Selfishness destroys relationships

October 26, 2011

selfishness Selfishness is the number one enemy of relationships. It is the number one cause of conflict.  It is the number one cause of arguments.  It is the number one cause of divorce. It is the number one cause of war.  James 4 verses 1 and 2 say this,

“What causes fights and quarrels, don’t they come from your desires that battle within you. You want something but you don’t get it.”

It’s very easy for selfishness to creep into a relationship.  We are very unselfish at the start of a relationship, but then as time goes on, selfishness begins to creep in. The truth is: We put more energy into building relationships than into maintaining relationships.

We all know that selfishness destroys a relationship so why don’t we change, or better yet, why can’t we change? Why can’t we be more unselfish?

Well there are a couple of reasons. First, it is natural. It is human nature to be selfish. We don’t think about other people most of the time. We think about ourselves, our needs, our interests and our hurts.

Not only are we naturally selfish, our culture and everything in it feeds our self-centeredness. Do you realize that every advertisement that comes out caters to our self-centeredness? It’s things like “Have it your way,” “We do it all for you.” Our culture teaches us that “It’s  all about you” and “You’ve got to think about what’s best for you.”

Now if selfishness destroys relationships then selflessness builds them.  What does selflessness mean? It means a little bit less of me and a little bit more of you. It means I think a little bit less of myself and I think a little bit more of you. That is being selfless. It’s reminding ourselves that we are not the whole center of the universe.

Philippians 2:4 says this, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” That’s selflessness. Selflessness brings out the best in others. It builds relationships.

In fact, if you start acting selfless in a relationship it forces the other person to change because you’re not the same person anymore and they have to relate to you in a different way.  Selflessness not only transforms a relationship it also transforms the other person.

I’ve actually seen it many, many times. I’ve seen some of the most unlovable and unlikable people be transformed by being selfless toward them and giving them what they need, not what they deserve. It transforms them when we show them selflessness and show them kindness.

Now God’s favorite place to teach us selflessness is with our family and with our friends. Why? Because those are the people who get closest to us on a regular basis.

It’s very easy to be selfless in a crowd because nobody is demanding anything. It’s when we’re in relationship with other people that we have the give and take of learning to get along with people who are different from us.  This is where we have to learn to be selfless.

What are some ways that you can show those closest to you selflessness?

Kevin Martineau

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I am the Pastor at Port Hardy Baptist Church on Northern Vancouver Island, British Columbia. I am married to my best friend and I have three beautiful daughters.

20 responses to Selfishness destroys relationships

  1. Interesting enough my husband and I just had a wonderful conversation about upcoming decisions we had to make. I listened and – gasp – even changed my mind and agreed with him on one point. I guess taking the time to really listen and to honor our loved ones is a form of selflessness. I would have never realized that and how special these moments with my hubby were until I read your post. For that I thank you!

  2. I so enjoyed reading this post because people don’t usually address this issue and it is so important. I see selfish people perish in their own misery. On the other hand, when I see selfless people, there is an aura of happiness and joy around them.
    For myself, I follow Jesus and his teachings. So for me it is easy to be selfless. It’s my way of life. The last commandment “Do unto others…” is showing us the way to life. I know so many people, including family, friends and clients who are so different than me. I enjoy learning their belief systems and philosophies of life and respect the differences.
    But when it comes down to it we are all the same in God’s eyes. I can be selfless because I am not in the position to judge, that’s God’s job. So that relieves me of that nasty judgemental energy.
    When I have difficulty communicating with someone, I look into their eyes and say to myself I’m looking into the eyes of Jesus. That always helps me out when I’m in a tough spot. There are many ways to be selfless, but I think the best way to approach it is to treat people like they are royalty. This will humble you to a place where there is peace in your heart.
    My prayers go out to the selfish so they can relieve themselves in the shackles they are in.
    Blessings,
    Donna

  3. What a great reminder, Kevin. Thanks.

  4. This is very true! The word itself is really an issue on every relationships. And as i encounter on my own relationship, you must be patient enough on it and having the give and take terms on both parties.

  5. There are many ways to be selfless, but I think the best way to approach it is to treat people like they are royalty.. This will humble you to a place where there is peace in your heart…

  6. Steve-Personal Success Factors October 27, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    Kevin, you said it best: it’s in our family and with those closest to us that we have the greatest opportunity to improve in self-less-ness. I’ve been convicted of this lately, and with God’s help, I’m working to change, with my family first.

  7. Relationships are a challenge even under the best of circumstances. You’ve provided some excellent advice Kevin, and I can certainly understand there are some circumstances where responding to selfish behavior in a kind and giving way may save relationships. At the same time, I believe we (particularly women) need to be willing to establish boundaries for ourselves to avoid being trapped in abusive relationships – not all abuse is physical.

    • I hear what you are saying Marty about setting boundaries. For me, selflessness does not mean being a door mat to anyone and everyone. We need to have our boundaries and stick to them. We can be exhibit selflessness as we do this though.

      Thanks for sharing!

  8. One way to be selfless is by having a servant mindset, always serving others. Great reminder and thoughts.

  9. Listening to my wife. It doesn’t count when I am “listening” to her and reading something on the computer screen.

    Listening is selfless while wanting to be heard can be selfish.

  10. I think the hardest thing about being in a relationship is being unselfish. The person becomes attracted to you because of how you are as an individual, but once your married you have to find that balance. Finding the balance is the answer to decreasing our high divorce rate :)