Be Still My Soul

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NOTE:  This is the last day for the free Kindle book giveaway of “Time To Prepare:  Signposts On The Road To The End”.  This offer ends midnight tonight, Pacific Time.  No strings attached.  

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Some music (but not a lot) has great theology embedded.   Last week I heard for the first time in a long time a song with great, Biblically-based words – Be Still My Soul, set to the melody “Finlandia”.

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Be Still My Soul (Lyrics)

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​Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side;
bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
leave to thy God to order and provide;
in ev’ry change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heav’nly Friend
thro’ thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

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Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
to guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
all now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice, who ruled them while He dwelt below.

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Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
and all is darkened in the veil of tears,
then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
from His own fullness all He takes away.

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Be still, my soul: the hour is hast’ning on
when we shall be forever with the Lord,
when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past,
all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

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Narcissist Case Studies – They Make Fatal Mistakes (Haman)

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Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before stumbling. 
Proverbs 16:18
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The way of the wicked is like darkness;
They do not know over what they stumble. 
Proverbs 4:19
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Narcissists (aka those with insolent pride) stumble alot (see here),   Their stumbling often prevents them from making much progress in their self-exalting goals.  But even if a narcissist manages to achieve  or maneuver his way to a top position, his insolent pride can still blind his judgment to the point of making a fatal mistake (See “They Have Poor Judgement”).

In our final post about Haman for awhile, we clearly see this.  Once he had been promoted to the king’s right hand man, Haman thought he was invincible.  As a result, he felt he was free to destroy the entire population of Mordecai’s ethnicity, the Jews, with no consequences to himself. Continue reading

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Obsessing About The One Thing He Doesn’t Have

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Continuing in our case study of Haman.  Even though Haman had achieved “everything”, he was obsessed with the one thing he didn’t have – Mordecai’s recognition of Haman’s “glory”.   That is typical of narcissists* – they can have everything going “right” in their world, but in the middle of that will obsess about one little slight that they think they have received from someone.

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After these events King Ahasuerus promoted Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him and established his authority over all the princes who were with him.  All the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman; for so the king had commanded concerning him. But Mordecai neither bowed down nor paid homage……….When Haman saw that Mordecai neither bowed down nor paid homage to him, Haman was filled with rage. 

Esther 3:1-5

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This happened more than once.

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9 Then Haman went out that day glad and pleased of heart; but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate and that he did not stand up or[tremble before him, Haman was filled with anger against Mordecai.  Haman controlled himsef, however, went to his house and sent for his friends and his wife Zeresh. 

Then Haman recounted to them the glory of his riches, and the number of his sons, and every instance where the king had magnified him and how he had promoted him above the princes and servants of the king.   Haman also said, “Even Esther the queen let no one but me come with the king to the banquet which she had prepared; and tomorrow also I am invited by her with the king.

 Yet all of this does not satisfy me every time I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.” 

Esther 5:9-13

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By his own words, even though the king promoted Haman to 2nd in command in the kingdom, Haman said, “yet all of this does not satisfy me every time I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate”.

One prime characteristic of one with insolent pride (narcissists) is that they want it ALL, they are never completely satisfied, they want to be unquestionably #1 with no exceptions, they want everyone’s love and admiration.  This drive is so entrenched in their hearts that they obsess over any “slight” that challenges it.

A story circulated a years ago about a famous, obviously narcissistic politician who could be in a room of admirers, but would spend an entire evening trying to win over the one person in the room whom he sensed had less than complete admiration.  He could not tolerate less than complete admiration.

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When they are slighted it can lead to anger, and even retribution, as Haman’s case study shows.

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* Narcissist is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible calls “insolent pride”  please see here for an explanation

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Narcissist* Case Studies – Haman

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As mentioned recently, the person called Haman in the Old Testament book of Esther was most likely a narcissist (scoffer, one filled with insolent pride).  How do we know that Haman was a narcissist?  Look at some of the descriptions:

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10 Haman ……. went to his house and sent for his friends and his wife Zeresh. 11 Then Haman recounted to them the glory of his riches, and the number of his sons, and every instance where the king had magnified him and how he had promoted him above the princes and servants of the king. 12 Haman also said, “Even Esther the queen let no one but me come with the king to the banquet which she had prepared; and tomorrow also I am invited by her with the king. 

