A phrase often heard among the self-help crowd is “putting yourself first” and prioritizing your happiness, but this concept is antithetical to what Jesus taught. Here is what the Bible says you should put first and why.

Why the self-help gurus are wrong about putting yourself first

Self-help articles and books endlessly teach about the need to “put yourself first.” The advice promotes the idea that we only have one life to live, and while we are here, we should be happy.

And while you’ll hear slogans like “care for the caretaker,” that is a different matter. Yes, if you neglect your health, you won’t be able to help others. So take proper care of yourself. That’s an entirely different thing than prioritizing your happiness over the needs of other people and God.

People somehow believe that they should never have any moments of discomfort, struggle, boredom, or unhappiness. But all these build character resilience and make us stronger individuals. Suffering is a part of life, and it can never be alleviated completely. The self-help gurus do a disservice by preaching a “gospel” of happiness and self as a priority.

What we see becoming more pervasive is a selfish attitude resulting in a world that is less tolerant, less loving, less patient, more demanding, more selfish, needier, and, not surprisingly, less religious. The rising crime points to a world that puts self first.

What the Bible says you should put first

“You shall have no other gods before me.”

– Exodus 20:3

Above, the first of the Ten Commandments states that God is to be first in our lives.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

–Matthew 6:33

Jesus taught that if we put God first, set our minds on following God’s laws, and do what prepares us to be worthy of heaven, God will take care of our needs, already knowing what they are.

The kingdom of God refers to focusing on a higher spiritual life, for yourself and others. We can only reach that higher spiritual consciousness through a higher state of love – which is only achievable by loving others and putting the needs of others first.

Jesus summarized the Ten Commandments down to the two most important.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

– Matthew 22:36-39