Like many I suspect, I used to wonder what ‘dying to yourself‘ meant when I heard it bandied about in books or conversations about Christian faith and living. The following helped my understanding when I first read it – and still does.
“I was in San Francisco recently staying at this bed and breakfast place for people who are in the city to do ministry. It was a small house, but there were probably fifteen people living there at the time. The guy who ran the place, Bill, was always making meals or cleaning up after us, and I took note of his incredible patience and kindness. I noticed that not all of us did our dishes after a meal, and very few people thanked him for cooking. One morning, before anybody woke up, Bill and I were drinking coffee at the dining room table. I told him I lived with five guys and that it was very difficult for me because I liked my space and needed my privacy. I asked him how he kept such a good attitude all of the time with so many people abusing his kindness. Bill set down his coffee and looked me in the eye. “Don,” he said. “If we are not willing to wake up in the morning and die to ourselves, perhaps we should ask ourselves whether or not we are really following Jesus.”
—Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz
The passage popped into my head again a short while ago as I headed to the kitchen to dry dishes for the second time in an hour. I hope and pray that I’ll become more like Bill and less like me as time goes on.