Discovering me: Spiritual narcissism

Discovering me Part 2 is here and today we’re doing it a little bit differently. 🙂 A podcast! Do have a listen. Below is a transcript of the podcast conversation with RuthPearl about Narcissism to help you follow along.


In her own words, RuthPearl(RP) describes herself as a Strategic Communicator, Storyteller as well as an Evidence Enthusiast. What I’d add to this is that her enthusiasm for life coupled with her depth of knowledge makes her a lady any young girl would look up to. Countless times, she sheds light on the areas no one is willing to speak about and this boldness is something worth writing home about. Always up to date with the current trends and happenings, I consider her my caring and sassy elder sister with wisdom abounding. Hence why I felt the need to let us hear from her here on Bloom. Today, in this ‘Discovering me’ series, she sheds light on Narcissism and what it means in relation to our identity.


How did we get here?

We are talking about the ‘Discovering me series’ and just a background of how we got here. RP and I were at Arboretum park for our book club, Words in the Wild. So we started talking about how she watched something online and she may talk about that…

I’ve repeated this story so many times and I need to find where it was online so that the next time I talk about it I can reference them. So, I waste a lot of my time on Instagram live videos and if I happen to go and find something interesting, I’ll stay. I follow a group called Ethics …….

They are a Christian Evangelical organization that cares about the things that the church cares about like family etc. This time, they were having a conference on the topic of family. I came across their panel discussion once I tuned into their Insta live. A question was asked to a guy who works with young people within the college students age group in the US. He was asked what it’s like working with this generation of college students who were born in the age of an iPhone. Actually they said something about the statistics being that 80-90% of them own one and I assume the other 10-20% percent own an Android smart phone. So basically, they live with iPhones as a part of their life. Which isn’t what I grew up with nor what my parents grew up with. So how does that change how they live? :/

He commented and said that these students appear very confident and share their lives more than any other generation ever did. I agree and actually, if I literally go to someone’s social media page, I can see their whole lives. Some of you have private accounts and all but in one way or another, you share a part of your life using your smart phone. So it appears as a lot of confidence, positivity, expression; people are in multiple activities, always doing something new. He said that something one would not obviously see about these young people, is that because of all this external focus, they have something that he referred to as insecure narcissism.black-and-white-person-woman-girl

And I thought, wow! Those are two words or a phrase that I hadn’t really thought about. But that’s how it is when you’re sharing your whole life out there and you’re saying ‘affirm me, talk to me” all the time. What this essentially does is that this external way of living outside rather than inside yourself, creates what he referred to as crippling paralysis. An internal sense of worth that is externally validated. So many of us are anxious and in many ways paralyzed because of this narcissism.  I was very touched by it and related to it; perhaps I had experienced it myself even if I’m not in your generation. Haha!

He went on to recommend something. What he does as he works with students is to get them off their phones and look out. A lot of what is staring at us on our phones is looking at others and ourselves. This means we aren’t aware of the meanings of things that happen around us. We are in this little cocoon of our own; each sharing our lives and trying to up one another on who’s the fancier person, who has flown out more. Etc. He says; “ Look out!” See that there’s a whole world out there. Issues and concerns to engage with and address. And he said, “What’s even better than that is to look up! Because the only way to actually deal with this is to turn the selfie camera away from ourselves and towards God. We weren’t created to stare at ourselves all day. We were created to stare at God all day! This is why He gave us nature and the sunrise. Like this morning, the most beautiful moon shone at 5 o’clock in the morning. He gave us creation so that we could stare at Him.

black-and-white-field-jogger-jogging

I think that’s the question, I’d ask myself and you too. How much time are we spending staring at God vs ourselves? Even when we are looking at other people’s lives on social media, essentially what we’re doing is staring at ourselves, because what we’re trying to determine is where do I stand in comparison with others.

We’ve talked about narcissism but what is it?

I’m not so good at coming up with definitions myself so I relied on the good folks at crosswalk.com. who already had a definition of what it is here.

A Spiritual Narcissist is someone who uses the Gospel to build themselves up while they tear others down. If left unchecked, their actions can inflict devastating harm on both Christians and non-Christians alike.

1.) They Constantly Reference their own Achievements

Scripture tells us not seek our own glory and to let our work stand on its own (Proverbs 27:2), but the Spiritual Narcissist will flaunt anything they believe might bring them praise.

2.) They Invade Conversations

The Spiritual Narcissist craves control, and their highest authority is always their own self-reference.

As a result, it’s not uncommon for them to invade the personal or private conversations of others. They’ll often do this under the guise of “helping” or “correcting” fellow Christians, but they have no real interest in two-way dialogue. You’ll notice they also have a way of injecting their own opinions into situations, and are the first voice their complaints about recent events in the Church. The Bible warns that such people create division among believers and serve only their own appetites (Romans 16:17-18Psalms 36:1-4).

