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Selfish Desires – Seagulls

April 15, 2009

If anyone has seen the movie, Finding Nemo, everyone remembers the seagulls.  Their famous, repetitive phrase, “MINE!” reverberates in my ears every time I hear a seagull overhead. (If you click on the image, it will take you to a rough clip of the scene we will be discussing.) I have three children and much like the seagulls, I hear “MINE!” more times than I care to think.  It seems like one of the first of original sins is that of selfishness.

Although this is a funny scene, this depiction might allow you an opportunity to talk some about selfishness with your children.  Many of us would jump at the opportunity to take this subject head on, especially emphasizing the problems caused by sibling selfishness.  I would like to challenge you to take the message deeper and help your children understand what the Bible teaches us about selfish desires, and potential “end scenes” if this problem goes undiagnosed.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.

– Matthew 16:24

Christ talks specifically about selfishness in many of his parables, but in this verse, he takes it head on.  I love how he states, “If you want to be my follower…” Deep down, I believe we all struggle with selfishness from time to time and to go even further, selfishness will often prohibit us from truly following Christ and going “All in,” if you will.  How many times do you think we sound like the seagulls in this scene to Christ?  Whether it be with our finances and the issue of tithing or simply, giving more of our time to the Kingdom by getting up earlier in the morning, we all usually tell Christ “MINE!”

So what are some of the lessons you could teach your children using the Seagulls in Finding Nemo?

1.  Selfishness will ultimately blind and bind you! One of my favorite parts of the clip is how the pelican is able to get away from the nagging seagulls in hot pursuit of what they claim as theirs.  In my humble opinion, it is a great example of how we could also use another great passage from Matthew:

But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.
– Matthew 7:14

Just like the pelican, one who is unselfish is able to narrowly pass through openings most will not see, nor be able to pass through.  The seagulls, so blinded by their selfishness, were unable to see the narrow opening in the sail and soon found themselves bound in the sail itself.

2.  Selfishness is annoying not only to parents, but also to God. Although this particular clip is funny the first time, if you were to consistently here, “MINE!” all day, it would become rather annoying.  I would have to imagine this clip is a small commercial of what Christ often hears from those who love him.  MINE!  In one of the earlier scenes, the pelican is actually agitated by the constant gawking of gulls and tells them loudly to hush up. (he uses different words though)  The sound of selfishness to Christ has to be just as annoying and disheartening.  Christ left us constant reminders to be unselfish in our giving, just as he was.  Take some time to explain to your children how selfishness can lead to various other sins of the flesh.  It starts out annoying, but if left unchecked, it could become deadly.

3. It’s hard to stop. I laugh to myself when I think of how many times I am much like those gulls who are stuck in the the sail yet still manage to say, “MINE!”  Selfishness can become deeply rooted and this is a great reason to urge you to help teach your children about selfishness now!  Don’t you wish someone would have helped you earlier in life with this issue?  I know if the issue of “MINE!” would have been dealt with earlier in my life, perhaps I would not be wishing I had not spent so much time, money, sleepless nights, and other investments in chasing what I thought I was entitled to.

Before preaching to your children about selfishness,  I would strongly urge you to sift through the topic in your own walk.  Personally, I struggle with my selfish desires for something as simple as sleep.  I like sleep, but don’t see much of it.  I believe the last time I slept all night may have been prior to children.   I go through great lengths to defend my naptime on Saturdays and Sundays.  My schedule revolves around them and I wake up thinking about the next time I will be able to lay down.  Where most have something called sleep apnea, I have “lack of sleepaphobia.”

Sure, it’s funny, but I wonder if there are other things in my life that when Christ calls me to a deeper union with him, all I can respond with is “MINE!”

If you would like more in this series, please be sure to check out the other articles in Using Movies to Witness.

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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

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