How frighteningly territorial little boys can get over pieces of fiber and wood. Sticks, rope, cardboard boxes, these are all commodities worth warring over when you're a five or eight year old with a Y chromosome.
My oldest son was tying a small length of rope onto a long piece of bamboo which was to be the fishing pole that would supply his only source of food while he drifted on a small boat lost at sea. His survival tactics were stopped short when his little brother demanded his rope back.
Being that he would most certainly die of starvation without his fishing pole, I suggested that he let him play with it for 20 minutes. Well, 20 minutes was too long for the rope owner and what ensued was a lot of crying, yelling, tugging, anger from both of them, and most of all selfishness!
Finally, I had had enough. I brought them both in to sit on the red bench. Now, when they are called to sit on the red bench they know what is coming next. I pulled out the big book with all the colorful tabs in it: my Child Training Bible. Without any further explanation I read:
"Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men" (Romans 12:17,18).
"Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you" (Luke 6:30,31).
"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interest of others" (Philippians 2:3,4).
Then I ask, "When you demanded your rope back, were you thinking about what your brother wanted or only about what you wanted?" The answer was obvious.
I look at the older one, "When you refused to give the rope back were you thinking only about what you wanted, or about what your brother wanted?" Again, it was obvious, they were both only thinking about themselves.
I prayed that they would start to think more about what others want instead of only themselves. I thanked Jesus for His unselfish sacrifice on the cross and prayed that we would be more like Him. Then I told them to sit on the red bench until they thought of a solution that would make both of them happy. In the end, they worked out a deal that they both were very happy with and they ran back outside to play with smiles on their faces. (The deal must have involved a stick because I overheard one of them say, "Here's your happy stick!")
Solutions can be found when we stop thinking only about what we want, and start thinking about what others want. We must each be willing to give up something in order to gain something far greater: peace!
Are you "at war" with someone in your life? Do you find yourself getting into arguments or fights with people? Or maybe you just need a tool to help your children overcome adversity with their siblings or friends. The following selfishness checklist can help uncover selfish motives and actions, and reveal areas where peace can be pursued.
The Selfishness Checklist:
☑ I am not repaying evil for evil.
☑ I am willing to share or give what is mine.
☑ I am not demanding what is mine.
☑ I am treating others the way I want to be treated.
☑ I am regarding other people as more important than myself.
☑ I am considering what other people want, not just what I want.
☑ I am doing all that I can to try to make peace.