I have always been taught to look out for “number one” or “numero uno.” A colleague and the medical director of a counseling center where I once worked, would often interrupt anyone who made a comment before he spoke with: “No, No… Marco First!!” Although I did at times admired his strong assertive leadership style, I didn’t usually appreciate being told to effectively shut my mouth until after he made his speech for the day. If I happened to have the bad fortune of speaking out of turn, or if I irritated this strong leader, I would most likely have to pay for it. Once he embarrassed me in front of the entire staff by saying, “So, you are pretty green in this field, aren’t you!?” Well, no, actually I wasn’t, but once he made his proclamations, it really didn’t matter what anyone else said. So, I learned when dealing with aggressive, head-strong people, it was often counter-productive to argue or try to have the last word. Perhaps you have had some similar experiences, hopefully not everyday at work with your boss, or everyday at home with your spouse! Working or living with someone who believes they are ‘Numero Uno’ and always right, is not a lot of fun.
But I think part of the problem is we misunderstand who “Numero Uno” is supposed to mean. Many well-intending friends and family members will tell us to look out for “Number One.” But they don’t usually want us to be rude to others or act like we own the world. What they intend, I believe, is for us not to let others abuse us or take advantage of us. Right? The only problem with this advice is that it doesn’t really define who we are, or what it means to take good care of ourselves. Once we reach the age of 17 or 18, we don’t need to be reminded to practice good self-care; and even if we do need reminders, it’s not likely that we don’t care enough about ourselves. It is more likely that we don’t know what we need or how to go about getting it. Every one of us has desires and needs. Most of us can name a few things we want, and even come up with a pretty detailed Christmas list when a close friend asks for one. The thing we all need – but don’t all know we need – is Someone to fill the “God sized hole in our hearts.” That is, in my opinion, the One big problem that must be attended to each day – or at least several times a week..
How do we truly take care of ourselves when we sometimes don’t even know what we are feeling, needing, or experiencing? A big part of good self-care is asking others for help in learning how to recognize that we are off track – chasing some worthless idol. To pretend that we understand ourselves well enough to anticipate (let alone acquire) what we need, is really rather foolish and vain. When left to our own devices, the human race is notorious for killing more of ourselves than any other species, for majorly messing up the eco-system, and for walking a very thin line between persistent survival and self-annihilation!
I recommend that my clients and friends maintain at least two close, trustworthy, and honest accountability partners – preferably three. This way, we aren’t putting “all of our eggs in one basket” (having only one friend) and we get the added benefit of having 2 or 3 wise mentors available to assist when we actually need some major help.
I also believe, as hard as this is to imagine, that many of us neglect the most important activity we Christians have! Prayer. No amount of accountability to another human being, or animal, or robot, or computer program, or alien from outer space will ever take the place of prayer when it comes to knowing and walking with God. Do you know how much our loving, gracious heavenly Father desires to spend private, one-on-one time with you?
Only God wrote the Book on Love! He alone has written the one true, accurate, and complete ‘owners manual’ for the human race! Have you read it lately? It’s not just interesting reading – it’s required! (Not because I say so…., but rather because He does.)
God wrote us a love letter that also contains a few rules we need to follow. (And we must discover that we can’t follow these rules without a His power and Spirit working in and through us. We need much more help from Him than we think! One Christian author has said that their is good news and bad news. The Bad News is that our sins are many times greater than we feared, the Good News is that God’s grace, forgiveness, and love is hundreds if not thousand’s of times greater than our sin!)
Our instruction manual isn’t supposed to be used as a paper weight, it’s actually meant to be read often and intently. It is our only source of God’s written Word, and a gateway into the heart of Jesus. Take a few minutes today (and preferable everyday) to gaze into this wonderful Book. It is a window into the past, the future, and into both the human heart and it’s only remedy: the only hope for mankind – the redeeming and life-changing love of Christ. God not only cares about what we need to take care of ourselves, He wants to help us take very good care of ourselves. But, it is Jesus who is (and always will be) Number One.
Are you living for yourself – thinking mainly about what you must be doing to constantly fight to pay the bills, to stay on top, or to just survive? Or… are you truly living for Number One? He (Christ Jesus) became the “first fruits” of redemption. the Savior of all who believe, and the elder brother (and LORD) of all the saints (Christians)! Along with God the Father, Christ constructed the entire universe, and even now he is creating, growing, and cleansing us — making us into the children of God He wants us to be – while all of nature cries out to be reunited with Christ.
Jesus didn’t tell the man who inquired of Him that we must always be our brother’s keeper, nor did He agree to make this man’s brother divide up their inheritance … because Jesus had more important things to do! Things like living for his Dad, the great I AM, the big Numero Uno! Jesus, who was Number One in all the Universe, became our servant and taught us how to serve God and Man. We must now take to heart His example, remove ourselves from the “Numero Uno throne,” and serve the One True King. Are you living for Number One – Emmanuel (“God with us”), the Only Son of God who left Heaven to save us from Hell? If not isn’t now a good time to start?
We are all dying to go somewhere. When we die, or when Jesus returns, there will be no more thought about for whom we should live, but for now – I’m going to choose, because I can, to keep living for Number One – for my One and Only Savior and King. How about you?