Our Narcissistic Generation

Everyone lives for something – a philosophy that keeps them going, gets them through the week’s problems, acts as their final source of authority on the meaning of life, morals and other matters. This philosophy or ideology might come from anything or take different forms. There are many different ‘isms’. It might be a person close to you, a political figure, a historical figure, a holy book, or a mish-mash of different things (as is very prevalent today). For many of us, we wouldn’t even see it as a ‘philosophy’.

Narcissistic individualism is one such ism, founded upon sin. Narcissism is incredibly dangerous, and is strongly linked to depression and suicide. But even Christians can be grossly guilty of it, perhaps without even being aware of it. I hope to briefly consider narcissism, and then consider how we can get out of these mindsets, which can seriously stunt our spiritual growth.

This post is not intended to be too philosophical or overly morbid, so don’t be worried!


Why Narcissism is so nasty

Narcissus, as the legend goes, was a handsome young Greek man. One day he saw his own reflection in a rock pool and so fell in love with it that he didn’t move. Eventually he died.

Hence, we have ‘Narcissism’ – the worship of oneself, or excessive interest and admiration of one’s personal appearance. I believe we can all be guilty of this, to varying degrees, and without wishing to be judgmental (although I speak to myself as well!), I will explain how.

Narcissism is perhaps best exemplified with social media. Social media, for many people, is all about promoting yourself.

How many Facebook friends do I have? How many likes does my Instagram photo get? Why hasn’t so-and-so liked my post? Take the test: how young do you look? How popular are you?

Our obsessive egotistical narcissistic outlook is most evident with pictures. Our profile pictures are always the most flattering, and often risqué. Look at the intense obsession we have with taking selfies of ourselves. Our phones have whole memory cards jam-packed full of selfies. How many do we have to take to get it right? How many do we delete, because they (quite frankly) were a bit of shock (do I really look that bad!)? Only the best will ever make it onto our Instagram.

Driving license photo v. FB profile pic
This hopefully illustrates the point.

When we go out, the highlight is often when we’re taking the photos that will go up on our social media profiles, rather than the fact that we are spending quality time with our friends or family.

Look at Snapchat, pictures visible for 10 seconds only, inviting the recent craze of posting nude selfies to select individuals. Hasn’t the world gone to pot!

Now you may just say “it’s harmless fun using cool or funny filters, I would never fall into ‘nude-selfies’, ‘sexting’ or anything like that!” But is it? You see, I think we deceive ourselves. We worry about our self-appearance. All good and soundly biblical, but we worry too much! We spend too much of our time worrying about it, or attempting to correct it.

“If only my nose wasn’t quite so wonky, I’d be a happy man!”

“Gosh, I look so ugly in that group photo.”

Needless to say, this mindset isn’t healthy for the Christian – or anyone for that matter. It can never make us happy. If it doesn’t matter to God, it shouldn’t matter to us.

“Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7.

And this is the great part. God doesn’t care about what we look like, whether we’re black, white, brown or blue. He doesn’t mind if we’re grey-haired, balding, too thin, too fat, ugly and covered in warts. He doesn’t mind even if we look like a turnip come out backwards in the wash with a face like a mouldy gingerbread biscuit. Why doesn’t he?

  1. Because he created you just the way you are, you are a work of God, a marvel.
  2. Because he doesn’t care what you look like, but he does care about what your heart looks like.

Society judges us on our looks. We can’t help that. God judges us on our heart. That doesn’t mean we’re better than society. It just means that we shouldn’t worry about what society thinks of us, we should worry what God thinks of us. Society can do what it wants, we will stand for Christ!

There is also a deeper, underlying problem. Selfies are just the tip of the iceberg. This underlying problem is – Self. Narcissism is by no means a new concept. It’s a battle that people have faced for a thousand years.

At its heart, narcissism is self-centred – what’s in it for me? How can this make me look good?

We don’t care for others. We only seek admiration from others, believing ourselves to be superior. We always want to constantly project a positive image of ourselves and desperately want to attract more followers.

But this is generally false; it is an elaborate outer façade built up to hide an inner loneliness and discontentedness. Your social media profile isn’t you. It never can be. It’s the me I want to be; hence, why we always present the positive image. I want to be happy, have fun, be seen to have lots of friends, go to lots of parties. I don’t want to be seen as an ugly loner with no friends, no people liking my posts.

It is fabulously superficial.

It is so sad. Yet I believe any social media user can be guilty of thinking in such a manner. But we can only find true contentment in the Lord (Philippians 4:11-13).

