My name is Jeremy, and I’m an egomaniac.
Let me explain. I spent this week in DC at the National Prayer Breakfast. It actually should be called the International Prayer Breakfast as it’s a gathering of people from all over the world in Jesus’s Name. I’ve had fascinating conversations about Jesus with people from a variety of nations and perspectives and will post some of my reflections on those conversations next week.
First, I want to write about an experience we had in DC before the event. On Tuesday we had the chance to take a tour of Air Force One. Like you, I had developed an idea of the plane from movies and TV shows. Seeing it up close (and of course sitting in President Obama’s chair) provided a surreal experience. There were many parts of the plane that blew me away, like the room set apart with three chairs for three medical professionals. This room can be quickly converted into a surgical room and comes with platelets for President Obama in case something serious happened to him while in air.
There were lots of aspects like this (did you know there are actually two planes?). But the one that stuck with me the most was the carpet. Air Force One has at least three distinct types of carpet on its floors. As you might imagine, this isn’t because they lacked funding to make it consistent. Rather, the carpet communicates the level of importance of that part of the plane. Each person on Air Force One has an assigned carpet level and can only walk on that level and back. Never forward. It starts with blue in the back and moves up to a gold-ish tan in the front for the President. Everything about this signaled a hierarchy. Prestige and power literally emanated from the ground up.
Now please don’t misunderstand me. I have no issue with the Presidential plane using this distinction and I’m sure it makes operations far easier in practice. But what I noticed was that this began to stir something inside me. I liked the fact I was walking through all the areas of the plane on all carpet levels. I obviously wouldn’t have this access if the plane were in flight with the President on board, but in this moment my imagination didn’t need to bother with petty details like that.
It was like taking a hit from a highly addictive drug. And like a drug, that experience took awhile to come down from afterward.
Fast forward a day. One of the crazy parts of the National Prayer Breakfast is rubbing shoulders with all sorts of amazing people. During one of the breakfasts my wife and I sat down at an empty table. Shortly thereafter others came and I began talking with an older gentleman who sat next to me. He introduced himself as Ken Blanchard and while that name seemed familiar, I didn’t immediately know why. It was only later in the conversation he mentioned he had written (the absurdly successful book) The One Minute Manager. I am familiar with that book, and quickly realized the immensity of the person sitting next to me. We had a great conversation that morning and although he seemed confident, Ken came across as a very humble person.
It was humorous to me that the closing dinner of the National Prayer Breakfast featured Ken Blanchard as the keynote speaker. My breakfast buddy. He absolutely owned the room and talked about leading like Jesus. One of his illustrations was about being an egomaniac in the context of an AA meeting. After he introduced himself as an egomaniac, he challenged us that each of us are egomaniacs as well and this is what keeps us from leading like Jesus. He asked if we could think of a time in the last 48 hours when we’d thought about what was owed us or what we would have wanted for ourselves. If we couldn’t think of anything, he suggested this was a sign you had it bad.
I thought about carpet.
I thought about walking past a private room hosting a party where I saw Andrea Bocelli, Bob Goff, Morgan Freeman, and wished I got invited to parties like that.
I thought about how I felt a tinge of disappointment that I was at the back of the room for the actual breakfast itself instead of focusing on the fact that it was the first time in my life I’ve been in the same room as the President of the United States.
Basically, I had a lot of examples. Which is discouraging to admit to you. But it’s also slightly encouraging in the sense I’m aware of it and I don’t like it and I want to commit each day to ask God to help remove it from me. As with AA, the first step is admitting the problem. The second step is allowing Jesus to transform us daily.
To my twitter friends reading this, I invite you post the acknowledgement below and join me in allowing Jesus to transform our hearts and minds away from the prevalent culture of this world. You can also copy and paste the text below into other social media platforms.
I don’t think it’s bad to enjoy things in this world. In fact, I wrote a book about it. But the moment we begin to feel entitled to those privileges something dark shifts in our hearts and prevents us from treating others like Jesus. Let’s acknowledge we all are egomaniacs and choose the radical life of serving those around us which Jesus invited us to imitate.
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:5-8
*photo courtesy of WhiteHouse.gov