Dr. Andy Pate
The Orange Leader
Who is more beautiful than the truly unselfish person? a man or woman with the ability to suppress individual wants for the sake of others? If we are fortunate, and I must assume that most of our readers are so blessed, we have known not just one person of this admirable kind but several such persons and we value them immensely.
But there's another side of the "loving" teachings of Christ that can easily be neglected, and often is, especially in America. On the whole, we're not taking very good care of ourselves, of that body the apostle Paul called "the temple of the Holy Spirit" within us (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) Too many of us, myself included, have not paid enough attention to having a healthy self.
This was brought home for me recently when for a couple of days I was around my great-nephew, Scott, who is currently in the early months of a two-year training program for the U.S. Army special forces. It was downright embarrassing when I stood beside Scott and compared my "temple" to his. It was not that I'm in such bad physical shape; it was the fact that he is in such awesomely great shape that has compelled me to make a new pledge to pay more attention to personal wholeness. Training for God's special purposes is certainly of equal worth.
More importantly, my time with Scott has led me to question whether we ministers and other church leaders have been diligent enough in this regard. I doubt that we have been. It's as though we have avoided the topic in order either not to embarrass ourselves or to have others reject us for being too personal. In either case we fail to do justice to the teachings of our Leader.
"Love God" was Jesus' first commandment and the second was "love your neighbor as you love yourself."
Self-esteem - that's the core of the matter. Do we value our own selves enough to make taking care of them a top priority? This, too, is a question about our ability to be kind and generous and loving toward others. To do that well, we have to be solid within ourselves - physically, spiritually and mentally.
The truly beautiful part of my being with my great-nephew Scott was the hour we spent together with family, celebrating the life of his grandfather, my brother-in-law. The hour was as wholistic for me as it was holy. Isn't it wonderful, I thought, to have young soldiers like Scott training so hard to make sure our lives are for the best? Yes! Yes, indeed!