Esther 5:10-12

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This is clear narcissistic self-aggrandisement.  See here and here and here for more.

In his insolent pride, Haman created a plan to get rid of Mordecai’s people, the Jews.  The book of Esther is an illustration of how God prepares a slippery slope leading to sudden destruction for such people, as described in Psalm 73.

Setting the stage as part of God’s rescue plan and the revelation of Haman’s evil plan arising from his insolent pride, God actively worked behind the scenes.  We often assume that God does not see and hear our cry for help, totally blind to what He is actually doing.

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During that night the king could not sleep so he gave an order to bring the book of records, the chronicles, and they were read before the king. It was found written what Mordecai had reported concerning Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs who were doorkeepers, that they had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus.

The king said, “What honor or dignity has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” Then the king’s servants who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.”So the king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king’s palace in order to speak to the king about hanging Mordecai on the gallows which he had prepared for him. The king’s servants said to him, “Behold, Haman is standing in the court.” And the king said, “Let him come in.” 

Esther 6:1-5

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Typical of narcisissts, Haman delusionally assumed that he was the one whom the king was preparing to honor, oblivious to the reality of what was taking place.

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So Haman came in and the king said to him, “What is to be done for the man whom the king desires to honor?” And Haman said to himself, “Whom would the king desire to honor more than me?”

Then Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king desires to honor,let them bring a royal robe which the king has worn, and the horse on which the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal crown has been placed; and let the robe and the horse be handed over to one of the king’s most noble princes and let them array the man whom the king desires to honor and lead him on horseback through the city square, and proclaim before him, ‘Thus it shall be done to the man whom the king desires to honor.’” 

Esther 6:6-9

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In his pride, Haman immediately and mistakenly assumed that he was the most deserving of the king’s honor.  His advice to the king on how to honor him was to create an image that effectively exalted Haman to be on the same level as the king in the eyes of the public – wearing the king’s robe, riding the king’s horse, and having someone go in front proclaiming the greatness of the man being exalted.

This is exactly what the original narcissist satan attempted – to be exalted to the same level as his king, in this case God.

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In the end, Haman’s insolent pride led to his sudden downfall.

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* Narcissist is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible calls “insolent pride”.  See here and here for an explanation

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God Sees Everything Our N Does And Plans

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Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the Lord,
How much more the hearts of men! 
Proverbs 15:11
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Pay heed, you senseless among the people;
And when will you understand, stupid ones?

He who planted the ear, does He not hear?
He who formed the eye, does He not see?

He who chastens the nations, will He not rebuke,
Even He who teaches man knowledge?

The Lord knows the thoughts of man,
That they are a mere breath. 

Psalm 94:8-11

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As we said here, one fear we may have in our dealings with a narcissist (one with insolent pride) is that the narcissist might be “getting away with it”.   Holding on to this fear prevents us from releasing things to God and turning our focus to our own heart, wise actions, and responsibilities – rather than on what the narcissist is doing.  Our fear that the narcissist will receive no consequences is based on two separate fears:  1.  That God does not see what’s going on, and  2.  That even if He does see, He is not going to do anything about it.

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Even though a narcissist / one with insolent pride may work very hard to conceal their true goals, motives, and tactics for achieving what they want – and even though they may fool most people most of the time – God fully sees what they’re doing and the evil in their hearts that is driving their actions.  And He will not let them get away with it, but will judge them and provide the exact consequences needed.

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Letting God do His job frees us to focus on gaining the wisdom we need to deal with our narcissist.

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O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.
Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me. 

Psalm 131

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In Psalm 131, “great matters” refers to God orchestrating everything as part of His grand plan for a purpose of love.  And “things too difficult for me” are things that God controls on my behalf and for my good, out of His goodness and grace.  Leaving things of God to God, and focusing on my own part, lays the foundation for a far greater peace.

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Please see here for the initial steps on how to know God personally

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Their Fall May Come Suddenly

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We are frequently tempted to lament that the arrogant “get away with it” – prospering, thinking far more highly of themselves than they should, and even speaking against God.  This was certainly the case of the Psalmist in Psalm 73

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Surely God is good to Israel,
To those who are pure in heart!
But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling,
My steps had almost slipped.

For I was envious of the arrogant
As I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
For there are no pains in their death,
And their body is fat.
They are not in trouble as other men,
Nor are they plagued like mankind.

