Love Self ~ Middle School Wisdom
(Part 3 of 3)

Working with middle school children is a mixed bag of blessings and curses. It is a roller coaster. Sometimes, Jr. High kids seem so naïve, borderline clueless. And sometimes, they see the world exactly as it is with profound perspective.                

I take middle-schoolers on a choir tour every summer. One Saturday in July, we stood around the Federal Building Bombing Site in Oklahoma City. This town closes on weekends. Fortunately, we made arrangements for lunch in a diner just across the street. The genuinely kind owner of the restaurant gave up his day off to open the doors and feed us; although, I assume the thought of 130 prepaid lunches was motivation enough.                  

We filed in. The lunches were prepared and sitting on the tables. It was blistering hot outside and we were blessed with the opportunity to have a devotion with air conditioning. Earlier in the week we had discussed “loving God” and “loving neighbor.” Today, we would attempt the topic of “loving self.” This is an important topic to me, especially with middle school kids. Taking the time to teach them to love themselves was, and is still, a high priority for me. There we sat, with the diner all to ourselves, with the memorial just outside the window. We began a discussion about love. I asked the kids, “Can someone come up with a definition of selfish?”

Seemingly every kid in the restaurant had a definition to offer. Finally, Gabriel raised his hand. Gabe is one of those extremely intelligent kids who never demands the center of attention, but is confident when he gets it.

“I think selfish people are the kind of people who make their agenda the primary agenda in all situations.”                       

There was a collective silence for a moment as we tried to grasp the thing Gabriel just spit out of his mouth. But Gabe was right on. I looked around the room.

“Who then, is good at this? Who in this restaurant is good at making their agenda the primary agenda in all situations? Who is good at being Gabriel’s definition of selfish?”              

To my shock, half of the room rocketed their hands in the air. They began to brag about their skills. As I looked at the faces of the confessors, I had to agree. These young folks were good at the art of being selfish and proud of it! The confession made us laugh.

Trying to regain the focus of the room, I asked, “Then, what does it mean to be selfless?”

It took no time at all for the room to rally around Gabriel’s definition, restated in opposite fashion. Someone in the room said it, but I couldn’t discern the voice from the collective conversation in the room.

“Selfless people are those who put their agenda as the last agenda in all situations.”

I began to wonder who fit this selfless definition and I polled the room. “Who then, is good at this? Who in this restaurant is good at keeping their agenda as the last agenda?”

For some reason, I chose to add a bit more to the request. “Who are the folks who pride themselves on flexibility, bending with the perceived needs of others, ducking out of the way and avoiding conflict?”                        

I really don’t know what I expected, but the other half of the kids could not raise their hands high enough. All of the pleasers in the room (including Gabriel) stretched their hands in the air. Yes, they were not as verbally loud in their response (being pleasers), but were equally confident of their role in humanity. Then, Blair took the stage. This was not unusual. Blair has the gift of volume and is not afraid to use it.

“I think that selfless people are actually selfish.”

We sat there, a bit stunned with the comment. But Blair did not give up.

“Well, if selfless people are motivated to ‘make their agenda the last agenda’, and ‘making their agenda the last agenda’ is their primary agenda, when they succeed at ‘making their agenda the last agenda’ then they are still making their agenda the primary agenda!”

We all were a bit shocked. Her perspective was. . .insightful! And the comment came from Blair! Many in the room didn’t get her point at first, and each table began to explain the depth of her insight. Is this true? Are we, all of us, basically selfish individuals? This middle-school definition surely seems to suggest it.

I tried to rally the individual conversations into one collective debate. “If we have defined selfish behavior to our satisfaction and we can agree on selfless behavior, then what is self-love?”

Immediately, a table of 8th grade boys made inappropriate self-love gestures in the air and I lost control of the room. The 8th grade parents were mortified. I tried my best to calm the chaos. Finally, God was good and a small table of wonderful, clueless 6th grade boys raised their hands, ready to sincerely answer the question.

“Tim, we don’t really have a definition but we think we can describe it. Maybe, if we love ourselves just as God loves us, then we would understand self-love.”

