Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Narcissism In the Church and Other Ways to Be a Hypocrite

*SLAP* Did you feel that?  *SLAP SLAP* How about that one?  *KICK SLAP* Hello?  You there? *PUNCH PUNCH SLAP PINCH KICK ELBOW PUNCH* There you’re coming around.   I can see the life coming back into your eyes, the thought processes starting to compute, and a realization that you’re not the only one on this planet.  Welcome back to the real world…or is it?

Recently I submitted an article to our church newsletter.  And as usual, I didn’t have an article ready, so I did what I usually do in this type of situation and submitted a blog entry.  When I’m in a pinch and getting a death glare from our Office Manager Duane, I usually find the most relevant, non-ranty post that I’ve done and send that to him.  Well, I picked the article about the first week of youth group this year.  It chronicled the events and my inner struggles that surrounded that evening.  Also, it talked about how I was going to refocus my group to be more of a service oriented youth group.  I thought, “Hey, this is good stuff.  I’ll submit this so the congregation knows what’s going on.”  Seems innocent enough, right?

Monday morning I come into my office later than usual.  Then Pastor Gordon comes in to my office.  Usually when Gordon comes in, it’s no big deal.  He usually just needs to blow off some steam, chat a little bit, or he needs help with his computer at home (I know, I didn’t see that one in the job description eitherJ).  So Gordon sits on my couch, we talk a little small talk.  Then he says something to the effect of, “Your letter in the Key has had a BIG response.”  Now realize, what I submitted was written about two months earlier, having quickly gone through and attaching it to an email.  I haven’t actually read it in almost two months.  So I’m trying my hardest to remember what he’s talking about, coming up blank.  Gordon continues to talk about this response to my Key entry and I’m slowly gaining insight.  Turns out that some parents, whose kids don’t come to youth group, read the article.  Whoops!  Forgot about them.  But I’m not too worried.  The parents were talking about how there are two teachers that hand out loads and loads of homework for Wednesday nights.  Ok, I can understand that, no problem. 

Now here’s the part that hit me.  I went back and read what I had written and my intent in writing it.  It was an encouraging post meant to discourage people from playing the numbers game (bigger is better) and encourage people to do great things with what they have.  It was a post about my reaction to what happened when I bought into the numbers game, and my subsequent revitalization and refocus to do big things with the youth that come.  What the post wasn’t, was a post complaining about youth not coming.  What it wasn’t, was a post complaining about parents not encouraging their kids to come.  What it wasn’t, was me lamenting about the yesteryears of youth ministry when everyone in town would come.  And because it wasn’t these things, I got kind of annoyed at the parents’ response.  The article wasn’t about them.  It wasn’t intended to be about them.  And it continues to not be about them.  So why did they think it was?

The answer: because Adam and Eve ate the fruit.  Yep that’s right, narcissism is almost as old as the world and mankind.  You may be asking, “How so?” Well, take a look at why Adam and Eve ate the fruit.  It wasn’t because it was better than everything else.  It wasn’t because the serpent tricked them.  It wasn’t even because Adam was a passive man and Eve wasn’t barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen.  It was because (Genesis 3:5-7) ““For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. “

You see the very first sin was that of selfishness.  Adam and Eve made it all about them.   They wanted to be like God and therefore ate the fruit.  Isn’t this what we continue to do?  Isn’t every fight you’ve ever had been because of some selfish act?   What about church splits?  What about Bible translations?  The Crusades?  Aren’t selfishness and narcissism the foundation of political parties?  Both sides think that they’re right and the other is wrong.  Both sides think that they have all the answers.  Both sides think that if they were in charge we’d somehow live in a utopian society.  On the far left you have people who want everything handed to them.  They have a certain sense of entitlement, due to their possibly less-than-desirable circumstances.  They think that because they weren’t given the same opportunities as the others, they deserve everything.  On the right you have exactly the same thing, but instead of wanting hand-outs, they want to hold on to everything.  They “worked hard” for what they got and it shouldn’t be taken from them.  It’s theirs and no one else has any right to it.

So now we’re left with the great divide that is tearing our country and our church apart.  It’s a great battle of will between those that have none and those that have some.  So what are we to do?  Do we vote against any tax increase?  Do we vote for every tax increase? 

To those playing the entitled victim, read Matthew 25:14-30.  To those playing the entitled hoarder, read Matthew 19:16-30.  I say neither side, left nor right, are correct.  God commands us to “Love your neighbor.”  How is focusing on ourselves anywhere close to loving our neighbor?  If we truly loved our neighbors as ourselves, we’d buy them the nice car, clothes, house, and food.  We would fight for their rights, and battle injustice against them.  We’d make sure that they’re taken care of no matter what.  If we truly loved our neighbor, instead of being people of entitlement, we’d be people of charity.  Maybe, just maybe, if we as a church were people of charity instead of making every little thing about us we wouldn’t be looked on as hypocrites.  Think of it, a world where people are helping people because they are simply…people…well that sounds like heaven.

My 2¢.


Betsy said...


That's all I can really say.

And good job finding the cent icon.


Jay Miklovic said...

Interesting to hear the response that your church had to that article, and even more interesting that the response came from parents whose kids did not attend.

I would have expected the 'big numbers' people to have a little fit about it or call it a cop out, but didn't expect the parents of the AWOL kids to be the issue. Sounds like you touched a nerve... good job.

Good luck sorting thru it all.

by the way isn't the foundation of the blogging world and all social networking tools narcissism? This belief that people really should hear what we have to say... I mean isn't this comment itself narcissistic? Just wondering.

Good job!

KaGe said...

Yeah, I was wondering when someone was going to talk about that. I was going to touch on it in the post, but it was already so long anyways that I didn't bother.

I do think all blogging, facebook, et al; have touches of narcissism in them. That's why there's comments to keep people on track. The real problem is when they can't take criticism.