humanly possible. God is with us, even when it's not perfect.