Killing Narcissism: Or, How Focusing on Others Might Just Save Our Souls

“I shall not demean my own uniqueness by envy of others. I shall stop boring into myself to discover what psychological or social categories I might belong to. Mostly I shall simply forget about myself and do my work.”  (Clyde Kilby quoted in John Piper, The Hidden Smile of God, 112)

A good friend passed this cutting quotation to me in the midst of a conversation, and I thought it too excellent to not share with friends.  It seems a scripturally saturated thought, as it pushes we who are narcissistic, self-focused sinners outside of ourselves and forces us to concentrate on other people and on bigger, more significant matters of life.

This is the kind of quotation, I think, that should not cause us to attempt knee-jerk reactions to patterns of our lives but should instead prompt us to meditate on every aspect of our existence.  It might even be worth printing out and putting up on one’s mirror.  Or one might write it on the first page of a journal.  Whatever the case, this piercing word from an old English professor caused me to sit up straight.  I’m going to try to keep it in my mind for a long time, and use it to fight sin and silly thoughts and bad habits. 

God needs to reign in my mind and life; others need to occupy my attention; I need far less attention and praise than I give myself.  This could apply to those who use Twitter, those who have never heard of Twitter, and everyone in between.  Every Christian in every place could likely use a reminder that life is not about us, and thus we should not structure our lives as if it is.  We should avoid things that tempt us to act as if this is so, and should devote ourselves to larger, more important things.

If we do so, we’ll abase or lower ourselves and we’ll lift Christ high.  We’ll worry less about our cars or clothes or Facebook pages or blogs or classes or hair growth or children, and we’ll worry far, far more about making God great.  That is no small thing (though we are).

  • http://flourishingincrisis.wordpress.com flourishgrace

    “Mostly I shall simply forget about myself and do my work.”

    I like this part of the quote best.
    To do ones work is the contribution,
    or one of the contributions one can make.
    Even narcissists sometimes do good work!
    (for the glory of themselves)

    Grace
    http://flourishingincrisis.wordpress.com/


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