SYNOPSIS: In week 1, we discussed God’s original plan for our relationship with him and others. This week we’ll explore the root cause of what hinders our intimacy and connection with others. Using Paul’s letter to the Philippians as our primary text, we’ll identify how selfishness manifests itself in our lives and what practical steps we can take to follow Jesus’ example of considering others above ourselves.
Icebreaker: Choose one or more of the icebreaker questions to start the conversation. Feel free to ask another member of the group to lead the icebreaker discussion. Ask whoever poses the question to the group to be the first to answer it.
1. Describe a time when all eyes were on you (e.g., birthday party, wedding, special guest).
2. Do you prefer to be the center of attention or melt into the background? Explain.
3. What is the difference between being self-absorbed and self-aware?
LEADER’S NOTE: Play DVD Week 2 Video — Wayne Huizenga from “I Am Second”
Group Discussion Questions:
1. Wayne started his story with a series of “I wanted …” statements – I wanted a nice car … a private jet … to be respected – but later realized all of these things couldn’t fill the hole in his heart. What things have you used to fill the holes in your life but later realized you were treating a symptom and not the root cause? // Examples might include fame, fortune, sex, alcohol.
LEADER’S NOTE: As part of your preparation, review Philippians 1 to understand the full context of Paul’s instructions to the Philippians. In Philippians 2, Paul focuses on motives versus outcomes and therefore contrasts selfishness with humility. Jesus exemplifies humility even in the midst of high personal cost. Consider researching key characteristics of God that Jesus chooses to give up when he takes “the likeness of man”.
Read Philippians 2:3-4.
3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
2. What jumped out at you in this scripture passage?
3. Why does Paul single out “selfishness” or “empty conceit” in his instructions to the Philippians? // Paul identifies “selfishness” or “empty conceit” as the “root cause” or primary inhibitor of community.
4. Paul’s prescription is “with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves”.
• How do you define “humility”? // One definition defines humility as “the modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance, rank, etc.” Humility is not thinking less of oneself but simply thinking of oneself less.
• How do we practically consider someone more important than ourselves? // It may be necessary to reinforce the equality of God’s love for each of us. No one is inherently more valuable than someone else. Refer back to the first icebreaker question as specific examples of how someone “in the moment” is given greater importance. The key thought is “respect”. We respect and defer to someone we consider more important.
Note from the Editor: Perhaps the best way to illustrate respect and deference is an example when it isn’t shown. My selfishness manifests itself as the need to always be right. So much so that I may choose to interrupt someone in mid-thought so I can correct a previous statement made by him or her. My selfish need to be right is an example of how I try to elevate myself over someone rather than respecting them and deferring to them. Be on the lookout for a post on fp’s blog the week of September 12th for the full story.
5. When are you likely to not show respect and consequently focus on yourself over others?
Read Philippians 2:5-8.
5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
6. What jumped out at you in this scripture passage?
7. What steps did Jesus take to consider us more important than himself? // Explore the characteristics of God that Jesus set aside in order to be “made in the likeness of men”. For example, Jesus was and is God and is therefore omnipotent and omniscient.
8. Jesus, by virtue of being holy and righteous, was right, yet he chose to humble himself in order to have a relationship with us. His invitation requires that we choose between being right in our own eyes and ignoring his sacrifice or surrendering and accepting his sacrifice.
• Describe your current relationship with Jesus and the struggle between being right and growing your relationship with him.
• With whom do you need to elevate your relationship over being right?
Incorporate the specific relationship mentioned in the last question as part of the group prayer time.
LEADER’S NOTE: Feel free to ask another member of the group to lead the prayer time. Consider alternatives to simply creating a list of prayer requests. For example, the group could write concerns on paper and pass to another group member to pray over throughout the week or start the prayer/conversation and ask people, in one or two sentences, to share what is currently on their minds.