I don’t like being near them. They are so self-centered; it is as if everything revolves around them. I am talking about the people who are rude to restaurant servers, check-out assistants, flight attendants, and other service workers. Those people who feel so free to speak disparaging words about others, usually as they move out of ear shot. They are know-it-alls, arrogant, self-serving, and egotistical. They are typically good at some things but not as good as they describe themselves. Their greatest skill is making themselves look good in the eyes of those who can contribute to their increases in fame, wealth and security. In short, they are those whose lives are marked by the works of the flesh.
Oh, I left out one other trait that combined with the above makes these people intolerable for me; it’s the ones who present themselves as super spiritual that most get under my skin. They are good at God-talk and love to speak of sanctification, but their hearts are full of bitterness. They have a compulsion to slander anyone who doesn’t serve their plan for self-aggrandizement.
I am thankful for these people because they expose my own failings. When they preen and exalt themselves at the expense of others I can get angry quick. Anger triggers creative juices designing methods for putting them in their place. “Who do they think they are? I’ll show them.” Wait a minute, I might be them. Am I caught up in my own pride?
Arrogant, obnoxious people may indeed be messengers sent to buffet me, but I am too easily influenced by them. In this they show me how imperfect I am and how much I need the sanctifying grace of God. There is a righteous indignation that abhors sin, especially sins against those of lesser social status. But if it is righteous it flows from the heart of God and cannot be tainted by the sin of pride. Thus, righteous indignation is not well suited for self-declaration.
I accepted a long time ago that I am required to love these people. I try to be a friend to them, help them in any way I can. I have given myself permission to avoid them as much as possible. Love does not require masochism. But they cannot be avoided. Cream is not the only thing that rises to the top. They are often in positions of influence throughout the church and society. Perhaps when I mature to the place I no longer over react to these people and their condescending behavior to others, I will be freed from their constant presence. Is there a nursing home that screens out narcissists?
February 10, 2010