“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.”— Romans 15:1-2
My all-time favorite comedian is Brian Regan. He is funny and clean—a hard combination to find these days. In one of his routines, he talks about running into a “Me Monster,” a guy who doesn’t realize he is doing all the talking for everyone else and trying to top everyone’s story. It’s funny … and convicting.
Identifying other Me Monsters is easy. It’s not hard to spot people who are completely consumed with themselves. Once you’ve met one, you will never forget them. Me Monsters are everywhere. They lurk in sports, schools, businesses, communities and even in families.
There are three characteristics all Me Monsters have in common:
1. They are self-absorbed.
2. They care more about themselves than others.
3. They have no self-awareness.
The first full-blown Me Monster I encountered was a teammate on one of my lacrosse teams. He was excited after a tough loss because he scored his goals. His excitement about how well he played and his performance on the field was vividly evident. He was focused on himself as an individual, not our team. If we won a big game and he didn’t score or play well, he would be visibility upset in the locker room. I never saw him celebrate another teammate’s success. He demonstrated all three Me Monster characteristics.
My teammate was an incredibly skilled lacrosse player. However, because of his pursuit of self, he was not a great player. He wasn’t even a good player. He was a dangerous player who damaged team chemistry and interfered with teamwork, trust and loyalty. He lived by a me-over-you philosophy.
The part that bothered me most about him was not that he was on the team or that he had great skills that I didn’t have. What bugged me the most was that being around him revealed the same selfish drive in me.
My Me Monster was hidden in my heart.
Over time, I started to see that I was just like him, but I kept it secret. I was consumed with my own play. Not wanting to celebrate my teammates for doing well, I wanted all the glory. My teammate let it all hang out because he didn’t care what others thought about him. What you saw was what you got! This wasn’t the case with me.
As a Christian, I couldn’t let my Me Monster be seen so I controlled it. It lurked below the surface. But this actually made me worse than a Me Monster; it made me a hypocritical Me Monster. Fortunately, God used the relationship with my teammate to work on my heart and reveal what I needed to change.
In Mark 10, we read Jesus’ conversation with a rich man that revealed his Me Monster. He came to Jesus asking what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus said “Keep the commandments” to make a point: it’s impossible to be perfect. Interestingly, the man actually thought he could meet that standard. So Jesus drove to the heart of the matter.
Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. – Mark 10:21–22
This man was a Me Monster who liked owning a lot of stuff. He didn’t want to share his wealth with others who had need. He didn’t want to give anything away. It made him feel good to be better than others. He wanted to stand out rather than serve. This story about Jesus’ exchange with the rich man is a constant reminder that it’s not about us.
There are three ways to kill the Me Monster:
1. Celebrate others’ success.
2. Pray for others.
3. Serve others.
We have too much:
Pride and not enough humility.
Selfishness and not enough serving.
Self-promotion and not enough celebrating others.
We must be committed to celebrating the successes of others regardless of our own success, or lack thereof. We must be committed to praying for others. It’s hard to be a Me Monster when we are lifting others up in prayer. And we must be committed to serving others when it’s not convenient.
The apostle Paul reminds us in Galatians 2:20 that we need to be crucified to self so Christ can live in us and through us. If we will daily put ourselves second and become a living sacrifice, we will crucify the Me Monster.
This is why I love the Fellowship of Christian Athletes – a ministry filled with men and women from around the world who are called by God to reach coaches and athletes with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. These teammates of mine are committed to killing their Me Monsters daily. It is incredible to serve with faithful warriors who have a sober self-assessment (Romans 12:3) and know that a Me Monster lurks in each of us.
Our lives are meant to be lived for others. Give others permission to call you out when the Me Monster surfaces. A simple “Hey, you’re acting like a Me Monster” will quickly ground you and help you stop trying to impress everyone. Beware of the Me Monster and remember—it’s not about you.
Dan Britton is the Chief Field Officer for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He has served FCA since 1990, and since 2013, has led FCA’s international efforts, traveling extensively around the world, as FCA works in 92 countries, training thousands of sports leaders, coaches and athletes.