3/2/11

The Drive to "Be Somebody"

Question: How many egomaniacs does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Answer: One. The egomaniac holds the light bulb while the rest of the world revolves around him."

I (Dawn) ran across a chat group on the Internet with the unusual name, "I Am an Egomaniac with an Inferiority Complex." [Huh?]

People were invited to share their stories and experiences. One person shared a story about his alcoholism problem, and how that habit fed his complex on both ends. "Made me feel like a hero and a bum... all at the same time," the person shared. [Oh, now I get it.]

I originally thought that an egomaniac and a narcissist were the same, but they're a little different.

An egomaniac is an abnormally egotistical person ~ conceited and self centered.

A narcissist is usually considered someone overly in love with herself or himself ~ always admiring self. But a true narcissist, from the psychological point of view, can be abusive and nasty to others, and there is usually an obsessive trait present.

The easy explanation is that a narcissist is always an egomaniac, but an egomaniac may or may not have the traits necessary to be a narcissist. It gets complicated from there on out.

And I don't want to oversimplify this, because I know that narcissism includes some serious disorders, but it seems to me that both problems are rooted in pride.

We all want to "be somebody." We want people to see us and admire us. Part of me says this is so right, so natural. But then I hear the words of John the Baptist: "He must increase, and I must decrease" (John 3:30). Simply, Jesus must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. In the Amplifed Version, it reads, "He must grow more prominent; I must grow less so."

The Bible says much about the kind of pride that demands an audience to our greatness, pride that seeks prominence. We've heard many of them for years. (These are expressed in the Amplified Version.)

  • God sets himself against the proud and haughty. ~ James 4:6
  • [Paul says,] I warn everyone not to think of himself more highly than he ought (not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance). ~ Romans 12:3
  • For if any person thinks himself to be somebody... when he is nobody [of superiority except in his own estimation], he deceives and deludes and cheats himself. ~ Galatians 6:3
  • Look at the proud; his soul is not straight or right within him... ~ Habakkuk 2:4
  • Haughtiness of eyes and a proud heart ... are sin[ in the eyes of God]. ~ Proverbs 21:4
We all know there is a deep root of pride in our hearts, and God's remedy is humility and a righteous fear of God (Proverbs 3:7; 3:34; 15:33; 2 Chronicles 7:14; James 4:6).

But here's a question I've considered all week as I've thought about egomania: Is it egomania for God, or for His Son, to require that we admire, worship, and treasure Him?

Oprah Winfrey suggests that she cannot draw near to One who seems to be an egomaniac. Is God an egomaniac? Many people, in fact don't understand how a loving God could demand worship and praise from His people.

I think I found my answer. If you want to stretch your brain a bit, consider these words from John Piper: "God is the one being in the universe for whom self-exaltation is not a needy act of a needy ego, but an infinite act of giving ... for our enjoyment. This is not arrogance; this is grace. This is not egomania; this is love."

"Clearly, Jesus demands that we value Him over everything," John Piper said, in his message, "Is Jesus an Egomaniac?"

So, what about our drive to "be somebody"?

Piper says, "You weren't made to be somebody. You were made to KNOW [emphasis mine] somebody and to be thrilled to know the greatest person in the world as your friend. It's counter-intuitive at first, but when you scratch deeper, it's so right."

What do you think? Do you agree with Piper's words? How would you answer Oprah?

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