I said, “Alright! Go ahead! Describe the way God loves us.”

“God pours love upon us like a waterfall that never runs dry. God forgives us over and over! God doesn’t care what we look like or how smart we are. Sometimes, if we need it, God kind of spanks us when we mess up but then encourages us and picks us up. Maybe, if we could love ourselves like God love us, that would describe self-love.”

(This is why I love middle school ministry.) “Alright boys, that’s awesome. Let me ask everyone something. I’ll say a word and you tell me if it is an issue of selfish, selfless or self-love. Cheating?”

A quick answer came from the back of the room. “Selfish. Not self-love.” And before I could reply, an honest addition came from the 8th grade boy table. “Alcohol! Selfish and not self-love.” And then a sweet, shy 7th grade girl raised her hand. “When you allow a bully to hurt your feelings, isn’t that selfless and not self-love.”

Then God poured grace upon a bunch of kids and reminded each one why and how they should love themselves. God is so good. After a time of imaging the way God loves, I asked the group, “Which is harder, to love your neighbor or to love yourself under this new definition?”

No one answered. Everyone, including me, just thought about it.

We opened our Bibles to I Corinthians 13 and explored the challenge of loving the way God loves. These words reflect God’s love for us, and God’s challenge for us to love ourselves, and then others.

“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.

It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;

it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.

It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends.”

It is not always easy. It holds us accountable. It demands nothing from us, yet inspires us to change. If only we could love like that, then we could understand self-love.

                                                        *           *          

When Jesus is asked, “What is the greatest Commandment?” he responds with profound simplicity: “Love God.” Jesus briefly elaborates on what it means to love God with one’s entire being. Then, Jesus adds a second, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Christ then inspires each of us with a parable on what it means to sacrificially love your neighbor and implies that we are to love ourselves.

Many faithful people struggle with loving themselves. While on the Jr. High Choir Tour mentioned above, one of my greatest goals is to assure each middle school kid that they are beautiful, wonderful people worthy of great love and loved by God.

The text, “love neighbor as yourself” is quoted nine times, found in both Old and New Testaments. Does this Scripture merely imply that we love ourselves and the challenge is to love neighbor with that quality of love? Or is it a command to love neighbor and a command to love ourselves?

But self-love seems to be so complicated. It is too easily confused with selfishness and selflessness. The church, too, is guilty of distorting Biblical texts to confuse self-love. Example? Faithful people have looked to the 29th Chapter of Jeremiah to justify material prosperity which conflicts with the Gospel. When did Christ ever lift up personal financial prosperity as a reward for faithfulness? The lure to justify selfish behavior is rampant, and even finds its way into our Scriptural interpretation.

Our culture breeds, encourages, and glorifies selfishness. It is so much a part of what it means to be American that we often no longer recognize a selfish culture even while we stand in the midst of it. For most of our country, selfishness has become a religion, a way of thinking, a hoarding goal, a lifestyle, a right, and a standard of measuring success.

It can be difficult to see selfishness. It hides well. It justifies itself with great success. Procrastination can be a beautiful example of self-love. However, it can also be the height of selfishness and the exact opposite of self-love. Pornography: selfish, definitely not self-love. Having enough to eat: genuine self-love. Gluttony is something else. Prescription drugs can be mandatory for self-love while prescription abuse is selfishness and often destroys relationships, (which violates the call to love neighbor.) Preaching can be a magnificent way to love our neighbor; yet sometimes, preachers fall into a need for the selfish affirmation that comes from preaching. Taking one day a year to work in a soup kitchen is an act of loving neighbor, but it can fall into selfishness if used it to justify personal accumulation.

Inappropriate selflessness is even more complicated and difficult to recognize than selfishness. When faithful, selfless people allow themselves to be abused (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually,) then love is lost, harm is done, and this is not the will of God. Perpetuating this, allowing this, tolerating this, is not self-love. Avoiding conflict is often a selfless act but the opposite of self-love. Throwing open our arms like Jesus on the cross, allowing a cruel world to attack may be Christ-like but is it a manifestation of self-love as commanded by Christ?

