Narcissism, Self-Idolatry and Maturity

Dali: The Metamorphosis of Narcissus

Permission is granted to reprint the following article as long as no changes are made and the byline, copyright information, and the resource box is included. Please let me know if you use this article by sending an email to

Narcissism, Self-Idolatry and Maturity

Copyright © August 30, 2014 Douglas W Jerving.
All Rights Reserved.

I just read an article of interest (to me; maybe that has implications!) on the subject of clinical narcissism and how to overcome it. ( See here ).

Just a day or so before reading this, I got to thinking about how often we all tend to read our Facebook pages with a preconceived idea about how everything others post relates to our selves. (I am guilty of this as much as anyone else.)

What I realized is that often we judge one anothers' posts based on what we believe is right about ourselves, and not about what may be right or good about the poster. I will use myself as the example here, because I mean no criticism of anyone else but myself in this post of mine.

I realize that oftentimes I am inadvertently judging you based on how much you agree with me. There is a real sense in which I am measuring you against myself. This is the equivalent to me setting myself up as God. This is the worst form of idolatry that I can think of: the tendency to interpret everyone I meet or know by the petty standards by which I may run my own life, and evaluate or discard them based on who I am or hope to be.

I suspect that real maturity (whether emotional or spiritual) in a human person is the ability to be one's self without the need to measure others by ourselves. In other words, to the extent that I am willing to accept you for who you are rather than try to make you over in my image of myself, to that extent I am mature. God made man in his own image according to the Book of Genesis. So we all, seeing ourselves as most important, spend a lot of time forcing our own image upon everyone else, rather than challenging ourselves, first, to better portray the image of God.

Emotional and spiritual maturity first entails the awareness that we are all just creatures of the dust, with a very limited understanding of others, or even of ourselves. Some day we will return to the dust, along with all our lofty imaginations and grand opinions about ourselves and others. Knowing this, we are called upon by life and history and philosophy, and even by God our creator, to "not be high-minded", but to "be of a contrite heart".

Second, maturity implies that we make positive, life-reinforcing determinations about all those "with whom we have to do." We no longer allow ourselves (nor even desire) to evaluate other individuals on the basis of our own individuality. Instead we see them as valuable individuals as well as we are, existing together in the grace and peace and love that is provided by God, and also, with them, all under his righteous judgment.

If I can get to this place in my relationships with others, near or far, family, friend or foe, then it does not matter any longer whether you or I am right or wrong, so much as it matters that I am no longer afraid of, or opposed to you because you are different from me. I may still be right and you still may be wrong, or it may be the obverse! Still, because I am no longer, in my mind, your judge or your god, I am now free to accept you as a person, like me, with great value before the true God who is the judge of us both.

This is all easier said than done, obviously. Tomorrow (let's face it! Probably still tonight!) I will still without even realizing it, compare you, or her, or him, or them to me as if my opinions were the very Opinion of Heaven. I have not arrived at that kind of vaunted maturity of angels (or dead saints), nor expect to for a while. Until that time, however, please forgive me if the latent narcissistic arse who believes that he is god occasionally usurps the throne. It will not be that way forever.


Doug Jerving is the publisher of the You may contact him at


Return to The New Edison Gazette main site.