i’m selfish

Written by Lisa VanEngen

Lisa Van Engen is a writer from Holland, Michigan. She loves to offer up encouragement about making a difference at her website About Proximity. Lake Michigan and hiking are two of her family's favorite things to do.

April 25, 2013


A couple of months ago, I posed a question on Facebook asking people what the biggest obstacles to serving others were.

One answer pulled me back with its honesty.

I’m selfish.

Now, this person most definitely is not selfish, but the beautiful truth of it struck me. It’s not super fun to admit, but honestly we can all be selfish. I’ll admit that I sometimes am.

 A ride is fifteen minutes out-of-the-way.

Serving in the mobile food pantry line in the dead of winter is just plain cold.

My schedule can’t fit in a phone call I know will turn into hours.

I really wanted to buy something for myself, not give that money away.

I want to EBay that old car seat, not pass it on to someone who needs it.

That situation is just messy, I don’t want to get involved.

Sunday mornings are just so hard to get everyone up and going.

I’m sick of being the one to always say yes.

Lately, the term “first-world problems” has gathered recognition. This describes frustrations and complaints that might seem like a luxury to someone in a developing nation.

I think all of the above could fit under the hashtag #firstworldproblems.

God loves us with gentle grace and forgiveness. He understands that serving others is often inconvenient. When we mess that up, He gets it. I think He appreciates our honesty and desire to be more than we are, that love your neighbor command was a pretty big one.

What do you think of the term “first world problems”? Do you think first world problems is a place we, as Americans get stuck or do you feel as a society we are working to move beyond ourselves?


  1. Leslie Rowe

    A. I’m selfish too. No denying it. Struggle all the time in prayer over it. Ugh. Who will save me from this body of death? (3 guesses…)

    B. Here’s a quote from my own FB page “first world problems: when you accidentally buy “dry clean only” pants and realize you’re gonna have to dry clean if you want to wear them again.”

    Good post. We might as well all admit our selfishness, it ain’t going away apart from the daily miracle of grace.

    • Lisa Van Engen

      Ack! Dry clean only pants! 🙂 Who will save me from this body of death, I love that. You are exactly right, down on your knees about covers it!

    • Amy L. Sullivan

      Leslie, your “dry clean only” comment made me laugh!

      • Leslie Rowe

        Next first world problem: I keep forgetting to pick up those pants from the dry cleaners. 🙂

  2. Susan Rinehart Stilwell

    Yeah, I know I’m selfish. Isn’t admitting your problem the first step to recovery?
    And I’m right there with you on this one: My schedule can’t fit in a phone call I know will turn into hours.

    Good thoughts, Lisa

    • Lisa Van Engen

      So true. There is something so freeing about admitting it and accepting God’s grace. The next step for me is not leaving it there. Every time I put something before me, the results surprise and bless me 🙂

  3. Amy L. Sullivan

    First world problem? My kids have so many toys, I just don’t know how to organize them! It’s embarrassing even typing that.

    • Lisa Van Engen

      Ditto to that, so true and then some! And that bring us back to your awesome book club 🙂


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i’m selfish

by Lisa VanEngen time to read: 1 min