Therefore pride is their necklace;
The garment of violence covers them.
Their eye bulges from fatness;
The imaginations of their heart run riot.

They mock and wickedly speak of oppression;
They speak from on high.
They have set their mouth against the heavens,
And their tongue ]parades through the earth. 

Psalm 73:1-9

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But little do they know that when God says “enough”, they will fall from grace with surprising speed.

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When I pondered to understand this,
It was troublesome in my sight
Until I came into the sanctuary of God;
Then I perceived their end.

Surely You set them in slippery places;
You cast them down to destruction.
How they are destroyed in a moment!
They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors!

Like a dream when one awakes,
O Lord, when aroused, You will despise their form. 

Psalm 73:16-20

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We see modern-day examples, but a prominent Biblical example of this sudden “fall from grace” iss Haman (book of Esther), a big-time narcissist.  Haman had been given a position of highest prominence in the kingdom a year earlier, but used that position to orchestrate a national attack against God’s people.  As a result he went from congratulating himself for Queen Esther’s invitation to a private banquet with the king, to being hung on the gallows in less than a week.

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God knows everything, is always aware, and always working in accordance with His purposes and ways.  He is “opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  He always has the last say, in His way and in His timing.

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 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. 

Galatians 6:7

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We may think N’s are getting away with it, but God says that in the end they will be humbled.

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Narcissist Tactics – They Conceal Their Hatred

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One reason dealing with Narcissists is tricky is that they do not play honestly.  They readily employ deception to accomplish their purposes.

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N-Laying Up Deceit In Their Heart

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A Narcissist hates anything or anyone that gets in the way of their “glory”.  (Yes, hate is a strong word, but if you consider things on a spectrum of love vs. hate, they are on the hate side of the spectrum.)   While they may respond with an immediate full frontal assault, they might also keep their feelings hidden until such time that they can do the most damage.    They will try to disguise their hatred with their lips, by speaking graciously even while they hate you in their heart.  But don’t believe them.  They still fully intend to “trash” you (Proverbs 9:7 – “he who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself”), or undermine you – they’re just waiting for a better time or opportunity. Continue reading

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Narcissist Traits – They Avoid Accountability (Pharisee Case Study)

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Narcissists (the secular term for scoffers or those with insolent pride) act to achieve their self-exalting, self-centered goals, but then aggressively avoid blame when called to account for their actions.  The Pharisees provide a prominent case study.  They stirred up the crowds against Jesus…..

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20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to put Jesus to death. But the governor said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.”  Pilate *said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all *said, “Crucify Him!”  And he said, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they kept shouting all the more, saying, “Crucify Him!”

When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this Man’s blood; see to that yourselves.” And all the people said, “His blood shall be on us and on our children!”   

Matthew 27:20-25

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But when Peter and other apostles publicly shared the gospel, the religious leaders objected greatly to being accused of their complicity in the death of Jesus.

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27 When they had brought them [Peter and others], they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 

Acts 5:27-28

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We know from here that Pharisees were examples of narcissists / those with insolent pride.  The very people who stirred up the crowds to ask Pilate to release Barabbas and crucify Jesus were the same ones who later tried to avoid being pegged with responsibility for Jesus’ death.  This is a classic narcissist move – seeking to be above accountability for their actions.  Even when there is clear evidence to the contrary.
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While our encounter with the narcissist in our life is far less prominent and far less dramatic, his drive to never be wrong is the same – even in the smallest of things.  He (or she) will blame, deflect, defend, and accuse you of meanness in attacking him – but he will not acknowledge what he’s done or admit to being wrong.
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Note:  The point of this entry is not to say “the Jews killed Jesus”, but to illustrate the narcissistic tendency to avoid accountability for the very actions for which the narcissist is responsible.  The Pharisees were not all narcissists, and the actions of Matthew 27 and Acts 5 were ultimately done by individuals.   See here for an additional discussion on calling the Pharisees “narcissists”.
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Also, there is additional reading on the various Jewish theological schools of thought and practice @ http://www.centralcal.com/crist2.htm
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*Narcissist is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible calls “insolent pride” – see here for more
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God Will Most Definitely Settle Accounts With The Proud and Lofty …….

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We discussed here that God will deal with the proud and haughty.  Isaiah makes it clear that, even though it is not obvious to people now, and even though it may seem slow in coming, a specific day of reckoning for the unrepentant proud will come.  Proud mankind will think everything is going well, until the tables are instantly turned.