3.) They Twist Scripture

Susan B. Anthony once said, “I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires”. In the same way, a Spiritual Narcissist uses scripture as a tool for theirpurpose instead of God’s. They approach the Bible with a closed mind, memorizing only a handful of useful verses that will justify their behavior. Anything else, particularly scripture that conflicts with their actions, gets ignored. Like the men of Jude 1:4, they should not to be trusted.

4.) They Profess Love, but Never Show It

Perhaps the easiest way to identify a Spiritual Narcissist is to see if their works match their words.

5.) They Talk, but They Don’t Listen

Listening can be a powerful tool for Christians. Listening builds trust, creates empathy, and fosters understanding among individuals. James 1:19 even urges believers to be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. The Spiritual Narcissist, by contrast, is quick to speak, quick to take offense, and incapable of listening. They enjoy being the loudest one in the room, and the idea of deferring to someone else galls them.

Can you think of someone with these traits? Or a personal experience of the above?

It’s important for us to think about it so that we may be useful to the world. We need to be aware of our own impediments; to really bring ourselves to Jesus’ feet and say, “Lord, I’m struggling with this inability to listen… I’m struggling with a need to affirm myself by taunting everybody with my achievements….” Unless we can be honest with ourselves, we offer very little hope to the world. This is important for us to be able to ‘Go ye therefore’.

How is a Christian to engage this issue?

Well, Crosswalk had 4 different ideas on how a Christian can engage with this spiritual narcissist person whom you’ve created in your head right now, though you haven’t yet said their name.

  •  The best way for Christians to counter this display is to follow the example of Micah 6:8, live justly, show mercy, and walk humbly with the LORD your God.
  • There’s no good way to speak with Spiritual Narcissists (Proverbs 26:4-5), the best response Christians can make is stand their ground and refuse to be bullied.
  •  The best defense Christians have against this kind of faulty theology is to simply read the Bible. The more familiar we become with God’s work, the more familiar we become with God.
  • A true Christian listens to others, even when they might not agree with them. Listening requires that we be selfless, which is the one thing a Spiritual Narcissist can never be.

How do I care for my own mental health? How do I respond to the little elements of narcissism I see in myself?

We all have this narcissism happening to us to an extent, but in different extremes. Jim Tour at Nabeel Qureshi’s funeral talks about challenging Nabeel. (Nabeel was a Christian apologist; a convert from Islam and author of the book ‘Seeking Allah Finding Jesus’. He passed away a month ago after succumbing to stomach cancer. You can follow this link to watch it.)

He asked him what he had been reading in scripture and Nabeel said, “I’ve been reading on this….trying to see if this matches this…I’ve found this…”

Then Jim asked, “But what has God been saying to you?”

Nabeel said, “I don’t think He’s been saying much.”

Jim then says to him, “You need to repent. (please note Jim is like a chemistry professor that’s among the most 10 quoted ones in the whole world. ) Anyway, he says, “Nabeel, your problem is that you don’t really believe that these words you’re reading from the Bible are the word of God. And if they are the Word of God, then you need to repent. You need to stop everything and say God, forgive me for not reading these words as your Word. Because if they are your words Lord, they will transform me. It means every time I read it, it’s Jesus speaking to me.”

And this struck with me. It made me realize that when we walk into our time of reading the Bible, it’s not just ticking a box. It is saying, “Lord, what do you plan on saying to me today? What are your words doing to me?”

His word is powerful, it circumcises our hearts, it separates flesh and marrow and I think to me, that’s the way to engage. If we are at that point of vulnerability with Christ, He will be talking to us about the issues in our lives. He will be pointing out to us, “Ruth Pearl, you’ve been a bit too this way…what’s going on? Where is your heart? Why do you feel the need to tell someone you’ve worked for 12 years in xyz area. What’s really going on?”

If you listen to the voice of God, He is usually pointing out ways that we are not pleasing to Him. It is He that will reform us into someone that’s not a spiritual narcissist. That’s the best advice I and Nabeel’s funeral video could offer anyone about this. Plus, the Word does point us back to Him. Remember the whole turning the selfie camera to Him?IMG-20160411-WA0086


Such wise words huh? (Joy speaking)  This really made me think about whether I use my ‘selfie camera’ to define myself or whether I have turned the camera towards Him and let Him define me. My take home; Insecure narcissism and Crippling paralysis. Do these define me? If so, how will I let God reform me? How will I turn the selfie camera away from myself and look up to God?

I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Hehe…my fellow millennials where are you? Let’s connect more in the comments. Ask questions as well, I’m sure RP would be more than willing to share more wisdom with us. 🙂

Soli deo Gloria!

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