~ “People coming from the culture of the ‘selfie’ can have difficulty shifting focus away from themselves.” ~
Selflessness is perhaps the most obvious but most important of the five traits of great mission trip members. Serving is about selflessness, about setting aside your time, energy, and emotions without expecting payment of any kind. Unlike many facets of life, when you serve, your motivation is others-focused instead of not self-focused. At least that’s the goal.
The reality is that people coming from the culture of the “selfie” can have a difficult time shifting orientation off of themselves. We are so used to considering our needs and fulfilling our purposes that most of the time we don’t even realize we’re doing it because it feels so natural. The best mission trip members have found a way to do it. Here are some tips:
1. Ask God for help.
Every day, every hour. You will fail. You will think about yourself and the comforts you left behind instead of the people you are serving. You may even wish you were back home. When you recognize yourself going down this path, bring it to God immediately and ask for help to love the way he loves.
2. Don’t expect it to happen naturally.
If you’re worried about your dog, your luggage, your sensitive skin, your lack of arch support or lack of Internet the whole time you’re traveling, you can’t expect to just “turn off” that portion of your brain once you hit the field. Like an athlete, you should spend focused time in pre-game mode preparing your mind.
3. Extend grace.
If one of your team members’ has a bad or selfish attitude, show her grace instead of judgment. Let your trip leader take care of admonishment if need-be. Your quiet example might be enough to help them change her attitude.
4. Remind yourself of your intentions.
Clearly outline your goals. Write them down and post them in a place where you can see them every day. Take photos of the people you are serving and look at their faces when you need a pick-me-up. Bring a token to symbolize what you’re working toward that you can keep in your pocket. When the hard days come (and they probably will!), remind yourself why you chose to serve in the first place.