Am I a Narcissist?

It’s Narcissist Friday!

(Every so often I feel that it is important to repeat some of the foundational posts of this blog so that people will understand what we talk about. For the next few weeks, you will have an opportunity to read posts from several years ago. I am traveling, and this allows me to focus on family. Thanks for your understanding!)

Every time I teach on narcissism and describe the narcissist, people find that they know someone very much like the person I describe. And almost every time I teach this, some people end up feeling guilty that they dared to think of others in a negative way. Then comes the question: Aren’t we all narcissists in some way?

Now, I don’t want to disrespect that thinking. Of course all sin is connected and we all suffer from the same problems. Jesus taught us that we are all murderers, all adulterers, all capable of any sin and in desperate need of a Savior. There is a sense in which we are all narcissistic. The flesh, that system of living which we developed apart from Christ, is necessarily concerned with the promotion and protection of itself. So, yes, we are all narcissists in some way.

But there are a couple of important things that we should acknowledge. One is that most of us have learned to control our narcissism. What I mean is we learned early that other people do exist and they have their own concerns and lives. In order to make life work, we learned that there were boundaries we ought not to cross. Some things are private and we must allow others to have their privacy. We learned that cooperation is reciprocal. That means that we give and others give and we give again and they give again. Relationships work because we respect the fact that we need others and they are free not to help us. We learned that part of maturity was the realization that we don’t get everything we want in life and usually that isn’t someone else’s fault. We learned to actually be sorry for the things we did wrong and to empathize with the pain of others. We learned that we were not really the center of the world.

The narcissist did not learn these things. He learned to manipulate others and use them to get what he wants. She learned that others are wrong and cruel when they don’t acknowledge her as the center. Narcissists are usually quite intelligent and very skilled in social interactions. They know how to move people. But people are toys or tools or obstacles. Others are not real living beings in the same way the narcissist is.

Most of us are capable of love. We may not love as we ought, but we know that love means sacrifice for the good of someone else. We know that love means putting ourselves and our desires in second place. The narcissist doesn’t understand love. Love is saying what needs to be said and doing what needs to be done in order to get what the narcissist wants. On the surface, the narcissist will appear loving because he has learned to do that and is very good at what he has learned; but those who depend on the love of a narcissist will eventually realize that there was nothing there. It was all a lie.

Bottom line: the narcissist is broken. Broken in different ways from most of us. Broken in ways that have not adapted to Christian society. Broken in ways that hurt others.

There must be some kind of continuum, a “narcissism line,” that allows for increasing narcissistic behavior in individuals. Some are certainly less narcissistic and some are certainly more. But there is a point at which narcissistic behavior and thinking become abnormal. It may be difficult to determine that exact point in any particular person, but having that point often gives us the understanding we need. It enables us to look at a person and say, “Now I understand. That behavior isn’t normal. There is something wrong with her, not me.”

We don’t like to call people names (or at least we have been taught that it is wrong), but we can still look at behavior and attitude and acknowledge that they are wrong. Understanding narcissism will help us understand more about ourselves and the others with whom we live and work.

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It’s About Jesus!

It’s Monday Grace!

(Every so often I feel that it is important to repeat some of the foundational posts of this blog so that people will understand what we talk about. For the next few weeks, you will have an opportunity to read posts from several years ago. I am traveling, and this allows me to focus on family. Thanks for your understanding!)

Although it is interesting to talk about narcissism and grace and legalism and church and how they all connect, I would never want to become distracted from the main thing. I once heard a missionary say, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” That was very nice and catchy, but he believed that the main thing was missions. A preacher might say that the main thing is staying true to the word. An evangelist might say that the main thing is telling your neighbors, co-workers, and family about salvation. A denominational worker might suggest that the main thing is the work of the denomination. Every person’s little corner becomes the main corner. But none of them are the main thing.

You see, the main thing is Jesus! Not lessons about Him. Not theology to understand Him. Not the service you do for Him. Not even what He has done for us. He is Himself the main thing. He is the only true focus of the Christian faith.