Self-love can be complicated. Too easily we fall into the pit of selfishness. Too easily we fall into selflessness. How do we interpret self-love? How do we recognize it? How do we choose it? Truthfully, for me, the call to self-love is clear. And it was defined for me by a table of 6th grade boys in a sandwich shop in Oklahoma City. When we love ourselves the way we perceive God to love us, then we are seeing what it means to love ourselves. It is love that is unconditional, unrelenting, and inexhaustible. This kind of love holds us accountable when we need redirection. It is strong and demands action when love is thwarted. If it is motivated by my humanness, and does not resemble what I believe God would choose for me, then it is selfish or selfless.

The call of the Great Commandment is clear. Love God. The second call, much like the first, is clear: love neighbor as you love yourself.

In the opening welcome and introduction to this website, I shared the Scripture that inspired this online adventure, I Tim 6:20. This text is also the origination of the name; “Sacred Chatter.” However, my intent is not to be a singular voice. I invite your voice to be a part of the “chat” and I base this on another of my favorite Scriptures: Hebrews 10:24. “And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds.” I am considering how I can provoke love and good deeds in places beyond where I live. This is my attempt to enter into a Hebrews 10 conversation with you over social media.digitally. Now, I am interested in your feedback. Consider what provoking you can provide with your own Sacred Chatter.

What’s important to you? What really matters?

Add your voice in Sacred Chatter.

Love is ours to provoke. Good deeds are ours to sew.

That the wisdom of Hebrews 10 may flourish and grow.

Email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, they’re potential mediums for the Hebrews 10 plan.

145 thoughts on “Love Self ~ Middle School Wisdom


    Awesome things here. I’m very glad to look your post. Thanks a lot and
    I am taking a look forward to contact you. Will you
    please drop me a mail?


    Hey would you mind stating which blog platform you’re working with?
    I’m looking to start my own blog soon but I’m having a difficult time deciding between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and
    Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design and
    style seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something unique.
    P.S Sorry for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

  3. Felicitas

    I just like the helpful info you supply to your articles.
    I’ll bookmark your weblog and take a look at again right here frequently.

    I’m reasonably sure I’ll learn a lot of new stuff right right here!
    Best of luck for the following!

  4. Todd

    Generally I do not learn article on blogs, however I
    would like to say that this write-up very compelled me to check out and
    do it! Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thank
    you, quite great article.

  5. Trina

    I used to be recommended this blog by my cousin. I’m
    not certain whether this put up is written via him
    as nobody else realize such precise about my trouble.
    You are wonderful! Thanks!

  6. Manual

    Your means of explaining all in this paragraph is actually fastidious,
    all be able to simply be aware of it, Thanks a lot.

  7. JeremyTeF

    Excellent depth 😮

    [url=]bitcoin up[/url]
    [url=]pin up[/url]

  8. Arturohegek

    1xbet зеркало рабочее на сегодня бесплатно
    [url=]1xbet актуальное зеркало на сегодня[/url]
    [url=]1xbet зеркало рабочее на сегодня бесплатно[/url]

  9. Lashonda

    Good day I am so happy I found your weblog, I really found you by
    error, while I was browsing on Askjeeve for something else,
    Anyways I am here now and would just like to say kudos for a fantastic post and a all round entertaining blog (I also
    love the theme/design), I don’t have time to read through it all
    at the minute but I have book-marked it and also added your RSS
    feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a lot
    more, Please do keep up the awesome b.

  10. cialis 5 mg

    What kind of digicam is this? That is definitely a decent good quality.

    [url=]cialis 5 mg[/url]
    [url=]spedra 200 mg[/url]

  11. Priscilla

    I every time used to study post in news papers but now as I am a user of internet thus from
    now I am using net for content, thanks to web.

  12. Caitlyn

    I like what you guys are up too. This type of clever work and reporting!

    Keep up the excellent works guys I’ve added you guys to my blogroll.

  13. Eddie

    What’s up to every one, the contents present at this website are in fact remarkable for
    people knowledge, well, keep up the good work fellows.

