You have got to be kidding me! Not having satellite programming, combined with a lack of watching evening television, caused me to be surprised again by a show I hadn’t heard of called, “The Voice.” I quickly thought, “how many more of these American Idol type shows will they come up with?” It took me about 5 seconds to discern the familiar storyline, “I have a gift/talent, I am unknown, I need to be discovered so my talents are shared with the world, and I will become rich and famous.” American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, X factor, and America’s Got Talent all follow this similar genre, and speak of something very pronounced in our culture.
George Harrison wrote and recorded a song in the late 60s called “I Me Mine” that would be a great opening for most of these shows because it describes what they are about, “All I can hear: I-me-mine, I-me-mine…Everyone’s saying it flowing more freely than wine I-I, me-me, mine.” Another way to define it is Narcissism. Narcissus is a mythological figure who fell in obsessive love with his own reflection. Narcissism didn’t start with that figure in Greek Mythology, it started way before that with Lucifer. He was the most gifted/talented of all the angels, and his beauty caused Him to advance himself at the expense of God’s calling for him.
The psychological definition of Narcissism is an egotistical preoccupation with self, personal preferences, aspirations, needs, success, and how he/she is perceived by others. Research psychologist Jean Twenge and W. Keith Campbell published a book a couple of years ago called “The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement.” In the book they say that the narcissistic personality traits have become so pervasive in American culture that they threaten to transform us into a nation of egomaniacs. In their book they cite research from 2006 in which 51% of 18- to 25-year olds said that “becoming famous” was an important goal of their generation – nearly five times as many as named “becoming more spiritual” as an important goal. I am sure that percentages are higher now.
As Christians, our obvious concern is that we avoid getting swept up in the Narcissistic spirit (the Bible calls it our flesh). We not only want to avoid it, but also live in a way that works to deliver others from their narcissistic chains.
Discerning gifts and callings in their Biblical context
We need to consider the relationship between gifts and calling to avoid the clutches of narcissism. Every saint has been given gifts/talents, and they are to be used to fulfill their calling. We should never pursue our giftedness for selfish ends. If we do, the very gift that God has given us will become an idol that we narcissistically seek to advance.
Giftedness does not stand alone in helping us discern our callings. The first place Christians need to look to for that is the Bible. There are only five places in the New Testament that describe our gifts connected to His calling. In those passages we see that gifts/talents are not given to make us famous but to build up what Christ considers important, His body, the church. The Bible clearly declares that God is now moving to fill the earth with His presence through Christ’s body, the church.
Eph 1:22-23 MSG He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. (23) The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence. This calling will culminate with the only two things that the Bible shows us will go on eternally in God, the Godhead and the church.
As we look at the five places in the New Testament that speak about gifts/talents and their use in our calling, we clearly see that the context is building up His body so He is revealed in the earth. This is in sad contrast to many Christians who use their gifts for personal advancement while neglecting involvement in the church, or at best giving the bare minimum.
1Pe 4:7-11 (10) As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another (the church) as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
1Co 12:11-12 But one and the same Spirit works all these thing (gifts and ministries (vs 1-3), distributing to each one individually just as He wills. (12) For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.
1Co 14:1-40 Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy….(4) One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church….(12) So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church.
Eph 4:1-16…walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called… (8)…AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.”…(11) And He gave some as…(12) for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ… (16) from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
Rom 12:1-21…(3) For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think… (4) For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, (5) so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (6) Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly:…(10) Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another… (13) contributing to the needs of the saints….(16) Be of the same mind toward one another;
While our gifts/talents may vary in expressions, the central Biblical calling they need to stay rooted in is building up His eternal bride, the church, in order to display Christ in the earth right now. Some may wonder about using our gifts/talents to reach the lost or impact the marketplace. That is a given. These things should be as spiritually natural as breathing. But if we are applying our gifts/talents in those areas to the exclusion of building His church, it isn’t very Biblical.
Check out this video about Facebook friends and Narcissism.
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