In Jesus is everything. He is one with the Father and the Spirit in a way you and I will never understand. So much are they One, that we find difficulty any time we try to separate them. In Jesus we see the Father; and the Spirit serves only to lead us to and connect us with Jesus. Creation, redemption, glorification—all are in Him.

In Jesus is our peace, our righteousness, our strength, our wisdom, our goodness, our hope, our joy, our salvation. There is no salvation apart from Him, no matter how good you think you are. There is no hope apart from Him, no matter how religious you are. The problem with narcissism is that the person finds it very difficult to admit need and submit to the Savior. The problem with legalism is that the legalist admits his need and seeks to compensate for it in his own performance. The church has no message for the world apart from Jesus. Even the message of grace must be centered on Jesus in order to offer truth and hope.

I am absolutely, eternally, completely dependent on Jesus. He is my Life. The rest of my earthly life will be spent growing in the acceptance of His goodness, power, and love. It’s all about Him.


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What is a Narcissist?

It’s Narcissist Friday!

(Every so often I feel that it is important to repeat some of the foundational posts of this blog so that people will understand what we talk about. For the next few weeks, you will have an opportunity to read posts from several years ago. I am traveling, and this allows me to focus on family. Thanks for your understanding!)

Unfortunately, the meanings of words adapt to common usage. A narcissist used to be someone who fit a certain psychological pattern determined by a set of established guidelines. The American Psychiatric Association publishes a manual referred to as the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). The DSM-4 (edition 4) used nine criteria to determine whether a person suffered from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. (Reports say that DSM-5 will delete NPD.)

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

  1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
  2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  3. Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
  4. Requires excessive admiration
  5. Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
  6. Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
  7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
  8. Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
  9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

(From Wikipedia)

However, psychiatrists are notoriously stingy with assigning labels to people. What if someone has only four of these indications? What he or she has seven, but not quite as strongly as stated? What if three are overt but several more are covert? And what if the patient is particularly adept at covering or compensating for these indications?

Nina Brown has written several books in which she describes people who don’t necessarily fit the technical definition of a narcissist, but who still exhibit the general pattern and hurt themselves and others. She calls it “Destructive Narcissistic Pattern.” I recommend her books.

Using Brown’s information and the above APA guidelines, I have put together a list of narcissistic tendencies that we can use to begin to understand these people. Now, I don’t think it is wise or helpful to call someone a narcissist for several reasons. First, they may enjoy it too much. Second, if they disagree you will start an argument and you will lose (because you always lose). Third, they will begin to consume books on narcissism either to understand themselves or to prove you wrong or both. Fourth, others will disagree with you based on their perception of the great person to whom you are referring. No, just keep it to yourself. Understanding will help you, not so much them.

He or she might be narcissistic if:

  • He cannot bear to lose an argument. She will change the discussion, the subject, the rules. He will become angry, threatening, demeaning, etc. She simply cannot be wrong unless it is someone else’s fault.
  • She has no sense of your personal boundaries. What’s hers is hers and what’s yours is hers. He sits at your desk, uses your things, and may even touch you in unwelcome ways.
  • After working with him on a project, you feel used. She takes credit for what you do. The more you work with him, the more you realize that he doesn’t do as much as you thought.
  • He talks about himself all the time, yet you don’t really feel like you know him. She never asks how you are or about things that are important to you. It’s all about him.
  • He is full of big stories that make him look good, but his accomplishments in other places don’t match what you see at work. She has all kinds of great plans and her schedule is full, but you don’t often see her doing anything significant.
  • He is often angry, especially with others who don’t do what he thinks they should. She claims to be the victim of abuses of others, but you haven’t seen them being mean to her.
  • His words and his behavior are quite different. He ridicules and derides others, then does the same thing himself. She knows unkind information about everyone, but can’t seem to remember important or simple things about them.
  • He believes he is better than others, that no one measures up to his standards, particularly bosses and other leaders. Yet, he never expresses this to them. She thinks others envy her and judge her unfairly, yet she does the same thing.
  • She expects you to notice her hair or clothing, but never comments positively on yours unless she wants you to do something for her. He shows off his watch, his car, his wife, or something, and has no interest in yours. His kids are the greatest at everything and he has no idea whether or not you have kids.
  • He has no qualms about calling you at inconvenient times to ask you to do difficult or inappropriate things for him. He shows up to help you just as the job is finishing, then acts like he was helping all along. She is very good at volunteering for a job and then getting you or someone else to do it for her, perhaps begging off at the last minute with some lame excuse.

