ME, YOU, AND EVERYONE ELSE

I don’t think I’ve ever used the word narcissism, but I’ve heard it used and have had a sense of what it means. In a book I’m reading (entitled Honest Worship) author Manuel Luz talks about “cultural narcissism” and “narcissism in our worship.”

My understanding of narcissism was enhanced and expanded by Luz’s reference to a book entitled The Mirror Effect: How Celebrity Narcissism Is Seducing America written by Drew Pinsky and S. Mark Young. Luz relays what Pinsky and Young note are “the seven traits classically associated with clinical narcissism” – authority, entitlement, exhibitionism, exploitativeness, self-sufficiency, superiority, and vanity.

Just reading that list of traits gives us insight into both the book by Pinsky and Young How Celebrity Narcissism Is Seducing America as well Luz’s observation about “narcissism in our worship.” Simply stated, narcissism is about focusing on oneself and putting self first before anyone else. I’ve tried to capture the idea with the title of this post giving the narcissistic priority: me, you, and everyone else.

I don’t plan to get and read The Mirror Effect, but I think the seven traits of narcissism the authors list make sense. Other descriptions that come to my mind in reading their list include egotistical, judgmental, self-centered, user of others, show-off, deserving, and demanding.

Not to be guilty of being judgmental myself, but I think all of us are aware of some celebrities (certainly not all) who exhibit these traits to some degree. And hopefully as Christians, even though we don’t always act like it, we know that worship is not about us, but God.

The issue of narcissism, however, is not just about worship and celebrities. The traits listed by Pinsky and Young show up in the lives of those who are not celebrities and in lots of places beyond worship. You and I may even exhibit these traits ourselves at times. I know I do.

Narcissism is the opposite of one of Jesus’ best known and oft quoted list of qualifications to be one of his followers: “Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me’.” (Luke 9:23). Being a disciple of Jesus is about getting oneself out of the center, being willing to make sacrifices, and imitating Jesus.

The Apostle Paul presents a similar challenge in his letter to the Philippians:Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests (only) but each of you to the interests of others (2:3 and 4). Sounds like the opposite of the seven traits of narcissism, doesn’t it?

Perhaps I should reverse the order in the title of this blog from me, you, and everyone else to everyone else, you, and me? What do you think?

Feel free to leave a comment below and/or share this post on Facebook or other social media.

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TOO OFTEN?

After my wife Jan and I concluded a phone conversation recently I realized that I close almost every conversation with her by saying “I love you.” As I thought about that it also occurred to me that every time I leave my daughter’s house and say good night to my two grandsons I tell them “I love you.”  A few weeks earlier I had noticed that almost all of my phone calls with both my son and my daughter also end with “I love you.”

Primarily thinking about Jan, but also the others as well, I asked myself the question, “Can you say I love you too often to your family?” I didn’t answer myself out loud, but my initial thought was – probably not.

I continued my conversation with myself by adding to probably not “as long as you mean it.” Then I also added to my probably not “as long as it doesn’t become an automatic and thoughtless good-by.”

Moving forward with my one on one conversation with myself I then asked myself, “Do you ever get tired of hearing one of them say I love you?” My answer was an emphatic “no.” As a matter of fact I thought, I wish my grandsons would say it more often.

I can’t imagine that too many people would get tired of being told they are loved by someone, unless they thought the person who said it did not mean it or they thought the words were thoughtless.

Getting deeper into my back and forth with myself I had another thought. Telling someone you love them is certainly important – but equally important, if not more important, is showing them you love them.

One of the ways we show someone we love them is through and by our words – like telling them “I love you” – but there are other words and ways as well. Among other ways we let them know with words we love them is when we thank them and affirm them.

Another way of showing them we love them is by listening to them. Sometimes what those we love need to feel loved is to be listened to – our spouse, our children, and our grandchildren. One the best ways I have learned to hear from my wife, daughter, son, and grandsons is to ask them about their day, their schedule, and their plans. When things are not too chaotic, especially with a four year old and an eight year old, I ask follow up questions to hear more.

I don’t think I say “I love you” too often. But to be candid, I think too often I am better at saying “I love you” than I am in showing my loved ones I love them. Having had this conversation with myself, I hope to do better.

How about you? Feel free to leave a comment below and/or share this post on Facebook or other social media.