The Ego Factor
It seemed ridiculous to the young man. Why did I think that his relationship with a younger female was toxic? After all, he knew what he was doing. He was just providing encouragement to someone who was really struggling with life.
Harmless it would seem … except that the addiction of the young man was ego. The starry eyed response of the young lady drove something inside of him to new heights—heights that he would try to maintain over the next few days and weeks. Where would that journey take him? Possibly to something illegal and damaging for life?
Facebook. Snapchat. Twitter. Etc. So many people live out a petty show of emotional stuff for the world to see. With a few manipulative strokes, a post or two can gather a whole lot of attention. Some from victim status. Maybe throw in a suicidal tendency. A little bit of being the hero a time or two. Maybe some bragging about stuff or adventures. Some rescuing of others. And of course selfies.
Most people miss the common thread of the last paragraph. It is ego. The need to have more and more affirmation. After a while, it doesn’t matter what the affirmation looks like. Even negative feedback will do. At least it is attention!
The self pity person craves it. The one hopelessly given to romance is captured by it. The rescuer helps others so that he can be the center of attention and control. Even suicidal tendencies are often a cry for attention or even a manipulation tool to force others to comply with the attention addiction.
Yes, there is a link between the person who lives out personal stuff on social media, the person who can’t help himself or herself in relationship, the rescuer, the person who plays the self pity card, and even some of those with suicidal tendencies.
I once watched a self pity person lead a band of people all over the sanctuary. His story was sooo heart touching. The troops rallied around him to pray. Once. Twice. Three times. The groups ebbed and flowed through the prayer time—never quite succeeding to make anything better. What those praying didn’t know, was that they were being suckered into feeding his attention addiction. His actions over the next few days proved that to be true. The “prayers” were actually counterproductive. They fed the addiction.
Especially in an affluent society, we have too much time to think or to feel. As we sit there and churn on our own existence, the need to “have a purpose” or to “make a difference” is keenly felt. The “instant sensations” of the internet world give us unrealistic comparisons. Living out a life as a man or woman of God seems to be meaningless. If we can’t do something big, we are nothing.
Fit. It is a great word. Our value as human beings is that we have a place. Ego wants us to have THE place. The ego addict will never find his place, because the place created for him will not be glamorous enough. True greatness happens when a person steps into a place that blesses God and others. Notice, I said a place. One part. Some are called “great” because they get to play a more prominent part. But without the rest of the players, those called “great” would be nothing.
The ego addict would do well to get off of social media. He needs to shut down relationships that stroke his ego—even “prayer” partners if they are feeding his self pity. Stop the rescuing. Find people who will speak real truth and actually listen and follow through with advice. Make a commitment to do productive service activities—and keep that commitment. A high level of accountability is also good.
Whether it is affluenza, broken families, parenting choices or any of many other causes … the reality is that there are many confused, egocentric attention seekers in this generation. Oh yeah, James 3:16 indicates that the self seeking person will struggle with confusion. That is why a lifestyle of serving others helps—but way too many approach their acts of service with a “look at me” approach. When they do that, any value toward heart change is lost.
Sometimes to find your purpose, you have to lose your purpose. Can I be a blessing? If so, jump in and help. But, as the first paragraph describes, even “help” of others can be egoistic and sick. How do I know if I am healthy in my help of others?
The advice of Matthew 6 is good. Try to do what you do in a way that no one knows your part and that you receive little or no credit for what you have done. Be a team player. Choose not to stand out, but to support others. Make others successful.
Jesus’ words about “losing your life” (Luke 9:23) are the best for the ego addict. Be a blessing. To God. To others. In a way that you don’t attract attention. That is a purpose. A life worth living.