You can’t miss pride (I’m referring to the unhealthy kind). It’s obnoxious, outrageous and “the only disease that makes everyone sick except the one who has it.” It’s an easy thing to spot.
Or is it?
There’s another type of pride that is equally destructive. It is less obvious and subtle. It’s the quiet self-absorption that unfortunately has plenty of practitioners. And it’s hard not to see our culture trending in this direction.
In the 1950’s, some teens were given the Minnesota Multiphasic Personal Inventory. One of the statements on the inventory was “I am an important person.” Twelve percent agreed. Fast forward to the late 1980’s and the response among the similar group had soared to 80%. Jean Twenge is a professor of psychology at San Diego State who has made a career of detailing the rising narcissism of our culture. David Brooks spoke of the “the Big Me” in his bestselling book, The Road to Character. In 2014, Google told us that 93 million selfies are taken each day (and that’s just on Android devices so it doesn’t count I Phones). For the 18-24 demographic, it is estimated the 1 out of every 3 pictures is a selfie.
Leah Darrow was a rising model who appeared on America’s Next Top Model in 2004. A year later she was in the middle of a photo shoot in New York when she walked out because “I was made for more than this.” She now travels the country talking about a different kind of beauty. Her words are worth listening to.
“There are 93 million selfies a day, and it’s not satisfying. We keep going back and doing it over. We are so inward-focused, we haven’t allowed ourselves to go out and do something beautiful for God. It doesn’t matter who is taking the pictures. We’re obsessed with ourselves. You forget your neighbor, you forget God’s commandment to help others.”
“Social media is not the enemy. Beauty is not the enemy. How we use it or distort it is the problem. We have this huge gaping wound of not feeling loved. We’re going to all of the wrong places for love. We keep going to the same places that hurt us, that destroy us.”
I think she’s on to something. Self-absorption isn’t the answer—it’s the problem.
The disciples of Jesus came to Him wanting to know who was greatest in the kingdom of heaven. He called a child to them and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3-4). The “lowly position” of the child Jesus referred to was essentially that of no status. That’s exactly what Christ took on when He came to this earth (“He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant” – Philippians 2:6-7).
The way we find life is by losing it. We don’t think of ourselves less, we stop thinking about ourselves completely in the way that we used to. We stop worrying about likes, comments and followers because we’re no longer trying to be “someone”–we’re content and secure with who we are in Christ. We move from self-absorption to being absorbed with God and others.
If it sounds radical, that’s because it is. But it is the way of Christ and it leads to love, liberation and life!