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Isaiah 2:12-22

12 For the Lord of hosts will have a day of reckoning
Against everyone who is proud and lofty
And against everyone who is lifted up,
That he may be abased.
Continue reading

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Narcissism’s Impact On Job Performance

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Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before stumbling. 

Proverbs 16:18

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We have seen in these pages that the Bible discusses consequences for insolent pride – but sometimes it is hard to see in real life since it appears that narcissists almost always “get away with it” (see Psalm 73).  One area where we would expect the consequences to be seen would be in the area of job performance.

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People in many lines of work get their performance evaluated through the eyes of others – thus giving the narcissist the opportunity to manipulate situations to his own advantage.  However, in the field of money management the job performance is summarized in the simple final number of the investment return.  This means that the ultimate job performance is not based on what people think, but on actual results.

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A study was done using the field of money management as the “hard number arbiter of job performance results” which shows that narcissists (embedded in a broader group of psychopaths) in fact do have lower job performance.  If you’re interested, here is the article which discusses this:

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Psychopath Hedge Fund Managers Make Less Money

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Why would a narcissist have lower job performance?  Because they think they know best, are unwilling to listen to wise counsel or anything that might prove them wrong, and in their superiority believe that minimal effort should result in maximum accolades.

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God’s Plan For A Purpose Of Love

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We wrestle through much of our lives, often too busy to think deeply about what is going on.  But, occasionally when we face a uniquely difficult situation we may ask ourselves “why”.  Why did God “allow” this problem?  Why is my life the way it is?  We may look at the bigger picture by asking “why did God design life the way He did?”.   The following is not an exhaustive discussion, but something to consider.

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As you ponder, a key piece is to understand that God has a fundamental plan for a purpose of love, for everyone.

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….. In all wisdom and insight He [God] made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him [Jesus] ……….. who (God) works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.

Ephesians 1:8-12

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Ephesians 1:8-12 explains clearly that God has a plan – for you, me, everyone – for a purpose of love – “the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention”.   This plan is not just spoken of in Ephesians 1.  Isaiah talks about God’s wonderful works, based on His plans formed long ago (i.e. – before Creation), with perfect faithfulness (fully consistent with His nature, including His goodness).

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O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; For You have worked wonders, plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.

Isaiah 25:1

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To arrive at this plan, God thought through every possibility which could exist (“in all insight” – think trillions X trillions X trillions) and chose the optimal one (“in all wisdom”) which would accomplish His purpose of love.  And He executes everything, down to the tiniest detail, according to the plan which he has created (“works all things after the counsel of His will”).

The essence of God’s nature is love, so any plan consistent with that nature would be a plan formed and executed from His heart of love.

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“God is love” – 1 John 4:8

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The centerpiece of this plan is the ultimate demonstration of His love (“which He purposed in Him [Jesus]”) through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus to save His enemies from the consequences of their actions.

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For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

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To emphasize again, God – out of His core nature of love and an overflowing desire to express that love – came up with the single best plan that would most fully demonstrate that love.  And that plan would be to die for worthless, far-beneath-Him enemies to save them from what they deserved and to replace that with the highest standing possible as eternal citizens of Heaven.

The end of all of this is that we will praise Him for his manifold excellence (“praise of His glory”) which He has shown in every possible way – and of which we have been made a prime beneficiary.  While God’s plan for a purpose of love is general (“for God so loved the world” – John 3:16), it is also specific to you and specific to me.

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When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”

John 21:18-22

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When we ask why God is allowing a narcissist to wreak havoc in our lives, we can be confident in our belief that it is not random – there is a much bigger plan in play, and the essence of that plan is love.  The proof of God’s goodness is Jesus’ death on the cross for us.  And God makes it clear that if He was willing to do that, why would He not shower us with other demonstrations of His goodness?

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What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?   

Romans 8:31-32

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It is impossible for me or anyone else to tell you what God’s plan for a purpose of love is for you.  God is weaving together millions of millions of life circumstances specifically for you.  While the broad themes might be similar, your life and God’s plan for your life is one-of-a-kind.  I have an identical twin brother, and we have a lot in common in our life trajectories – but our lives are not at all the same.  My wife’s life and my life are very different, even though they are lived together.

