A Healthy Ego
“Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.” –Thomas Merton
There’s a story in Greek mythology about a young man named Narcissus. He was a very handsome young man and he knew it. One day he saw his reflection in a stream, and he became enamored with the image of himself. He couldn’t pull himself away; he stared into the stream day and night. As the story goes, he became so trapped in his own ego he eventually turned into the Narcissus flower, rooted at the water’s edge.
As believers, we are God’s children. The world looks at us to see a reflection of God, and to see what God and his children are like. If we are caught up in ourselves—in narcissism—the watching world will see a marred image. It will see a body of Christ which is selfish, cares nothing for anyone else, and doesn’t believe its own teachings.
Ego is a fickle thing. Having a deficient ego can cause someone to wallow in self-doubt and lack confidence. On the other hand, someone with an inflated sense of self-worth can be seen as an egomaniac, self-aggrandizing and arrogant. It can be particularly challenging for Christians who have been successful to find balance.
The apostle Paul serves as an example. His ministry grew and spread rapidly, yet this was his perspective: “We do not want to boast about work already done in someone else’s territory. But, ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.’ For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends” (2 Corinthians 10:16-18).
A balanced ego won’t become overly inflated. This balance is rooted in seeing ourselves clothed in God’s grace, and practicing what pleases him. Here are some sound principles to consider:
- “The sacrifice you want is a broken spirit. A broken and repentant heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17).
- “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2).
- “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12).
- “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:10).
How can we best acknowledge, celebrate, and take satisfaction in what God is doing in, around, and through us, in a way which honors God and reflects him to others?
My prayer this week – Lord God, I admit my struggles with pride and ego. I desire to give you the praise and glory for the good things you’ve placed in my life! Will you help me to recognize and confess pride as it occurs in my heart, to your glory, my growth, and others’ blessing?