Jebel Zalagh towered over the ancient city of Fes, Morocco. My friend Aaron and I were living in the city to study Arabic, but we fantasized about conquering that mountain. After weeks of dreaming, we made plans to climb Zalagh and our Moroccan friend, who I will call Red, agreed to join us on our adventure.
It was our last Saturday in Fes, so Aaron and I were impatient and excited to climb the mountain. However, we had to wait on Red to arrive because he worked in another city. We waited… and waited… and waited, but he never showed up. After delaying our departure for a few hours, Aaron and I set out for the mountain. We did not want to miss our final chance to fulfill our dream!
The trip was fantastic and exciting. We walked through olive groves, were invited into someone’s home for tea, ran from some angry dogs, got really bad sunburns, and had to literally climb to reach the top of the mountain. The view from the top was beautiful. We were able to see the city from a whole new angle. After taking some pictures, we began our descent and returned home.
When we got back we saw Red, but he would not speak to us. Then we saw his mom, who scolded us for leaving him behind. We thought, “What’s the big deal? He was late.” Very confused, we asked a friend about it and he told us that we should have waited for Red even though it jeopardized our trip. That was because Moroccans almost always prioritize the needs of everyone in the group over the needs of any individual.
American culture is excessively individualistic. Said differently, we are taught to put ourselves and our needs first. A great example of this is how children are told to “follow your dreams,” “just be yourself,” and “believe in yourself.”
The Bible teaches us a different set of priorities.
Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
I know that my relationship with Red would have been very different if I would have put his needs over my desires. I know that our relationship would have taken a step forward instead of taking two steps back if I had just waited for him.
How would your life change if you put the interests of others over your own interests?
How would your relationships change if you put the needs of others before your own needs?
How would your family change if you prioritized the needs of your spouse and children over your own needs?
How would your job change if you put the needs of your team or clients over your own desire to succeed?
How would our community change if you prioritized serving others as opposed to taking care of yourself?
How would our church change if you prioritized the needs of others over your personal preferences?