How Does Someone Become A Narcissist? Five Possible Ways

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I prefer to have blog entries “locked down” before publishing, but in this case I felt it best to go with my work in progress of analyzing the difficult question of how someone might become a narcissist.  This is an extra special case of “Putting “Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism” Into Perspective“, where this post should be taken simply as a fellow searcher sharing some thoughts and analysis which you could possibly use as a starting point for your own study rather than looking to it for “the answer”.  Some of the following adds a bit of Biblical perspective to what is already discussed in secular literature.

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How does someone become a narcissist?  In It’s Not NPD, It’s A Heart Issue, narcissism is discussed as a heart issue, but how does this happen?  I am currently working through five possible reasons someone can become a narcissist.  The following has to be considered in light of God’s ultimate Sovereignty as described in Proverbs 16:4, as well as the sin nature and pride inherent in every man.  I want to emphasize again that this post is a work in progress, and should just be taken as food for thought.

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The five causes we’re considering are:

  1. Internal response to childhood wounding
  2. Internal response to childhood indulgence
  3. The result of the “Progression of Fools”
  4. A consequence of the “sins of the fathers”
  5. Cultural-driven narcissism

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These causes are likely interconnected in many cases.  Let’s look at each of the five in a bit more detail.

Continue reading

How Much God Wants to Bless You – By John Piper

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“The Lord will again take delight in prospering you.” (Deuteronomy 30:9)

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“God does not bless us begrudgingly. There is a kind of eagerness about the beneficence of God. He does not wait for us to come to him. He seeks us out, because it is his pleasure to do us good. God is not waiting for us; he is pursuing us. That, in fact, is the literal translation of Psalm 23:6, “Surely goodness and mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life.”

“God loves to show mercy. Let me say it again. God loves to show mercy. He is not hesitant or indecisive or tentative in his desires to do good to his people. His anger must be released by a stiff safety lock, but his mercy has a hair trigger. That’s what he meant when he came down on Mount Sinai and said to Moses, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love” (Exodus 34:6). It’s what he meant when he said in Jeremiah 9:24, “I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

“God is never irritable or edgy. His anger never has a short fuse. Instead he is infinitely energetic with absolutely unbounded and unending enthusiasm for the fulfillment of his delights.

“This is hard for us to comprehend, because we have to sleep every day just to cope, not to mention thrive. Our emotions go up and down. We get bored and discouraged one day and feel hopeful and excited another.

“We are like little geysers that gurgle and sputter and pop erratically. But God is like a great Niagara Falls — you look at 186,000 tons of water crashing over the precipice every minute, and think: Surely this can’t keep going at this force year after year after year. Yet it does.

“That’s the way God is about doing us good. He never grows weary of it. It never gets boring to him. The Niagara of his grace has no end.”

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Devotional excerpted from John Piper’s book, “The Pleasures of God”

All The Reward They Will Ever Get

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Matthew 6:1-18

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.

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“So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.

Continue reading

Narcissism Case Studies – Diotrephes

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3 John 1:9-10

9 I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. 10 For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church.

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The tip-off to Diotrephes’ narcissism / insolent pride was his “love to be first among them”.   His insolent pride resulted in

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  • Not accepting what the apostle John was saying.
  • Accusing John with wicked words
  • Not receiving (ie – providing the opportunity) others who might challenge him
  • Getting rid of those who might possibly side with others

Classic narcissist behavior.

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Tragically, there are too many pastors and leaders of ministries who have the “Diotrephes Syndrome”.  Their core purpose is self-exaltation instead of shepherding the flock of God.  They construct their “ministries” and message around what will best serve their delusions of grandeur.  These are some of the false prophets whom Jesus warned us about

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Matthew 7:15-16

15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits.

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God will ultimately deal with these guys.  One way of protecting against them is to use a Biblically-based church leadership model of shared leadership.
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Boundlessly Good, Continued

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As I mentioned previously, the book “Boundlessly Good” is a modernized version of Stephen Charnock’s classic chapter on the goodness of God.  As this blog has publishing rights to that book, I have created a second blog that gives small excerpts from the book every few days.  It is a way to read the key excerpts from Boundlessly Good in bite size chunks, and thus rather painlessly read a Christian classic over time.

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The blog is called “Boundlessly Good”.  I invite you to take a look.

Narcissist Case Study – Self-Justification Through Technical Loopholes

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Luke 10:25-37

25 And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.”

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As was made clear by his answer, the lawyer already knew the Biblical answer to his question, implying that his question was not a sincere inquiry.  Luke called it a “test” – the lawyer was simply asking the question to see what kind of response he would get, with the chance perhaps that Jesus would say something that the lawyer could use against him – or possibly to show that he was somehow better than Jesus.  This is a typical narcissist tactic. Continue reading

Narcissistic Traits – Inflated View, No Follow-Through

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Proverbs 25:14 – Like clouds and wind without rain Is a man who boasts of his gifts falsely.