  14. Shenna

    Hello! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for
    this website? I’m getting tired of WordPress because I’ve had
    issues with hackers and I’m looking at options for another platform.
    I would be awesome if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

  15. Stacie

    I used to be suggested this blog by way of my cousin.
    I’m now not sure whether or not this submit is written through
    him as no one else understand such unique about my trouble.
    You are amazing! Thank you!


    Hi! This post could not be written any better!
    Reading this post reminds me of my good old room mate!
    He always kept chatting about this. I will
    forward this article to him. Fairly certain he will have a good
    read. Many thanks for sharing!

  17. Dwain

    I loved as much as you will receive carried out right here.
    The sketch is tasteful, your authored material stylish.
    nonetheless, you command get bought an edginess over that
    you wish be delivering the following. unwell unquestionably
    come more formerly again since exactly the same nearly a
    lot often inside case you shield this increase.

  18. Carl

    I’m not sure where you’re getting your information, but great topic.
    I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more.
    Thanks for great info I was looking for this info for my mission.

  19. Dylan

    Wonderful article! That is the kind of info that should be shared around the web.
    Disgrace on the search engines for no longer positioning this publish
    higher! Come on over and discuss with my site .
    Thanks =)

  20. Estela

    Spot on with this write-up, I absolutely feel this amazing site needs a great
    deal more attention. I’ll probably be returning to see more,
    thanks for the advice!

  21. gamefly

    Does your blog have a contact page? I’m having trouble locating it but,
    I’d like to send you an e-mail. I’ve got some creative ideas for your
    blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great website and I look forward to seeing it grow
    over time.

  22. air tickets booking

    Wow that was strange. I just wrote an really long comment
    but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr…
    well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyhow, just wanted to say excellent blog!

  23. mens western jackets

    Magnificent goods from you, man. I’ve take note your stuff prior to and you are simply too wonderful. I actually like what you have received here, really like what you are stating and the way during which you say it. You are making it entertaining and you continue to take care of to keep it wise. I can not wait to read far more from you. That is actually a tremendous website.


    I think that what you posted was actually very reasonable.
    But, think on this, what if you added a little information? I
    am not saying your content isn’t good, but what if you added something to maybe grab
    a person’s attention? I mean Love Self ~ Middle School Wisdom – Sacred
    Chatter is a little plain. You ought to look at Yahoo’s
    home page and note how they write post headlines to grab people interested.
    You might try adding a video or a picture or two to get people excited about everything’ve written. Just my opinion,
    it would make your website a little bit more interesting.


    Undeniably believe that which you stated. Your favorite reason seemed to be on the internet the simplest thing to be
    aware of. I say to you, I definitely get irked while people consider worries that they
    just don’t know about. You managed to hit the nail
    upon the top as well as defined out the whole thing
    without having side effect , people could take a signal.
    Will probably be back to get more. Thanks


    An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a friend who has been doing a little homework on this.
    And he actually ordered me lunch due to the fact that I discovered it for him…
    lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!!

    But yeah, thanx for spending the time to talk about this matter here on your internet site.


    Hi! This is kind of off topic but I need some guidance from an established blog.

    Is it hard to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal
    but I can figure things out pretty fast. I’m thinking about making my own but I’m not sure where to begin. Do
    you have any ideas or suggestions? Appreciate it


    You can definitely see your enthusiasm within the article you write.

    The arena hopes for even more passionate writers such as you who aren’t afraid
    to say how they believe. Always follow your heart.


    Hello exceptional blog! Does running a blog similar
    to this require a lot of work? I have no understanding of programming however I was hoping to start my own blog soon. Anyway, should you have any ideas or tips for
    new blog owners please share. I know this is off subject but I simply had to ask.
    Many thanks!

  30. zomenoferidov

    Whats Taking place i’m new to this, I stumbled upon this I’ve found It positively helpful and it has aided me out loads. I am hoping to give a contribution & aid different users like its helped me. Great job.


    Hey! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I really enjoy reading your posts.
    Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same subjects?

    Thanks for your time!

