A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

“The same principle holds, you know, for more everyday matters. Even in social life, you will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making. Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring two pence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. The principle runs through all life from top to bottom. Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it (p. 226).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

Self-preoccupation may be the world’s most secure prison. How much of our truncated, fearful, bitter, self-destructive, or prejudicial thinking is generated from a fixation on self?

The problem is bigger than unpleasant emotions. The more we focus on our self and what others think of us the less effective we become at whatever we are doing.

  • A comedian focused on what the crowd thinks of him is less funny.
  • An athlete worried about how the media will gauge his performance has weaker instincts.
  • A writer concerned about his critics’ reviews is less creative.
  • A politician concerned about his approval rating loses his convictions.
  • A parent worried about whether their child likes them is less consistent.
  • A counselor worried about what he will say next listens poorly and is less insightful.

The thing we want most (whatever it is) will cost us what we do most naturally (fixate on self). What does it take to obtain the life we all want?

We must find something that:

  1. Draws our attention away from our self.
  2. Can keep our attention for a lifetime.
  3. Moves us towards love rather than power.

There are many things that can accomplish “A.” Every time we are caught up in a moment of awe this objective has been accomplished.

There are very few things on the A-list that can also accomplish “B.” Especially in a day of information overload, we are quickly bored or distracted; or our pleasure fades with age.

However, only the gospel can accomplish “C.” Every other pleasure drives us to control or mastery and turns us in on ourselves or becomes increasingly less relevant as we near death. The sooner and more fully we embrace the gospel the longer and more completely we know life.