These are all narcissistic characteristics and this list can change. Several people probably came to your mind as you read them. As with other tests, the more of these things that are observed in a person, the more likelihood that person could be classified as a narcissist. Basically, the narcissist is concerned about himself and not about you. In fact, she may not even fully understand that you are a real person with a life and concerns of your own.

Again, remember that this classification is for you. Once you understand what is happening, what kind of person you are dealing with, you will be better able to handle the frustration you find rising up in you. Anything you learn about the narcissist is for you.

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Am I forgiven?

It’s Monday Grace!

When Bob won the lottery he instantly became a millionaire. Not sure what he should do next, Bob just kept working at his job, living in his house, and driving his old car. Not only did he not look like a millionaire, he didn’t feel like a millionaire. It was only when he began to spend some of that money that Bob began to realize how his life had changed.

In a similar way, it is common for people to continue to feel unforgiven after they come to Jesus. The fact of their forgiveness is not really the question; it’s the feeling of forgiveness.

When Bob drove his old car, the driver’s window still stuck, and Bob still had to struggle to get it to work. The house still had a lot of things to fix. His job still had its challenges. Life was about the same—until Bob realized that he didn’t need to fight that old car window, or fix the problems with the house, or even continue to work at his difficult job. Once Bob understood the meaning of the change in his life, he left those problems behind.

When we come to Jesus and learn that His forgiveness has covered all our sins, we may not understand the practical application of that truth in our lives. We continue to live with regret and defeat. We think of ourselves as defined by our failures and compromises. The stupid decisions we made, the foolish things we did, fill us with regret that doesn’t go away simply by the knowledge of our forgiveness.

It isn’t until we begin to walk in that forgiveness, incorporate the freedom and the victory into our lives, that we find the real meaning of being forgiven. When I can think of those old acts and struggles as part of the past, no longer part of who I am, then I become free.

When Bob began to understand how much money he had now and believed that no one was able to take it away, he got rid of his old car and bought a new one. It wasn’t long before Bob decided to buy a new house. In his job, he had new confidence and new enthusiasm. In fact, he did so well at work that he didn’t want to quit. But he knew he could if he wanted.

When you and I begin to understand that we are fully and freely forgiven by the love of God in Jesus, we will begin to put off the old ways. Worry about the future will fade. We will start to feel valued and loved, perhaps more than ever before. Each time we decide to walk in our forgiveness, to stop calling ourselves names and downgrading ourselves, we will find more victory and freedom. Even the old sins will start to go away.

You see, Bob always thought of himself as a lower class man. He never made much money and had to put up with a lot of struggles. His picture of himself didn’t change when he won the lottery. It changed when he began to live like a man who won the lottery.

You and I were taught to think of ourselves as broken and addicted sinners. We told ourselves that we were stupid and that sin had power over us. When Christ saved us and washed our sins away, that feeling didn’t really change. It only changes when we begin to live like people who have been forgiven.

Forgiven people are brand new beings. The Scripture tells us that the old has been washed away, the old man has died. You are no longer that person who did those things. You are not what you were. Now you are washed and sanctified because Jesus loved you enough to pay the price. Sin no longer has dominion over you. The evil one cannot make you do anything. You can walk in victory and freedom. You can know that you will be just as forgiven tomorrow as you are today. And even if you sin again, you can never be defined by that sin.

And, in that final day when you and I stand before the Lord, there will be no recital of our sins, because they are gone. There will be no listing of the things we have done, either before or after we were saved, because all has been washed in the blood of Jesus. There is no room for fear in the love of Jesus for you.

