Contemporary pop psychology’s mantra about well-being is that you must love yourself first in order to be a healthy person and to be able to love others. It is common for some form of this thinking to be advocated by Christian counselors and individual Christians. After all, the assertion sounds plausible. While there is possibly a way you could nuance and clarify the statement so that it contains a measure of truth, it is vital to note that the Bible never calls us to reason in this way.
Stories are powerful. The stories we believe—whether true or false—shape our entire lives, telling us who we are, who we were, and who we are becoming.
But what are we becoming? Can it be predicted? Can we choose what we become? How does the fact that we all are becoming something inform the way we walk with materially poor people? Can we help them change? If so, to what? And if individuals can change, what about communities, institutions, or even nations? Can they change for the better, too? If so, how? And what does “better” even mean?
Repentance is more than reciting well-rehearsed words while trying to minimize our losses. Genuine repentance is vulnerable. It confesses not just as much as what has been found out, but more. It doesn’t withhold information (e.g. from our spouses or friends) in the hope of preserving an image or a reputation. It puts itself at the mercy of others; it does not presume to direct or control them and how they respond to us.
When I look decades down the road, several things come to mind. If God allows, I hope to live long enough for my wife and I to meet our great grandchildren. I enjoy considering what God may do through the generations. Hope rises. Also, I think about finishing the ministry well. As I think about a future “retirement” from formal ministry, there are five things I hope are true about me at that time. If these five things are true, I will be exceedingly happy.