The Gift of Self


By Harvey Hook

It’s taken me a lifetime to grasp this reality:
the greatest gift I can offer the world is the gift of myself.

Like you, I’m working on my Christmas list for family and friends. There are few things that bring me more satisfaction than bringing joy to another person.

As I pen my Christmas thoughts to you, I admit to the battle of giving my best self to others in the moment-by-moment, just make-it-through-the-day experiences of life. While I “step it up” for birthdays, holidays, and some special events, I miss chances in the multitude of commonplace work, family, and play days that fall in-between.

I miss these opportunities when I embrace a false view of self instead of one based in truth. I believe you and I tend to fall into one of two camps that keep us from being our best selves:

#1 – Self-rejection— the chronic feeling of unworthiness

#2 – Arrogance— putting yourself on a pedestal to avoid seeing yourself as you truly are

I easily slide into the unworthiness camp, which hinders me from always giving my best to others. It’s taken me a lifetime to grasp this reality: the greatest gift I can offer the world is the gift of myself. The word “self” is defined as: a person’s essential being that distinguishes them from others. It’s the thing that makes you, you, and me, me. As human beings created Imago Dei (in the image of God), there is only one true identity: “beloved of God.”

We celebrate Christmas as God giving Himself to mankind in the form of a child–Jesus of Nazareth, born in Bethlehem. If God’s greatest gift to mankind was the gift of Himself, then maybe He’s modeled something for us to give to the world as well–the gift of our self.

Henri Nouwen, in his book, Being the Beloved, writes: “Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us Beloved. Arrogance says, do something spectacular or powerful, and then you will earn the love you so desire. Being the Beloved expresses the core truth of our existence. Everything that happens to us becomes a unique opportunity to choose for the life that cannot be conquered by death.”

When God called us to love others as we love ourselves, He invited us to see ourselves and all others as He sees us.  Therein lies our identity, the identity of His beloved.

It’s God’s gift of Himself that brought this work into being. And our work is to help people discover their true identity, true being, true self and then to give it away to the world!

  • It’s the connection & blessed hope offered to 90,000 people since 1988 that we cherish
  • It’s the growth & development of our leaders by John Maxwell, Jim Tressel, and others that is moving our city forward
  • It’s the inspiration & spiritual challenge offered by Tony Dungy, Immaculee Ilibagiza, Bob Goff, John Perkins, and many more, that has moved thousands to love and serve others

As I close my thoughts on 2016, I do so with one final request.  Will you partner with Shannon, Liz, Kelsie, our board, volunteers, and me, and provide a Christmas gift to Relā to further our mission:

  • Help people Connect to God and one another,
  • Equip people to Grow personally, professionally and spiritually,
  • As they Serve by loving and restoring people and the communities in which they live.

Your gift of $10 or $10,000 will be valued equally and will be invested in ways that honor you and God alike.

To make your gift now CLICK HERE.

I pray God’s rich blessing of Himself to you this Christmas.

In Him,



















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