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In Greek mythology, Narcissus was a handsome young man pursued by many young women. Because he rejected all their advances, he angered the gods. They decided he needed to be punished. His punish­ment was to fall in love with his image in a reflecting pool and thus never attain his heart’s desire. The story is a myth, but narcissism—loving oneself above all else—lives on.

Narcissism comes naturally; it’s part of our sinful, human nature. We are told in Genesis 8:21 that “every inclination of his [man’s] heart is evil from child­hood.” Narcissism occurs in young children when they can only think of their own needs. With Christian training, a child learns to see Jesus as the most impor­tant person in life. A child also learns how caring about others and being sensitive to their needs can show love for Jesus.

Some children continue to be very narcissistic and may even continue that lifestyle into adulthood. They brag about their abilities and believe their accomplish­ments are greater than those of others. They lack com­passion and find it difficult to put the welfare of others above their own. Their thinking can be summarized in the words “I am better than you are—I am #1.”

Paul addressed narcissism when he wrote, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought” (Romans 12:3).

Narcissism is defeated when parents teach their chil­dren about Jesus’ love for them. In the self-sacrificing love of their Savior, children have the perfect model to follow. As children learn of Jesus’ love, they need to be taught how they can return that love. Parents teach love as it is based in real actions. As Paul outlined, “What­ever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17).

Parents need to train their children not to be self­-centered—to help others and show concern for all. As parents model selfless love and demonstrate their con­cern for others, children learn a valuable lesson.

On the other hand, some parents foster their chil­dren’s self-centeredness by overindulging them or con­tinually protecting them from experiencing the conse­quences of their bad choices.

How tragic it is to spend a lifetime thinking only of one’s self! How wonderful it is to live life for Christ by caring about others!

From Patient Parenting, by John Juern. © 2006 Northwestern Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Image credit: Michael Gaida (used under Creative Commons CC0)


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