Sermon: Running with EnduranceNovember 25, 2019
What the Bible Teaches us About NarcissismNovember 29, 2019
Over the last few years, there has been an increased emphasis on the topic of narcissism and narcissistic abuse. Did you know that there is a close connection between narcissism and hypocrisy? Check out this excerpt from Hypocrisy Exposed to find out more:
Over the last several years, I have dealt with situations in which people exhibited the characteristics of hypocrisy that have been outlined in this book. However, I wouldn’t have known to call it hypocrisy at the time, and I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what was going on. I was just left confused by seeing the double-minded nature of the individuals and the patterns of deception I was experiencing with them. They would seem genuinely repentant, only to continue willfully in the sin they had supposedly turned from. They would say one thing to me or act a certain way in public, but then I would find out later that they were doing or saying the exact opposite in private. They would speak so convincingly, but I would later discover it was a total lie. What exactly was going on?
In one such situation, after a long time without progress, a thought came to my mind: I bet if I look up the definition of narcissist, it would fit with what we have been dealing with. I shared this thought with my wife, and we were dumb-founded by what we found when we did a search online. As we read an article on how psychologists define narcissism, we found so many parallels with how this particular individual was behaving. I made the observation that if you added a religious overtone to the characteristics of narcissism in the article, it would fit the behavior patterns we were experiencing almost identically.
Now with the fresh insight into hypocrisy that the Holy Spirit has given me, I understand that narcissism and hypocrisy go hand-in-hand. In fact, you could say that a chronic hypocrite is a religious narcissist. They exhibit many of the same qualities of a narcissist while wearing a phony Christian mask.
What is Narcissism?
Since reading that initial article, I have learned more about narcissism. I have come to see that it is a topic that has been gaining much more attention lately, not only in the world of psychology, but also in the church. I used to think that a narcissist simply referred to an individual who was a little cocky and prideful. But I have since learned that it is a much deeper issue than that.
This will certainly not be an in-depth study of narcissism, but some of the primary characteristics of a narcissist are listed below. Keep in mind that a person can have varying degrees and combinations of narcissistic qualities.
- Inflated view of self: Narcissism is really all about the worship of yourself. There is extreme selfishness and an inflated, unrealistic, and grandiose view of yourself. Self-importance and self-centeredness are driving forces behind behaviors and decisions. Underneath all of this is a fragile self-esteem, deep-seated insecurity, and an extreme level of immaturity.
- Extreme sense of entitlement: A person with high narcissistic traits will exhibit an extreme sense of entitlement. They will expect favorable treatment and automatic compliance to their wishes and desires. They will have unrealistic expectations of others and become very angry when someone defies their will.
- Lack of empathy for others: With narcissism, there is a lack of the ability to truly empathize with others. There is no genuine care for the damage that is caused in the lives of other people and no capacity or desire to see things from their perspective.
- No respect for boundaries: Narcissists see other people as an extension of themselves, who exist to meet their needs and make them happy. They do not respect the individuality of others and have no regard for their boundaries.
- Refusal to take responsibility: A narcissist will exploit, abuse, and do great damage to others. But they will refuse to take responsibility for their actions. They will manipulate, blame-shift, and minimize their harmful behavior. Only when they are backed into a corner will they admit fault or confess wrong, but it will not be with sincere repentance.
- Projection: A narcissistic person will deny the existence of evil character traits or sinful behaviors in themselves, while at the same time constantly projecting these onto others. They will accuse you of the very thing that is true of them.
- Distortion of reality: A narcissist has a warped view of reality. They are irrational in their thinking and live in a fantasy world, so to speak. They also seek to manipulate truth and distort the reality of others with whom they are in relationship.
A narcissist may seem very nice on the surface and may be very outgoing and friendly. But to the people who know them well, interact with them at a deeper level, or are in close relationship, a narcissist is a nightmare. They are not normally ugly and evil to everyone, but primarily to the specific targets of their abusive behavior. They play the hypocrite publicly, wearing a mask to cover the reality of their heart. This causes much confusion to the ones who are being damaged.
*Check out this follow up article on what the Bible teaches us about narcissism.
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