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July 10, 2024 | Daily Devotionals | July 10

The Narcissist Pandemic


Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. ––Philippians 2:3-4


The Greek youth Narcissus caught his reflection in a pool of water and fell in love with himself; from then on, no one else was good enough. Even though the word “narcissist” has been around since the Doric column, it really seems to have come into vogue in the past several decades. British Two-Tone Ska band The Beat captured the image of a narcissist well in their song “Mirror in the Bathroom.” I particularly like the line, “Can I take you to a restaurant that’s got glass tables? You can watch yourself while you are eating.” 


Today the word “narcissist” gets thrown around a lot. “Oh, that politician (or actor, or musician) is such a narcissist.” But what does the word actually mean? According to the Mayo Clinic, “Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental health condition in which people have an unreasonably high sense of their own importance.” But behind this mask of extreme confidence, narcissists are not sure of their self-worth and are easily upset by the slightest criticism. Sound familiar with folks you know?


Have you noticed how many people claim to have either 1) dated a narcissist, or 2) work(ed) for one? But according to the Cleveland Clinic, only .05% to 5% of American adults are what you would call clinical narcissists. So what’s with all the other mean, selfish, or otherwise self-absorbed people out there? (And we all KNOW they are out there!) 


It’s actually pretty simple, and the official symptoms have been around for millennia: “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31, NKJV). In other words, this “common cold of the spirit” is called our fallen nature. (Thanks, Adam and Eve.) By no means am I downplaying the corrosive effects of true narcissism. And God knows that many MORE people than just 5% have narcissistic tendencies.


Our role, then, as God’s men, is to have truth-tellers in our lives who will call us out on selfish or otherwise narcissistic behavior. God’s men point out noxious attitudes in their brothers. Do the same; receive the same. All in the spirit of Christ. 


Father, kill the narcissistic spirit within me and let Your Holy Spirit arise.


David Steele / Everett Morton / Andrew Cox / Roger Charlery / David Frederick Wakeling, Mirror in the Bathroom lyrics © London Music (gb 1)


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