Young people, finding their way in the world are especially vulnerable. Peer pressure is intense. I believe we are by miles the most narcissistic generation in history. The problem is it’s so normal and so deeply-rooted in our everyday lives. Everyone uses social media. At the current average rate (1.72 hours per day), if we live to be seventy, we will have spent around five years on social networks. Yes, five years…

What else could we do in that time?


So what can we do about it?

Now with this in mind we might want to take dramatic action, selfies are wrong! Social media is evil! No more!

But it’s essential to note there’s nothing inherently wrong with social media or selfies. Social media is invaluable for keeping in touch; social networks can be great tools for communication, encouragement, evangelism even. Photographs are great to document important events in our lives. These things are useful. It’s our use of these tools which can be wrong. We must be immensely careful how we use them. What’s the first thing you reach for in the morning, your Bible or your phone? Watch yourself!

For some of us, perhaps it is right to come off social media completely and that’s something we should prayerfully consider.
Having a break from social media is a great idea, even if it’s just for a day or two. You could have a weekly day off social media; Sunday would be a good day to have social-media-free! Miss it too much? It’s likely you’re relying on it too much.

Our primary purpose in life is to glorify God. Take a step back, are we doing that?

‘Everyone does it’ is not a valid excuse. The desire to conform is intense. Don’t be afraid of being different.

Don’t check your social media feed merely for the sake of it, browsing without purpose. It’s a bit like me Christmas shopping, having no idea of what to buy and ending up spending hours wandering around aimlessly, uninspired, without buying anything at all; a total waste of time.

Don’t spend countless hours wasting your life away (I suspect many of us spend a considerable deal more than 1.72 hours on social media per day).

The Apostle Paul puts it perfectly in his letter to the Romans:

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”

With all this, I’m sure we won’t stop worrying about what others think. We face a massive battle. It’s not easy, there’s no quick fix; but such is the Christian life. We will fail, we will stumble; but thank the Lord we have a loving Heavenly Father and an atoning sacrifice for our sins!

Let us live true to our calling in life, to glorify the Lord before God and men.

McDonald’s, Muscles and Math Geeks

Hi everyone. I’m Jake and I’m a 20-year-old ‘Jesus freak’ that likes an eclectic mix of music and any sports that involve a ball (except cricket…someone explain it to me?). I’m delighted to have been asked to contribute to this stream of blog posts which from what I have read so far have been pretty good and very encouraging.

So where am I from? Well I was born just north of Birmingham, England but have lived in Scotland for the past 8 and a bit years. I’m currently working as a church development worker for Thurso and North Coast Free Church in the Highlands of Scotland and on the side I am employed at Tesco…two jobs where I get paid to speak to people so I love it.

Amongst the other jobs I have worked in the past I have been a member of the Golden Arches Restaurant (McDonald’s) crew for a wee while and I try to keep fit and work my muscles and I don’t like Mathematics very much. A little random but it’s these three things I want to use as a springboard for my topic today; McDonald’s, Muscles and Math Geeks.


So what do McDonald’s, muscles and a math geek have in common?

Sounds a wee bit like the start of a joke but this question, or rather the answer to this question, poses an interesting topic for people. Growing is an important part of life and takes place all around us, inside us and is constantly happening. It’s taught in every classroom round the world to children of all ages.

Businesses like McDonald’s view growth as very important in order to make decent profits. Muscles need to be trained and to grow so that they don’t waste away and become gelatinous masses. Math geeks require a lot of studying crazy mathematical formulae and other numerical nonsenses so that they can grow in their knowledge. It doesn’t matter who you are, growth is important; right down from a baby taking their first steps or getting first teeth right up to the athlete training for a marathon or a student studying for a biology test.

Christians, you know, the crazy people that go to church and pray and stuff, well they, just like every other human being, grow. For Christians the aspect of spiritual growth is as equally important as any other type of growth. In the Bible, and particularly in Paul’s letters, growth takes the driving seat as being one of the most important factors within Christian life; in short, we, as Christians, MUST grow.

Here are a few verses from the Bible that show us that we need to grow as Christians just in case you don’t believe me:

“Like new-born babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation…” 1 Peter 2:2

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Ephesians 4:15

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18


So to grow as a Christian is kind of a big deal then, huh? Well the Apostle Paul seems to think so and I’d bet my bottom dollar that taking what he has to say is true is a good idea. That challenge to grow can seem pretty weighty but I think we need to understand what is required of us. It’s not good to beat ourselves up when we don’t feel like we’re growing as fast as we should be, first off. When a baby takes their first steps and they fall over the parents don’t start yelling and telling the baby off for being so stupid in falling over. Rather, the parents and any onlookers applaud and smile hysterically at this baby’s few steps. Growth looks different for everyone and people will grow at different rates; we’ve just got to make sure it’s happening.

