WoW 118: On fighting against selfishness [Words of Wisdom]

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WoW 118: On fighting against selfishness

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Your flourishing depends on the depth of your character.

Your achievements are secondary. Your virtue is primary.

Your depth of character depends on how much you are able to move from vice to virtue.

Your vices, or strongholds, are those patterns of struggles that disconnect you from God, from yourself, and from others.

I have identified the ​the 5 core strongholds​ as selfishness, dishonesty, fear, resentment, and distorted thinking.

Reflecting on your strongholds is like a maze. it is full of distorted thinking dead ends. it is fraught with danger and opportunity. The danger is that you get sucked into temptations and actually feed your strongholds while reflecting on them. The opportunity is that you learn to identify and surrender your strongholds.

A simple way to fight against your strongholds is through intentional reflection and prayer.

Take 5 minutes a day to sit in quiet reflection and prayer about your strongholds. Ignatius of Loyola, in his book The Spiritual Exercises, first called this type of rigorous self-reflection a daily examen and it is a way to pray through your strongholds each day.

Let's focus on selfishness today.

As I've written ​previously​:

Selfishness is when your focus is on what you need and want at the expense of others. Selfishness can be a form of self-protection or hoarding power: avoiding vulnerability and refusing to sacrifice always causes harm to someone else. Selfishness is deadly serious and destroys faith and worship.

When selfish, you are not asking: "How can I empower, serve, sacrifice for, and love?"

When selfish, you believe: "My needs come first.", "I am most important.", "I need to be needed.", "I need to be right.", "I must get my way.", "I must be the best.", "It's not my fault.", "Poor me."

No one likes to think of themselves as selfish. But if we are honest with ourselves, it happens more than we would like. A core part of the spiritual journey is to root out selfishness and replace it with the faith to follow the Lord.

Here is one way to pray through selfishness: (Listen to a recording of me praying this prayer by clicking the link at the top of this page.)

Oh God our Father,

High King of the heavens and the earth,

Search my heart today.

Show me if I had any selfishness.

To what degree did I seek my own agenda instead of yours?

To what degree did I put myself first, in front of others?

To what degree did I desire pleasure too much?

To what degree did I desire possessions too much?

To what degree did I desire achievement too much?

Forgive me for my selfishness.

I surrender my selfishness to you.

Root out my desire to put myself first.

Grow in me a desire to serve you alone,

And to love others.

I turn my will and my life over to you.

I worship you my King.

Here I am. Lead me.

Help me to notice and respond to your promptings today.

I follow and serve You alone.



"For this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things in all that is allowed to the choice of our free will and is not prohibited to it; so that, on our part, we want not health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, long rather than short life, and so in all the rest; desiring and choosing only what is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created."

Ignatius of Loyola, ​The Spiritual Exercises ​

“The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it.”

J.M. Barrie, ​The Little Minister​


Do I have hope I can overcome my strongholds with God’s help?

How have I been selfish lately?

What are the fears underneath my selfishness?

(Use these questions as a journal prompt and to guide your prayers this week)


God desires the best for you, and your best is to desire Him above all else.

Live wisely,



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