By M.R. Conrad. Reposted from Rooted Thinking.
“I need some me time,” says everyone these days—parents, employees, even Olympic athletes. In the current vernacular, time with God could also be viewed as spiritual me time. Without even realizing it, we can begin to substitute personal wellness for closeness to God—but they aren’t the same thing. If we make that switch, we will experience the spiritual dryness brought on by narcissism.
Recognizing Our Inner Narcissist
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a narcissist as “an extremely self-centered person who has an exaggerated sense of self-importance.” Virtually no one who reads that definition will consider himself to be a narcissist. When we think of a narcissist, most people immediately picture someone else—an Instagram influencer, a pop star, a professional athlete, or a certain former president.
No one imagines themselves to be a narcissist, but we have all been groomed for this role. From birth, we naturally put ourselves first. Modern society, education, and parenting encourages and amplifies this self-worship. Instead of curbing our self-absorption, we cultivate it. Furthermore, this perspective is so ingrained in us and affirmed by our peers that we often cannot see it in ourselves.
The Loneliness of Narcissism
When a narcissistic worldview influences or even shapes our thinking, our walk with God becomes lonely. We seek for God but find only ourselves. A spiritual dryness sucks the life out of our devotions.
Instead of rejoicing in our great God in our quiet time, we can easily skip thankful praise and head straight for narcissistic application. What can this Bible verse do for me? How is God helping me live my best life now? What steps can I take to get God to help me reach my potential? Where can I get that feeling of value? How can God confirm the identity I have assigned myself?
When the focus moves away from God and His will to ourselves and our agenda, our devotional times lose their purpose. We begin to feel this is a waste of time—and we are right. Self-centered devotions are useless. A relationship of one is no relationship at all. A god that submits to us and our will is not the true God. Our worship has turned inward on itself. Like Narcissus of the Greek myths, we stare at our own reflection alone.
God’s View of Narcissism
While our modern world with its philosophies, media, and technology has taken narcissism to new extremes, self-centeredness is nothing new. The Bible often warns against it.
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves … having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (2 Timothy 3:1–5)
Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! (Isaiah 5:21)
If you have been foolish in exalting yourself … put your hand on your mouth. (Proverbs 30:32)
Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD. (Proverbs 16:5)
Related Tips to Combat Spiritual Dryness Caused by Narcissism1
- Begin your quiet time with God by listening to Him. Read His Word first. Pray in response to what He has said in His Word.
- Fill your mind and heart with what God has said by memorizing and meditating on Scripture.
- Begin your prayers with praise and adoration, like the Lord’s Prayer does.
- Submit your will to God’s will, asking Him to shape your desires. Surrender to do what God wants you to do.
- Cultivate a spirit of thankfulness for who God is and what He has already done. Beware of fixating on what has not been given to you or what others have.
- Spend more time with God than you do on social media.
- Find friends who value talking about God and serving others. Avoid those who seek attention for themselves.
- Beware of demanding that others accept you. Seek God’s acceptance above all and seek to please Him.
- Read missionary biographies to see how Christians of the past viewed their relationship with God and found intimacy with Him.2
Making yourself the center of your walk with God is spiritually deadening. God must be the focus. Serve Him, not yourself. Spend time with God because He wants to be with you, not for whatever you feel you get out of it. Beware of your time with God slipping into a worship service of yourself.
1 Spiritual dryness can occur for many different reasons. This article is part of a series in Rooted Thinking. Read more about other factors in the related posts: #1 Introduction, #2 Quietness, #3 Misplaced Hunger, and #4 Double-Mindedness
2 My missions devotional, Daring Devotion: A 31-Day Journey with those who Lived God’s Promises, can point you to some excellent biographies. In addition, an upcoming sequel, Daring Dependence, will further highlight the spiritual life of those God has used in the past. Find out more at www.mrconrad.net.
Dr. Conrad serves in urban Asia. He, his wife, and their four children squeeze into a 700 square-foot apartment where he seizes rare moments of quiet to write amidst homeschooling, a cacophony of musical instruments, and the steady stream of visitors they so enjoy having in their home. He enjoys birding, board games, and basketball. He is the author of Daring Devotion: A 31-Day Journey with those who Lived God’s Promises.