As Will Marré notes, sustainable relationships require a different outlook than the competitive worldview he describes, a worldview built on self-interest. That view forever asks, “What am I getting out of this?” While on a human level this approach resonates with us, it is deceptive. It actually undermines our ability to gain what we aspire to: happiness, meaning and satisfaction.
Sustainable relationships must be built on a framework of giving; that is, outgoing concern for the other person. This approach—love—asks, “What can I do to help you? What can I do to promote your welfare?” There is an inherent aspect of selflessness and service in this approach.
Marré reduces human motivations to fear and love. These two approaches reside at opposite ends of the spectrum of get and give. As we mature, we move toward the giving approach. We learn that to have and maintain deep and meaningful connections with others we must suppress our desire to get and learn to give to others. We must consider others’ needs above our own and promote their fulfillment. The apostle John wrote, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18, English Standard Version).
Esteeming others higher than ourselves, moving toward a deeper, more godly love, actually begins to give us more of what we really should gain from life. We were created to be relational beings. Too often we seek solutions for our emptiness and frustrations by trying to get these things from others, when the solution is in the opposite approach. We gain what we seek by giving these things to others.
The apostle Paul described this approach, as lived by Jesus, in his letter to the Philippians: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3–4, New International Version).
God’s way of life promotes the healthy connections with others that we need. It may be counterintuitive, but by building up others we build who we are.