In the gospel of Jesus Christ there is no room for anything other than our relationship with God and our relationship with others. Nowhere do we find the current day doctrine of "self". Even when it comes to such basics as food and clothing we are told not to allow them to occupy us but instead we should be occupied by the things of the Kingdom; namely people. At the core of our understanding of relationship with God is that his love is such that when we walk in obedience he looks after all our needs. It may be at the core of understanding but it is not at the core of our practice.
In all the instruction on Christian living we find this principle in place: that our life should be lived in such a way that there are no blockages between us and God. We find it in many of Jesus' teachings as we find it here now from one of his greatest disciples:
The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. (1 Peter 4:7)
It is terrible what fear and doubt can do to your conversation with God. It is not so much that you don't know what to ask for as much as it is that you can't hear the response. Our fear and doubt often come from the root of "self". We allow our circumstances to overwhelm us and we stop doing what we are suppose to be doing. Remember Elijah and his cave experience? God's grace is such that he will meet you there but you have to be willing to surrender your future in order to receive his strength. Then we are able to get our eyes off of ourself and see the needs of those who we have been sent to serve:
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. (1 Peter 4:8-10)
The Christian life is rather simple in it's best form, the basics. We always over-complicate things by trying to build systems and programs. The basics is to take care of our relationship with God first. Develop a proper attitude toward prayer, join a group that will keep you accountable to studying the Word of God, testify to his goodness at every opportunity. In this atmosphere of communion and worship you will find the strength to serve. Service should be focused on other people as Jesus did. We need to love as he demonstrated love. With love comes forgiveness. If you don't know how to forgive then you haven't been spending enough time with Jesus. Our lives should be open to people, our home is their home and all we have is to be offered freely for God's glory. It reminds me of the parable where Jesus said that the crafty of the world know how to use money to gain friends, so why don't we understand this principal of using what we have to gain people to the Kingdom? And we should understand that our gifts and our talents were never meant to be used to get ahead in the world. They have been given to us to use in service to others. We seem to have a long way to go in understanding these things. We have received what we have by the grace of God. We are not to spend it on those who deserve it but instead on those that need it. That is grace. We needed salvation, we did not deserve it, but it was freely given.
The thing we need to keep reminding ourselves is that, it is not about us; it is not about me. It doesn't matter if you hurt me with insults because it is not about me, it is about you and God. I am only a messenger, a humble servant. In fact, I am a fool because I cannot do these things. I can't write properly. I can't preach properly. I can't even serve properly. It doesn't matter because it wasn't my first choice anyway. I do these things in obedience to his direction. Criticize, complain, point fingers, call me names but I know it is not about me, what I can and can't do. I have been called to serve you and I have to do it in God's will, his anointing and his strength, as do you:
If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:11)
I am not saying this because I have been attacked or criticized. Even if I had been it doesn't matter because I don't need to defend myself; it is not about me. I am stating this as an example of what our attitude should be as servant's of Jesus Christ. I often forget this and I need this reminding. We need to remind each other. We need to allow God to use us to provoke each other, to urge each other onward in our deepening relationship and service. We serve not for our own profit but so that the Father may be praised through Jesus Christ. It is all about God and others. So let's deflate our ego, stop focusing on our hurts and pains, stop defending ourselves and put all the energy and focus on loving Jesus and others.