It’s All About Me – Isn’t It?

I recently attended a Stephen Ministry continuing education session presented by Dr. Kerry Maurer, the Senior Pastor at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Cumming, Georgia. His topic: “The Crazy Makers in Our Lives”.

Dr. Maurer’s main source for his talk was the book written by Dr. David Hawkins, “Dealing with the Crazy Makers in our Life”.

My bride and I were both really impressed with the topic… and independently decided to go on-line and by the book. So we are now the proud owners of two copies.

When it comes to books dealing with psychology and personality types, I believe there are two types of people: those who look at themselves and try to decide where they fall into the spectrum of the traits being examined; and those who reflect on their friends and relatives to see if anyone they know falls into the spectrum.

Is that a nice way of saying some people can read books like that and fail to reflect on their own shortcomings? Of course, in my humble opinion, those are the folks who really should look at themselves more closely. But what do I know? I might be an egotist!

Dr. Hawkins describes several types of personalities that have a habit of driving the rest of us crazy. For example, he discusses what he calls the “sufferer” – the person who goes around saying, “Woe is me.” I think most of us have met someone who never has anything go right – they are constantly depressed and if you spend any length of time with them, you too will be depressed.

A sufferer cannot be helped by anyone other than a professional, and even that is difficult. If you offer solutions to their problems, they’ll give you a hundred reasons why nothing would work. What they need is someone to go in and say, “You think that’s bad, let me tell you about the time I…”

Speaking of I, that’s another type Dr. Hawkins describes – the egotist. Every time I read a book describing an egotist I find myself questioning myself. Am I too self-centered?

I like to think I’m not. I devote a lot of time to my church and my family. I’ve spent countless nights at homeless shelters, and devoted many hours to community service projects.

As for my church work, I often ask myself – “Am I doing this for the Glory of God, or the Glory of Jim?”

My bride (God bless her) tells me I do not exhibit any of the outward signs of the egotists described by Dr. Hawkins. She insists she does not see me as a self-centered person.

However, I recently helped judge an oratorical contest at Coal Mountain Elementary School that causes me to disagree with my bride. At the completion of the competition, the teacher who organized the event, Ms. Dottie Culver, introduced me and the other judges to the parents, students, and other teaches in attendance. I was surprised at how much she knew about me! She had not asked me to submit a bio – she just knew!

Ever since, I’ve been asking myself how much I know about my friends and my children. I think I know quite a bit, but I have my doubts.

While discussing this with Lu, (my bride for the uninitiated), I told her that growing up as the youngest of six children I was often chastised for being too nebby. (Nebby is a Pittsburgh term for nosey.) I can’t tell you how many times I was told to mind my own business.

As a result, I feel awkward asking people about themselves… even though I know that talking about ourselves is a favorite topic of many people. I think we all feel comfortable talking about ourselves because it is the one subject about which we are the only world-renowned expert.

If someone volunteers to tell me about him or herself, I’ll gladly listen, but I find it difficult to ask probing question. If you tell me you’re under the weather, I might ask for a more detailed explanation, but I’ll worry the whole time that I might be asking questions you find embarrassing.

If it’s none of my business, just tell me so. I’m used to hearing those words.

Am I an egotist? I’m sure some people see me as a self-centered jerk. I would hope those people are part of a minuscule minority.

However, I did just write a post to my blog that is all about me. Perhaps they’re right!

Maybe I should read Moby Dick, A Tale of Two Cities, or something else that doesn’t go into personality types. Do you think I act like Captain Ahab?

At the beach with Emma

If you don’t mind, I will now mentally go to the beach. I don’t want to dwell on my problems any more. Otherwise I might be seen as a sufferer.

On some days, you just can’t win.

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