If we are to be growing, we need to ask ourselves a few questions in order to get an idea of where we’re at and where we need to be. Here is a wee evaluation that I find helpful to see if we are growing spiritually:

  • Self-Evaluation
  • 1) Complacency – Are we content to stay as we are?
  • 2) Comfort – Are we more concerned with our Christian habits rather than moving into a place that is uncomfortable in order to grow?
  • 3) Christ – Do we desire more of Jesus?

It’s helpful for us to ask ourselves these questions. Again, if you’re answers to these questions are along the lines of 1) yeah I’m pretty content to stay where I am, 2) I quite like being comfortable in my spirituality and 3) Jesus is just okay, then you definitely need to grow. You could be on the flip side though and be like 1) I’m so restless with myself and I just want to grow more 2) I’m happy to be moved outside my comfort zone and I make it a priority to undertake things which challenge me and 3) I desire more of Christ every day; good, but you have still got to work at it.

So how do we go after spiritual growth? Like where does the rubber hit the road and really start moving somewhere? How do we practically, realistically and spiritually grow?

I want to show you what I believe the Bible says in regards to how we can grow spiritually.

I like numbers so here is a breakdown of 5 points that we can use to grow:

1) It’s not going to happen overnight.

If we get discouraged from not growing as fast as we want to or we feel like we’re not growing at all, we need to look back to our source; God is the one who helps us grow. Spiritual growth is a long, drawn out process that lasts a life time. Christians are Christians for their whole lives and they grow over their whole life. Here is a quote by one of my favourite devotional writers, J C Ryle:

“Gradual growth in grace, growth in knowledge, growth in faith, growth in love, growth in holiness, growth in humility, growth in spiritual-mindedness – all this I see clearly taught and urged in Scripture, and clearly exemplified in the lives of many of God’s saints. But sudden, instantaneous leaps from conversion to consecration I fail to see in the Bible.” – J C Ryle

In short, our starting point is God and he uses our lives to grow us.

2) We need to be open about our state spiritually.

Farmers don’t pretend that everything is going great if it’s not. Farmers are usually the first people to say if a season of weather has been bad or if the crops haven’t done well. We need to be honest about the seasons of life that we’re going through too.
Share with a Christian brother or sister about your struggles; we haven’t been saved to be isolated, God saves us into a family. We also need to expect to have times when we feel flat. We’re not always going to be happy clappy everything is dandy.

True Christian joy is knowing that Jesus is there with you through it all.

3) We need to prioritise.

Spiritual growth is important and I think we’ve settled on that.

As it says in 1 Peter 2:2 “Grow up in your salvation” we need to be growing up, we need to make growing as a Christian a priority. We need to make growing up important and the means by which we do that need to take fundamental positions in our lives. So whether that’s meeting for prayer with Christians friends, going to church, reading the Bible, listening to sermons online, whatever it is, prioritise it!

4) We need to lower our own importance.

“The right manner of growth is to grow less in one’s own eyes.” Thomas Watson

Thomas Watson is one of my favourite writers from the Puritan era. What he is saying here is that in order for us to grow spiritually we need to grow less in our own importance.

As Christians that are wanting to grow we need to look at ourselves in the right way. It’s not about devaluing ourselves or slating ourselves or thinking of ourselves as muck but rather it’s looking at ourselves in the way God sees us. That, yes we are horrid and dirty and we make mistakes BUT with Jesus, God sees perfection.

The right way to see ourselves is to view ourselves as second.
In every situation, I am second. Whatever comes our way, whether it be a sibling wanting the choice on the TV or music in the car, whether it’s helping parents with shopping or laundry, whether it’s letting someone else have the last cake or choosing to forgive someone even if they didn’t say sorry, think ‘I am second’.

Only when we put Christ first and what He has shown us to do, can we grow spiritually.

5) We need JESUS.

Needless to say this is the most important part. Without Jesus we don’t grow, without Him we have no reason to grow. Here is a quote from a great theologian, Mr Tozer:

“The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire. Complacency is a deadly enemy of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people.” A W Tozer

We need to desire Jesus. If we are going to grow we have to be seeking after Jesus with everything we’ve got. Just like a homing missile is attracted towards a metal aircraft, we need to be ardently, zealously pursuing Christ. We need Him to take away our complacency, our stiffness, our lack of growth.


With Jesus we will go through difficult times. The gospel isn’t a “get out of jail free card”. The good news of Jesus is knowing that He paid it all, that we owe it all to Him. If we pursue growth, if we fight every day for that deeper relationship, one day we will be with God. Let’s be more like McDonald’s, Muscles and Math Geeks and grow. I want to leave you with this verse that I find a real inspiration:

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’” Matthew 25:21