In Western culture, individualism is like a windshield or a pair of glasses. We’re so used to “seeing through” it that we don’t even see it.
Sometimes, we need some help to recognize how our self-centeredness actually manifests itself — and how it may be getting in our way.
Below are a few signs of individualism and some ways it may express itself based on who you are.
Choose the one or two statements below that you see most often in your life –
You are proud of your ability to deal with your own problems and challenges without help from others.
You enjoy being asked for help but you rarely ask others for help.
It’s difficult for you to be vulnerable about what’s really going on in your soul because “those are my issues to deal with.”
You don’t honestly think you need people to grow spiritually; personal spiritual disciplines are sufficient (Bible study, prayer, theological reading).
It’s hard for you to receive gifts or help from people without wanting to pay them back somehow.
You may be thought of as a “good Christian” by others, but few people know you as you really are.
You may be outgoing and extroverted, but your relationships stay on the surface.
Very few people have full access to your life. You may disclose things to people, but only what you want them to know. You do not want them to dig deeper.
When relationships are hard, you tend to withdraw rather than deal with the issues.
You tend to measure spiritual growth by how much you know.
You tend to keep others at arm’s length to guard against being hurt or rejected.
You measure spiritual growth or maturity by what others say or think.
You fear at times that if people knew “the real you,” they would keep their distance.
You avoid conflict. If people offend you or hurt your feelings, you prefer to say nothing rather than risk anger or rejection.
You might be addicted to approval. Your sense of value rises and falls on what other people say (or do not say) about you.
You tend to be addicted to busyness; it’s the way you fill the void of deep relationships in your life.
You have a higher concern for respect from others (attention) than you have a sense of responsibility for others (sacrifice).
You are more concerned about what others think of your accomplishments (importance) than what they think of your relational influence on their lives (significance).
You tend to measure spiritual growth by what you have accomplished.
You regularly choose work and hobbies over people.
Your schedule and priorities always take precedence; you don’t reshuffle your agenda to help or serve others.
You like having people around, but you don’t tend to take their advice or welcome their correction.
When it comes to church, you tend to ask consumer-oriented questions like, “What do I like/not like? How does this make me feel? What do I get out of this?” Your wants and goals are functionally prioritized over the needs of the community and the mission of the church.
Notice that the headings over all of these bullet points have to do with “self.”
What if your self-centeredness was transformed into a joyful God-centeredness?
What would the results be for yourself and for the community around you?
This excerpt is taken from The Gospel-Centered Community © 2011 by Bob Thune and Will Walker. Used by permission of New Growth Press. May not be reproduced without the express written permission of New Growth Press. Image sourced from Flickr under a Creative Commons license.