The Art of Selflessness

by GenerousChurch  |  May 7, 2015

What leads a woman to shelter, adopt and raise as many as 69 children?  How do you get to the point where you are more concerned with the life of a stranger than your own?  What prompted these 11 individuals to alter the course of their lives for the good of people around them?

We all know what it means to be selfless.  In fact, I would guess that almost all of us act selflessly at times.  At the right moments, under the proper circumstances, we decide to put others interests ahead of our own.  We pause and allow a car to enter the flow of traffic ahead of us.  We hand a few dollars to a stranger.  We put aside personal plans to be with a grieving friend.   We all act selflessly at times.

But, there is a vast gulf between a selfless act and a selfless lifestyle.  So, what is it that leads some people to purposefully place the interests of others ahead of their own…on a daily basis?

I don’t know that we can pinpoint the answer to that question.  But, there is some evidence that we are hardwired to pursue lives of selfless generosity.  It’s only after we’ve had time to rationalize that we end up acting selfishly.  It’s only after our initial impulses die down that we are hesitant to help others.

I’ve realized recently that there is a true art to living selflessly.  After years and years (and years) of mental training to seek my own interests, I can rapidly assess a situation and determine what is best for me.  Within milliseconds, I can override my hardwiring for generosity and choose to ignore those around me.  In fact, I make these decisions hundreds of times a day…to the point where I subconsciously and unintentionally choose my good over everything else.

What that means is that if I am going to live a selfless life…if I am going to live the way that I’m hardwired to live…I have to intentionally re-develop this skill in my life.  It takes work.  It’s a craft of looking of others through a different lens.  It’s an art of listening to others carefully and more importantly, listening to God carefully.  From that point, it involves the work of rewiring our brains.  Over time, these intentional, prayerful acts of selflessness become a habit.

As a result, we contribute to human flourishing and we live the selfless lives that we were created to live.


For more examples and articles on living selflessly, check out the links below…

Tiny House
selfless boy
treasure and heart
green family adoptions


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