So, yes, you are forgiven. Fully and freely. That’s what the whole story is about. God so loved the world that He sent Jesus to the cross to wash away our sins and set us free forever. That’s the truth. Begin to live as though it is true, and you will begin to feel that it is true.


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Defining Anger

It’s Narcissist Friday!

What’s the difference between your anger and someone else’s anger? Well, it depends on who the other person is. For many people, the answer is that your anger is always selfish and unjustified and theirs is always righteous. Some have learned that they must endure the anger of others while never expressing their own. Others have good reasons to be angry. Your anger is almost always childish and unnecessary.

So, many of us grew up with, “You have no right to be angry!” At the same time, we heard that we should be patient and understanding when they are angry. In fact, we should be apologetic and submissive. For too many, that carried right into marriage and friendships.

Ask anyone to describe a narcissist and they will eventually get around to anger. Narcissists are angry people. The anger might not be loud and abusive, but it is there. We all know it. But, again, you are supposed to be gracious and deferent when they are angry. They are right.

Anger is one of those topics that can be hard to address because we all experience it in different ways and usually carry so much baggage from it. Our anger gets us into trouble. Other people hurt us with their anger. Anger is something to fear.

To put it simply, anger is a normal emotion. It usually comes out of fear, fear of loss. When we are treated with disrespect or violation, we try to protect ourselves by becoming louder and bigger. Our adrenaline surge when threatened will prompt either an aggressive response or a retreat. Fight or flight, as they say. If we are in a situation where we cannot respond with strength, we may well retreat and still feel the anger. It is normal to fantasize about some kind of retribution when we are threatened.

I believe anger is normal. We all experience it. In fact, it is such a common experience that it easily becomes the default emotion in times of stress. Since some people, like narcissists, live in almost constant stress, their normal state includes some expression of anger.

We can reason our way out of anger many times. When we realize that the threat is not real or not serious, we can step back from our anger. Sometimes we can even begin to understand the other person’s feelings and actions. It is possible, much of the time, to replace our anger with compassion and understanding.

But anger makes us feel strong. Narcissists want to feel strong. They normally feel threatened and weak. To overcome those unwelcome feelings, they try to compensate with their anger. And, frankly, it often works. Because narcissists don’t see others as real and valuable, they tend to be ruthless with their anger. They say things and do things that hurt deeply. Their purpose is to counter the threat, even if it doesn’t really exist.

I think it is fair to say that all of us are capable of hurting others with our anger. In fact, we could add that we often do hurt others, even if we are not narcissists. But the difference is that normal people empathize enough with others to feel something of their pain. When they are hurt by our anger, we regret our words and actions.

The narcissist never regrets his anger. Anger is his/her tool to keep others away or in line. Anger is what makes the narcissist stronger than others. Anger allows the narcissist to use and abuse and manipulate without regard to the pain they cause. Narcissists lack empathy; in fact, they don’t even see other people as persons.

It is not wrong to feel anger. It is normal. It is not wrong to find strength through anger to protect yourself. Sometimes getting angry pushes us into doing what we need to do. But it is wrong to use anger as a tool to hurt others.

Be quick and sincere with your apologies when your anger has been abusive. Let the other person know that the fault is yours and you regret hurting them. Remember the real purpose of anger in your life and keep it in control.

I know that many people say all anger is sin. That simply is not true, nor is it what the Bible teaches. To keep it very simple, the Bible makes a powerful statement.

Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Psalm 4:4 (NKJV)

If you are angry, be careful not to sin against God or others. Think things through in the light of the love of God and the value of your relationship with others. Remember who you are in Christ. Anger is not sin, but sin is not far away. Be careful.


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Am I valued?

It’s Monday Grace!

You work all day and no one seems to notice. You do your best and no one cares. The people at work and at home take you for granted. They only comment when they think you failed. And you begin to wonder if you are valued at all.

Oh, you know they would miss you. You just wish you could hear something of that now. But the days roll on and on without encouragement or support. It really makes you wonder.

