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Selfishness: What Does It Mean?
Written by Wilma Zalabak, M.Div.   
Wednesday, 01 May 2013 12:54


Who hasn't at some time been told, "Now don't be selfish"?  What was the message you received from that admonition? If you received it repeatedly, then you probably have an internal voice that automatically labels certain things selfish. I eventually came to great confusion over conflicting messages I received around the word "selfishness."


So, by the grace of God, I confronted that internal voice and have spent many years evaluating what I truly believe is selfish. Some time ago I read an old book that helped me to get all this evaluation out on paper, The Art of Selfishness, by David Seabury (New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1964).  Try out these pieces of my clarification:


  • I believe that what is best for me will not truly harm others; selfishness would seek to win at the expense of others.
  • I believe my only duty is to do the best I can; a false unselfishness might think of anyone's duty but one's own.
  • I allow myself time to think, to decide, and to develop; a false unselfishness might "deny self" or "do good" and then talk a lot about it.
  • I state my choices and do my actions with a smile; a false unselfishness might require from others or give for myself endless explanations of my choices.
  • I protect and foster my own inherited abilities; a false unselfishness might decide or think I know another person's abilities.
  • I commit to never stop growing and expanding; selfishness never stops asking, "What's in it for me?"
  • I believe that the right of choice is always mine; selfishness might talk a lot about "claiming" my rights.
  • I refuse and ignore all coercion; a false unselfishness might to do "self-sacrifice" while remaining possessive.
  • I protect always my uncompromised YES to God; a false unselfishness might say YES to too many "good" projects.
Last Updated on Thursday, 09 May 2013 13:02
"Learn to Love the Word No"
Written by Wilma Zalabak, M.Div.   
Wednesday, 01 May 2013 12:20


There is a chapter title in Bo Peabody's book, Lucky or Smart? Secrets to an Entrepreneurial Life (New York, NY: Random, 2005), that has become a mantra for me, both in business and in my personal life,  "Learn to Love the Word No."


People with good boundaries can freely say NO. When I meet a person who can happily tell me NO, I can have a pretty good idea that that person's YES will be reliable. If she can readily say NO, I figure she's not sitting around somewhere being resentful about something she got into with me that she doesn't like. This is of great value to me and my friendships.


I choose to be a person, and be around people, who love the word NO. They nurture the word NO. They champion the word NO. On the other hand, I choose not to make my closest friends among those do not love the word NO.


  • Some people punish an adult NO ("Well, just BE that way if you insist"). Maybe they use the silent treatment or walking out the door.
  • Some ignore an adult NO ("Every man knows a woman's NO really means YES"). They keep on assuming YES when NO has been said.
  • Some invalidate the NO of other adults ("Oh, come on, you know you're going to give in and do it"). Perhaps they cite Mamma, or church, or God to persuade you that your NO is useless.


I choose to learn to love the word NO.

Last Updated on Thursday, 09 May 2013 12:28
April 27, 2013
Written by Wilma Zalabak, M.Div.   
Saturday, 27 April 2013 09:09

Here's the whole TOC for "Third Millennium Church: An Interpretation of 1 Corinthians." You can see how my recent posts fit together.

Last Updated on Saturday, 27 April 2013 09:12
Boundaries: Say No, Say Yes
Written by Wilma Zalabak, M.Div.   
Wednesday, 01 May 2013 12:09


Some time ago I taught a class in which we studied Henry Cloud and John Townsend's book, Boundaries, When to Say YES, When to Say NO, to Take Control of Your Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992). It's a program of Christian stewardship, taking care of what God has entrusted to us individually for God's glory. We studied the difference between keeping boundaries and being self-centered.


  • Boundaries are full of grace rather than vengeful.
  • Boundaries carry and require responsibility rather than lacking consequences for irresponsible behavior.
  • Boundaries confront with care and respect, not allowing passivity, secrecy, or resentment to grow.
  • Boundaries encourage purposed giving, and reject coerced giving.
  • Boundaries make one response-able TO others, and never responsible FOR other adults.
  • Boundaries cause one to confront the person involved, and never involve a triangle with gossip.
  • Boundaries let one tell the truth and forgive, rather than excusing or extracting "pay."
  • Boundaries cause one to keep relationship with God in the face of God's NO or God's silence, rather than letting one break connection with God when God doesn't do what or when one thinks God should do.
Last Updated on Thursday, 09 May 2013 12:19
April 26, 2013
Written by Wilma Zalabak, M.Div.   
Friday, 26 April 2013 11:37

Find two things about church in 1 Corinthians that Paul said will survive. Read here.

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