My Narcissism Meets an Unwelcome Hero
photo by Corey Porter
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In “Iron Man”, Tony Stark embodied our cultural obsession for vanity, self absorption, power and wealth. A narcissist. However, after being assaulted he became more heroic. He endured suffering, empathized with others and took action to alleviate their suffering. After witnessing the depth of Stark’s transformation in “Iron Man”, I asked myself this thought provoking question: If a contented, self absorbed-cultural icon could change and become capable of such selfless acts of heroism, can I become less self absorbed and live a more selfless life in service to others?

(See Related Post: Selfless Narcissism)

My Narcissism

My preoccupation with self is my powerful nemesis preventing me from being others-centered. I am self-absorbed by default, trying to prove my worth in a culture built on self-importance, wealth, image and pleasure. With so much of my time and energy consumed with self-interest and advancement, how can I serve others?

I confess that I can’t kick my narcissism. Breaking my tight-fisted selfishness requires severe power to oust let alone replace with a greater concern for others. So what can save me from my narcissism?

An Unwelcome Hero

Wham! My ego suffers a direct hit from a heavy fight-changing power punch. I’m staggering. That didn’t feel so good. Who was that?

Introducing: a heavyweight from first century Palestine. His fight against pride and selfishness has leveled history’s most powerful egotists. And if my narcissism entertains any possibility of winning this battle, it may want to refer to his perfect fight record. He beat on heavy contenders like disease, demons and death. They all tapped out. My narcissism has finally met its match.

His words for the egotists of his day hit hard.  Leaders staggered after his public verbal assaults exposed their selfish abuse of power. They felt threatened by his powerful influence over the masses of people.

When these sinister legalists could no longer contend with him in the public ring, they secretly concocted false testimonies and accusations with the intention of killing him. He endured a mock trial, beatings, flogging and death by crucifixion.

But their evil intent was not able to lessen his resolve. He was able to endure his afflictions because he saw the greater danger to our narcissistic souls. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” God’s arsenal of wrath targets our narcissism. No soul can escape. Jesus fought our narcissism in a most counterintuitive way.  He humbled himself and died in our place, taking the wrath of God and man upon himself.

Death Blow to My Narcissism

Jesus rose from the dead and continues to beat on my narcissism today, repeatedly frustrating and thwarting my own self-exaltation. His spirit works through the Bible and people to confront my selfishness.  He permits suffering to enter my life to humble me. He challenges me  to not find my worth in recognition and wealth, or be consumed propping up my own image.  He empowers me to think about and serve others.

I am glad this unwelcome hero is powerful and willing to fight my narcissism, pay its penalty and replace it with power to serve others.

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2 thoughts on “My Narcissism Meets an Unwelcome Hero

  1. Eric David Nielsen

    Hey Corey, thanks for this post. Narcissism seems like one of those things that no one would self-diagnose on themselves. Thanks for your honesty. What do you think makes Jesus different than other “contenders” for a hero who can save us from the destructive effects and root of our selfishness? There’s many other religious or moral teachers who would prescribe lifestyles of service to others

    1. Corey PorterCorey Porter

      Thanks for the question Eric. Three things come to mind that distinguish Jesus from other “contenders” that seek to root out our selfishness.

      First, he was selfless himself. I can’t think of any leader that lived such a selfless life in service to others forgiving, healing, and serving. He became a servant to the point of death, giving up all his self rights. It was his DNA, being born of God by a virgin. He didn’t have the selfishness the rest of humanity has. Other leaders cannot deal objectively with our selfishness because they have their own selfishness. Jesus was completely selfless.

      Second, he is able to diagnose the depth of our selfishness more than any other leader has. His words are true and eternal. They are just as convicting to think about today. He brought so much conviction that people either broke down under it or tried to shut him up. Jesus called out our sin like nobody else ever has.

      Third, he is the only leader that rose from the death to eternal life. Thus he is the only one with eternal power to uproot self and fill us with concern for others. We may have the teaching of other leaders but they don’t have living power to influence our lives. So Jesus has unique power to uproot our selfishness in both his word and his eternal life.

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