When Jesus spoke of the kingdom of Heaven in Matthew 13, He used some interesting illustrations. In fact, they are a little confusing to many scholars. He says the kingdom is “like a treasure hidden in a field,” and “like a merchant” who finds a pearl of great value, and “like a dragnet that was cast into the sea” and brought back full of many things, and “like a householder” who brings “things old an new out of his treasure.” These four things are quite different, and it can be hard to find the thread that pulls them all together.

But if you think about Who is speaking, it helps. Jesus isn’t just telling the disciples what the kingdom is like, He is telling them what it means to Him. And every one of these illustrations speaks of great value.

Listen: you are the treasure! You are the pearl! You are what Jesus seeks as He casts His net of love! You are the old and new brought out of His treasure stores. To Jesus, the kingdom of God is you! He came out of Heaven to find you. He went to the cross to redeem you. He paid the price for your sin. He did all the work, suffered all the pain, paid all the price—because He values you.

The act of calling you was an act of love. The act of saving you was an act of love. The act of walking with you through the beauty and ugliness of life is an act of love.

In this world, we find it hard to remember what has real value. We focus so hard on our own desires and pleasures that we don’t see others. But Jesus sees us, each of us. He knows you by name and by heart.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it. Matthew 13:45-46 (NKJV)

Never forget: you are the pearl for which Jesus gave all He had. You are valued!


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Defining Love

It’s Narcissist Friday!

Ok, I don’t really expect to define “the world’s deepest subject” in a short blog post. Nor do I feel qualified even to try. Love makes human life, human community, possible. Love separates us from the beasts.

The difficulty of defining love, however, has opened the hearts of so many people to manipulation and abuse. For many reasons, they have learned false definitions. Narcissists and other abusers use the weaknesses of these definitions. Parents, media, friends, and others carry these definitions to the minds of young people. Expectations are based on what was learned.

So, let me share what I think is the center point, the heart of love.

Love gives.

When you carefully examine the false definitions of love, you will see that they all focus on what a person gets. Out of these definitions come the words, “If you really loved me, you would do this.” Love is measured by performance. The narcissist takes.

What does the narcissist take? Everything! You name it. The things that are important in life. Time, energy, identity, sex, money, power, and so on. And those who love are supposed to give. And they are supposed to think that the narcissist loves them.

But love gives.

At the end of life, the old man or woman who shared a loving marriage says, “Oh, I received far more than I ever gave.”

Yes, when we are loved, we receive. We never take, but we do receive. And we receive the things we need. That’s why we look for love. We need it. It doesn’t have to come from a marriage, of course. Parents love. Friends love. But we need love. And love gives.

So, the narcissist is often generous at the beginning of the relationship. He knows that he has to give in order to win the heart. He gives attention, comfort, support, and gifts. The person feels important and valuable. But it doesn’t take long for things to change. Those who are not deceived will understand the meaning of the words, “After all I’ve done for you.” Narcissistic love does not give, it invests. Everything that comes has a price, an expectation.

If I could give one word of advice for young people entering into relationships, I would say to go slowly. Narcissism is revealed when the narcissist begins to wonder if the investment will pay off. The flowers, the compliments, the listening ear—they need to produce a benefit for the narcissist or he/she will become frustrated. When the demands begin, the relationship should end. The person who says, “I need you,” is not expressing love.

Some people find love, real love, to be a distant thing, an idea. Perhaps it is something others experience, they think. Everybody uses in a narcissistic culture. Everybody demands. Perhaps none of us loves the way we should.

But God “so loved the world that He gave.” You are loved. You have been loved from the beginning and, no matter what you have done, are still loved today.

Someone will read this and remember Scripture that says, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” So, they say, even God expects something from us. Well, I have never felt that was an accurate translation of that verse, but if it is, what does it really say? The commandments of God are not for the purpose of God taking something from us. His desire is for our good. He wants to protect us from harm, help us live together in peace, and keep us even from harming ourselves. His commandments are for our good.

The greatest desire of a love that gives is for the other to receive. God wants us to receive His love. When He asks us to keep His commandments, He asks us to receive His loving guidance and care. Take advantage of His wisdom. He knows us and this life better than we do.

