Philippians 2: 3,4 Death to Narcissism

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

Death to Narcissism

Narcissism is a natural stage in human development.  Our two year old daughter is right in the thick of it.  She has a little empathy, but when there is something she wants, she says “but I want it … but I WANT IT … BUT I WANT IT!”  Then she melts down in a fit of uncontrollable rage and tears.  Unfortunately too many parents find it hard to engage with children at this stage and teach them that their rage pays off.  Bridezilla screams in her wedding plans, movie stars and singers dictate the accomodations that must be afforded them in a hotel room, and sisters insist wedding plans be moved to accomadate their needs rather than fighting to change their own.  In a society which has it their way, we have become narcissistic. 

Narcissism also sees people as an extension of self.  This means that when I think something should happen and it doesn’t, it is as frustrating for the narcissist as if one of their own hands has ceased to function.  My narcissism came through in dating where I wore a pretty girl as an accesory to me.  Their poor performance at field hockey or social functions was a threat to me.  I was acting like Amelia.  I was acting like a two year old when I dictated to them that they should change their personality and abilities to suit me.

For the Christian it is all about Jesus.  Jesus teaches us to live for others.  Not only do we sacrifice oursleves, our comfort, and our schedule to serve God, but also to serve others.  There is no room for narcissism.  The Christian loses self as they mature.  The self is less sick and requires less attention, and others are always in need.  Our self is still there, but its focus is not on itself.  Success is not another dusty trophy on a shelf.  It is measured by the spiritual growth in those we touch.

 Prayer

I get angry and frustrated when I look only to my own agenda.  I am mad when my time is taken.  I even overlook my children in fighting for a little solitude.  Help me to see ways to serve my friends and family best.

Questions

  1. To what should the Philippians look?
  2. How does this resolve conflict?
  3. Is one going to look to one’s own interests?
  4. Do you both care for your own interests and the interests of others?
  5. How do these verses touch your closest relationships?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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