How to replace self-seeking with self-sacrifice at work

the most excellent way Feb 26, 2024

I will show you the most excellent way…Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (1 Corinthians 12:31, 13:4-5) 

To the church in Corinth, Paul promised to show them “the most excellent way” to steward their spiritual and vocational gifts. He then proceeded to launch into the famous “Love Chapter” of 1 Corinthians 13 explaining what Christian love is and what it is not.

Of all the attributes Paul lists, not being “self-seeking” may be the rarest in the modern workplace. We live at a time when the idea of self-sacrifice is viewed as naive at best and career-ending at worst. But self-sacrifice is the way of The Way, Jesus Christ.

In Philippians 2:3-4, Paul says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition…Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

You can almost hear Paul’s readers screaming, “How, Paul!?” To which he says, “Have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” who “made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” for us (Philippians 2:5-7).

In other words, it is only as we meditate on the example of the One who “chose meekness over majesty” that we will be able to love in a way that is “not self-seeking.”

What does it look like practically to work in ways that are not self-seeking? There are infinite answers to that question. Here are just three.

#1: Listen to understand—not to win. Oftentimes we hear what our co-workers are saying, but we don’t actually listen, because we’re mentally calculating how we will respond in order to pivot the conversation towards our agenda. Paul’s command to not be self-seeking compels us to truly listen and understand the needs and desires of others.

#2: Open your calendar to those who can’t serve you. Any of’s thousands of employees can get one-on-one time with CEO, Deb Liu—even an intern. Why? Because Deb isn’t self-seeking with her time. She is seeking the needs of her team as she explained on my podcast.

#3: Serve first, sell second. Commenting on today’s passage, a marketer named Debbie La Bell told me, “Our culture says ‘love yourself first,’ and then out of the resources of your self-love, you'll have the capacity to love those around you. Whereas Jesus tells us to love one another and trust him to provide what we need.” And that leads her team to create marketing messages that serve way more than they sell. 

These three actions aren’t meant to be prescriptive, but inspirational. Take a moment right now to pray and think about where God is calling you to replace self-seeking with self-sacrifice in your work today.


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