Can you judge love? Well, we have to, don’t we? We have to know if it is real. The question is whether it gives. Are the actions self-serving, filled with expectations and obligations? That’s not love.

Read 1 Corinthians 13 again. Look at how God defines love. Love gives.

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Am I accepted?

It’s Monday Grace!

There was a time for most of us when it meant a great deal to be accepted into a group. When the group accepted us, we had value. That was important.

And it is still important. I doubt that we ever really grow out of the need to be accepted. We know ourselves through the eyes of others. They are the mirror that helps us understand who we are. To be accepted is to be acceptable, of worth. The old saying is that everyone needs to be somebody to somebody.

But this competitive and consuming world seems to do its best to put us down. We are used for what others can get and made to feel of little value. We are constantly told and shown that others don’t think like us and don’t really need us.

To feel unaccepted is to feel alone and worthless.

Now, I could go into a long exposition of Scripture to show how God has made us acceptable. He has reached into our broken lives to pull us to Himself and show us that we are accepted by Him. But I can do something even better. I can give you a new word for yourself.

You are more than accepted—you are chosen!

Look through the Bible sometime to see how often it speaks of God choosing His people. Those who come to Jesus for salvation are chosen. God wanted us. God did whatever it would take to save us.

I know that some people will almost instantly take this into the theological discussion and bring up things like predestination and election and blah-blah-blah. That misses the point. It really does. Look at the texts. When God speaks of choosing us, what is He saying? He is saying that He values us, He wants us. It isn’t that He doesn’t want others. Don’t let the beauty of the truth be lost in the mess of the debate. That’s a distraction. He wants you. He chose you.

Being chosen is far beyond being accepted. When we were young, and through much of our lives, we have felt that we were accepted almost begrudgingly, like the others had to take us in. Even being accepted didn’t settle the devaluing we felt in our hearts because we still thought we didn’t measure up. But being chosen, being wanted, that’s where the joy is found.

Jesus went to the cross to save you because He chose you. He suffered because He wanted you. You have great value in His heart.

Listen: it is good and right to live in the joy of being chosen by the Almighty God. Lift up your head and smile! It is not a matter of pride, but of truth. He loves you!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:3-6 (NKJV)


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Defining Authority

It’s Narcissist Friday!

Who’s in charge?

People want to know who is in charge. Kids want to know when Mom and Dad go out. Employees want to know when the boss is gone. Knowing who’s in charge gives structure to our lives and allows us to predict or adapt to the change of situation.

Of course, the narcissist thinks the answer should always be him. He should be in charge.

Now, before someone objects too strongly, I understand that covert narcissists don’t want others to think they are in charge. They want to look like they are supportive and encouraging—then they can manipulate the one who thinks he or she is in charge. But the overt narcissist isn’t so crafty.

Over the past two weeks, I have suggested better ways to define or understand trust and control. I said that trust is always connected to a person, rather than a position. Control over others, I think, may be the goal for the narcissist but should not be a goal for anyone. That brings me to this idea of authority: Who’s in charge?

To understand the narcissist, it is important to remember that the narcissist expects to be trusted. He expects that his superiority will be evident and his charm will win your trust. Then he will use that trust to control you and move you to do what he wants. (Or she, of course!) But the narcissist thinks that positions of authority demand both trust and obedience.

So, it is very important to the narcissist that he is placed in a position of authority if one is available. If he is not, he will grumble and complain about whoever is in charge. If there is no position available, he will either campaign for one to be made or create one himself by beginning to tell others what to do. It won’t take long (unless the real authority slaps him down) for the rest of the group to understand that they should do what he says.

Authority, for the narcissist, is still about getting others to do what he wants. It is still about control. It diminishes the personhood of anyone who works with or lives with him. The point of authority is to make the narcissist look good, even more superior.

Let me be blunt: every position of authority is an opportunity for a narcissist to control others. That’s why narcissists are drawn to those positions. The one who gets to be “up front” looks like the one “in charge.” The one who gives the orders. The one who makes the decisions. The one who leads.