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Rain was considered a good thing in the Bible – especially in the region in which the Bible was written (the arid Middle East).  It was a source of the most  important physical component of life.  So, when clouds and wind kicked up, it was anticipated for rain to follow – as a good thing.  As a result, clouds and wind without rain without the resulting rain would be a significant disappointment.
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Out of their inflated view of themselves, narcissists will boast about how good they are at _____________ (fill in the blank – basically, whatever they’re trying to impress others with at that particular moment).   But more often than not, their boasts are not supported by reality.   So anyone who relies on a narcissist’s inflated claims is going to get hurt in some way.
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When dealing with people that focus on telling you how great they are, you might be dealing with a narcissist – make sure you get outside verification of their claims, rather than just accepting the (possible) narcissist’s claims.

Why? A Series of In-Depth Studies On Suffering

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Having a solid theological foundation for God’s purposes for suffering (as well as a close relationship with Him) is key to successfully ultimately joyfully navigating the rough waters of life.  For those interested in digging more deeply into The Book on the subject of suffering, I call your attention to the following:

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Desiring God’s “Look At The Book” on “Suffering”

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(Putting “Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism” Into Perspective)

 

 

 

Can A Narcissist Be A Christian? It’s All About Fruit vs. No Fruit

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“Can A Narcissist Be A Christian”? is one of the frequent search terms for people finding their way to this blog.  It is a very understandable question, along the lines of “How can X be a Christian and act like THAT?”, or “How can X claim to follow Jesus and treat people in the opposite way to how Jesus might”?

In John 15, Jesus makes it clear that the answer to this question is all about whether or not the person demonstrates any (and, as we shall see later, genuine) fruit.

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John 15:1-14

15 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. Continue reading

Dealing With Narcissists – Jesus, Simon, and the Woman

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While Jesus often taught about how to respond to life situations from a “Heavenly perspective”, He also frequently demonstrated it.  One example that is relevant to our study on how to deal with narcissists is when Jesus was invited to dinner by the Pharisee, Simon.

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Luke 7:36-50

36 Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume,38 and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.

39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.”

40 And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” Continue reading

Dealing With Narcissists – Fact Check Everything, continued

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Proverbs 18:17

17 The first to plead his case seems right,
Until another comes and examines him.

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In the perfectly robust way that God designed His Word, a specific point of Biblical wisdom can often be applied to a wide variety of circumstances. Continue reading

Narcissist Tactics – Flattery

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Jude 16-19

16 These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.

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 17 But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, 18 that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” 19 These are the ones who cause divisions…..

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Narcissists are big flatterers.  Many times it is obvious that they have something they are trying to get out of you through flattery and “buttering you up”, but sometimes it may not be so obvious.  Or they may be setting you up through flattery for something even worse than just trying to get something from you.  Either way, they they are using flattery in order to gain some kind of advantage over you in the pursuit of their desires, self-exaltation, or just plain winning.  They are doing it to entrap you into something that will hurt you and benefit them.  This flattery is not sincere, but instead is deceptive and manipulative – and the wise person will recognize it, see that it manipulative and NOT sincere praise), and avoid it.

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Romans 16:17-18

17 Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. 18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.

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Proverbs 29:5

A man who flatters his neighbor
Is spreading a net for his steps.

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Proverbs 26:28

28 A lying tongue hates those it crushes,
And a flattering mouth works ruin.

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Psalm 5:9

There is nothing reliable in what they say;
Their inward part is destruction itself.
Their throat is an open grave;
They flatter with their tongue.

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Psalm 12:2

They speak falsehood to one another;
With flattering lips and with a double heart they speak.

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Dealing With Narcissists – Focus On What You’re Doing, Instead Of What They’re Saying

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Matthew 11:16-19

16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, 17 and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”

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Putting “Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism” Into Perspective

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This blog started as part of a personal journey when God responded to my cry to Him for help during a particularly difficult period with a narcissist.  While we spend most of the time here exploring the depths of the Bible for solutions, I occasionally want to remind myself of three underlying purposes for this blog: Continue reading

Narcissist Tactics – The Shaming Wife

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Proverbs 12:4

An excellent wife is the crown of her husband,
But she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones.

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The first line of Proverbs 12:4 is a marvelous, positive example – but since we are studying narcissism in particular we are going to focus here on the second line.

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While a contentious wife may operate in private, a shaming wife operates publicly, putting her husband to shame in front of other people.  There are two ways that a wife could do this.  One way would be inappropriate public behavior that dishonors both herself and her husband.  You can easily think of your own examples, and they are not necessarily the actions of a narcissist / one with insolent pride.

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The second way a wife could shame her husband is through the narcissistic move of denigrating (ie – putting down, criticizing) her husband in public.  Why might she do this?   Continue reading

Be Loved, To Love

We Love Because He First Loved Us

Boundlessly Good

God's Motive For All That He Does