  32. sites

    Howdy! This post could not be written any better!
    Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept chatting about this.
    I will forward this post to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read.

    Many thanks for sharing!

  33. Pingback: cialis prescription cost

  34. Phillip

    My partner and I stumbled over here coming from a different website and
    thought I may as well check things out. I like what I
    see so i am just following you. Look forward to checking out your web page again.

  35. Pingback: cialis online without prescription

  36. Pingback: tadalafil prescription us

  37. RandyGew

    Some terrific pictures. Impressive colours.
    [url=]spribe aviator[/url]
    [url=]bitcoin up[/url]
    [url=]pin up[/url]

  38. BrandonAmupt

    rather lovely picture!
    [url=]cialis 5 mg[/url]
    [url=]spedra in parafarmacia[/url]

  39. a asmr

    What’s Taking place i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I have discovered It absolutely helpful
    and it has helped me out loads. I hope to contribute & aid
    different customers like its aided me. Great job.

  40. Floyd Neborak

    Have you ever considered publishing an e-book or guest authoring on other blogs? I have a blog based on the same ideas you discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information. I know my readers would appreciate your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to send me an email.|

  41. Trenton Weeber

    Hi there! This post couldn’t be written any better! Looking through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept preaching about this. I am going to send this post to him. Fairly certain he’s going to have a very good read. Many thanks for sharing!|

  42. Boyce Tyrance

    I do consider all of the ideas you have presented for your post. They are really convincing and can definitely work. Still, the posts are very short for beginners. May just you please extend them a bit from next time? Thanks for the post.|

  43. Melia Bonar

    Hello there, I discovered your web site by means of Google while searching for a comparable matter, your website got here up, it appears to be like great. I have bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.

  44. Rachal Kassebaum

    you’re in reality a just right webmaster. The web site loading speed is incredible. It sort of feels that you are doing any unique trick. In addition, The contents are masterpiece. you have done a fantastic activity on this topic!|

  45. Royce Borris

    Hey! Someone in my Myspace group shared this site with us so I came to check it out. I’m definitely loving the information. I’m book-marking and will be tweeting this to my followers! Excellent blog and brilliant design.|

  46. Cortez Scopel

    Thanks for your personal marvelous posting! I seriously enjoyed reading it, you happen to be a great author. I will make sure to bookmark your blog and will often come back later in life. I want to encourage continue your great job, have a nice afternoon!|

  47. Rosalia Carnie

    Hi there, You have performed an excellent job. I’ll certainly digg it and individually recommend to my friends. I am confident they’ll be benefited from this site.|

  48. why ps4 games

    This design is wicked! You most certainly know how to keep a reader amused.
    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start
    my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Fantastic job.
    I really loved what you had to say, and more than that,
    how you presented it. Too cool!

  49. Virgilio Stachowski

    Howdy just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The words in your article seem to be running off the screen in Ie. I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with web browser compatibility but I figured I’d post to let you know. The style and design look great though! Hope you get the problem solved soon. Thanks|

  50. Britni Ohland

    Heya i am for the first time here. I found this board and I find It really useful & it helped me out a lot. I hope to give something back and help others like you aided me.|

  51. your scoliosis surgery

    Hello there! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could find a captcha plugin for my comment form?
    I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m
    having trouble finding one? Thanks a lot!


    Thank you, I have recently been looking for info approximately this subject for ages
    and yours is the best I’ve found out so far. But, what about the
    conclusion? Are you positive in regards to the source?

  53. asmr where

    It is perfect time to make some plans for the
    long run and it’s time to be happy. I’ve learn this publish and if I could I want to recommend you few interesting things or suggestions.
    Maybe you can write next articles relating to this article.
    I desire to read even more things approximately

  54. web hosting their

    Hello, Neat post. There’s a problem along with your website
    in internet explorer, may test this? IE still is the market leader and a huge portion of folks will omit your great writing due to
    this problem.

Comments are closed.

Recent Comments

Receive weekly podcast + blog updates in your inbox!

Receive weekly podcast + blog updates in your inbox!