What the narcissist does not understand is that all authority is derivative. That means it is given by someone higher. Every position of authority is under another. The Scriptures teach that God delegates authority, sometimes through position and sometimes through relationship. In other words, any church or government authority based on position has that authority only because God has made it so. And with that authority comes responsibility. With it should also come humility.

Once again, the narcissist finds himself dissatisfied and unfulfilled. Every time he reaches a level of authority, he finds that someone or something (an organization or a law, for example) is above him. Even the highest level national dictators know that the world community has a responsibility of oversight. They may chafe or even rebel against that oversight, but they know it and fear it.

The narcissist cannot be content until he has supreme authority, until there is no one above him. Wives and children, employees and church members, all know this to be true. He is still angry. He still feels the pressure of authority above him.

But how high does the narcissist go to get this supreme authority? This one fact causes many people to suspect that no narcissist could ever be content in submission to God. If God can still judge the narcissist, then the narcissist is not in charge. If God can change the system, then the narcissist is still under mastery. And the narcissist fears the One who is in charge.

So, pray! If you struggle against the manipulations of a narcissist, pray to the One who is still higher. He does hear you, and He does care. Trust His decisions and rest in the peace of knowing that He is greater than the one who torments you. In fact, take some comfort in knowing that there is One to whom the narcissist must answer.


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Am I loved?

It’s Monday Grace!

Do you feel loved? Without feeling it, how would you know that you are loved? Convincing someone that they are loved is not an easy task. How would you do it?

Well, you could do nice things for them, make sacrifices. Sadly, abusers often manipulate victims by acts of kindness. We are so used to people being nice so they can get something from us that we have learned to distrust kindness.

You could tell them often of your love. But, of course, people lie. Trust me, they say. I love you, they say. But we have learned not to trust words.

That doesn’t leave many options, does it? Even God meets walls in the hearts of those to whom He sends His love. How does God get the message of His love into your heart? How can He convince you that He loves you?

Over the years, I have met many people who have learned such a twisted perspective on the Bible that they simply stop reading it. I understand. There are preachers who can use almost any text to tell us of our inadequacies and sins. Because they are convinced God is angry and vengeful, they see that everywhere in Scripture. So, I have told these folks not to worry about reading the Bible. Just talk with Jesus and open your heart to Him.

Of course, some people think that is a terrible suggestion. We need the Bible, they say. We are supposed to read it and apply it, they say. I know that. I also know that those who have been beaten with the Scriptures will find it hard to believe any message of love they read there. So, they should stop reading—for a while. I believe God has wonderful words of encouragement and love for each of us in the Bible. Eventually, the Spirit will lead God’s people back to His Word.

I am willing to allow the Spirit to do that in His time and way. So, I suggest that they begin again, when the time is right, with the book of John. And I suggest they look for only one thing: look to see how loving Jesus is. Look at His love for the woman at the well, the woman taken in adultery, or his friend Lazarus. See His compassion as He heals and welcomes. In other words, read the stories.

The stories of the Bible are testimonies to the love of God for His people. From Adam to Moses to David to Elijah, the Old Testament is full of stories that shine light on the love of God. And, of course, the New Testament tells about Jesus, the ultimate expression of the love of God for us. “While we were yet sinners,” the verse begins and tells us about how much God loves us.

Does God love you? Oh my yes! When you wandered apart from Him, He loved you and called you to Himself. He loves you enough to let you have your own will and way. Then He walks with you in forgiveness and restoration. Pure and holy love. Love without manipulation.

Are you loved today? Yes, you are! The great God of Heaven, the King of kings and Lord of lords knows you and loves you. He knows the things you have done and the things you would do if you could. He knows the thoughts of your mind and the longings of your heart. He knows your fears, your worries, and your desires. And He never pushes you away.

Learn of Jesus. See the love He showed in the stories you read. See how that same love flowed from the Father’s heart from the beginning. Then know that that same God and Savior loves you. It’s true!


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