Die to self - James Tadrzak
Standing on the central deck of TreeTop Towers, some 30 feet in the air, the wind blows sharply against my face, piercing the sliver of exposed skin between my mask and my beanie. The tower gently rocks as I look out on the gloomy horizon, and I think to myself, “I don’t know if I’ve ever been this cold before.” Turning back, I see a guest approaching, trekking up the rope bridge with a mixed look of excitement and fear. What he doesn’t realize is that mere moments ago, I was huddled with the other facilitators in the sanctuary of the equipment shed, shielded from the brutal chill of the wind, hoping with every fiber of my being that no more guests would show up to the activity. Yet there he was. As I eke out a greeting through chattering teeth, I ponder the reason why I’m even up here.
Before The Fellowship, I thought of myself as a pretty selfless guy. I went on several mission trips. I did some volunteer work. Heck, I would even pick up my friends’ trash whenever we finished our meal at Chick-fil-A (as long as I was already in the process of throwing my own trash away – let's not get too crazy).
However, since joining The Fellowship, the Lord has begun to unravel my view of selfless actions. Whether I would admit it or not, the vast majority of the time I was doing what I thought were “selfless” acts, I was actually seeking to gain the adoration or approval of those around me. I would often catch myself thinking, “Man, I hope somebody sees me doing this.”
But that shouldn't be why I do what I do. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” The Fellowship constantly reminds me of this truth intangible (often painful) ways – there's no personal glory to be gained from fishing through a pre-moistened trash can to remove the remnants of a week-old chocolate milkshake.
A common phrase used amongst Fellows – both past and present – is, “Die to self.” This has often been my mantra in times of particularly difficult circumstances in The Fellowship, however, I believe this should be the ultimate goal of every Believer. In order to truly glorify the Lord and serve others well, we must be willing to sacrifice our time, our energy, and our personal desires.
While The Fellowship has been a life-changing experience for me in so many ways (providing me with an incredible Christian community, reinvigorating my walk with Christ, cultivating spiritual disciplines, producing friendships that will last a lifetime), I think that one of the most valuable takeaways I have gotten is the solidification of my reason why. In everything I do, whether it’s facilitating a ropes activity in a 19° windchill, responding to a guest’s call in the middle of the night, or spending every meal serving in the dining hall, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)