Why this way?  God’s BIG plan was realized through the singular most important event in history, but the billions x billions of demonstrations and outflowing of that plan through the wide variety of our individual lives further displays God’s glory like additional facets of a diamond.  An 16-sided diamond is good, but a 10,000-sided diamond far more glorious in the light it reflects.

Of course, those who do not believe but reject God and His love have a very different outcome.  They forfeit much of God’s goodness in this present life (they still receive His common goodness given to all mankind), and more importantly experience His wrath reserved for those who reject Him.

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The First Example Of Covert Narcissism In The Bible

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The lies, manipulation, and deceit of covert narcissism are in many ways far more destructive than the in-your-face approach of overt narcissists.  When a covert narcissist successfully portrays their lie as the truth, they change the life course of everyone who believes their lie. – as well as their intended target.  Most of us want to believe that what we are hearing from someone is the truth, and most of us start by believing the best of others – as this is a more positive way to live.  That makes us more vulnerable to believing the lies of a covert narcissist.

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The Bible illustrates this multiple times, starting with the original narcissist, Satan.  When he first appeared to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, he did not say “I’m a big powerful angel – in fact the most beautiful angel.  I can do great things for you, so you should follow me and let me help you”.  Instead his tool for getting them to follow him started by very subtly and deceitfully undermining a constraint which God had established.

God clearly told Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and outlined the consequences if they did….

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15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. 16 The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not [n]eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” 

Genesis 2:15-17

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Satan did not use the overt narcissist tactic of, “I’m great, follow me”.  Instead he first created doubt by asking a seemingly “innocent” question – “did God really say that?”

 

Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from [a]any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 

Genesis 2:3-5

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Satan’s first question was in fact not innocent because of his underlying intention to drive a wedge between Adam and Eve, and God.  In our interactions with our covert narcissist we might consider such an “innocent” question as simply a request to double back and confirm the truth.  In this case, since God had already clearly stated His boundary, questioning if God really said it was an invitation to disobedience.

After Eve’s not-quite-accurate answer to Satan’s setup question, Satan next directly lied in contradiction to God by saying, “you surely will not die!”  He followed the lie by undermining God’s goodness by implying that God was withholding something good from Adam and Eve through the boundary He had set – “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil”.

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Satan used the setup question, the follow-up lie,  and the questioning of God’s motive to turn the desires of Eve’s heart into successfully separating Adam and Eve from their Creator.  We all know the result of Adam and Eve naively falling for this covert narcissist’s (Satan) tactics.

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How can we avoid being duped by the covert narcissist?

We need to seek to replace our naivete with prudence.  God says twice in Proverbs

The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, But the naive go on, and are punished for it. 

Proverbs 22:3

A prudent man sees evil and hides himself, The naive proceed and pay the penalty. 
Proverbs 27:12
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When God repeats something, pay attention.  Even though normal people want to take a constructive approach to others, it is important to understand that evil lurks in the heart of man, and not simply believe everything.

One way to do that is to fact check,

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The first to plead his case seems right, Until another comes and examines him.
Proverbs 18:17
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A covert narcissist will typically “go first” in his steps to manipulate a situation.  He is the one with the plan, the intention to get what he wants.  By going first he gets to set the agenda, to define the playing field, and to put his target on the defensive.  Those whom the covert narcissist is trying to manipulate for there agenda must realize that these people exist, and not accept everything we hear at face value.
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One other thing that we can do is to ask God to thwart the covert narcissist’s efforts.  Psalm 5 is one of several Psalms to use as a prayer guide
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For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness;
No evil dwells with You.
The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes;
You hate all who do iniquity.
You destroy those who speak falsehood;
The Lord abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit.
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Lord, lead me in Your righteousness because of my foes;
Make Your way straight before me.
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.
10 Hold them guilty, O God;
By their own devices let them fall!
In the multitude of their transgressions thrust them out,
For they are rebellious against You.   
Psalm 5:4-6, 8-10
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I believe that most covert narcissists would be overt narcissists if they got the chance.  But in the meantime we should have a goal of becoming far more discerning to identify the covert narcissists in our midst and be alert to their tactics.
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How Do You Know There’s A Covert Narcissist In Your Midst?

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One subject we have not talked about much is the difference between overt and covert narcissism.  At its most basic:

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  • An overt narcissist is an in-your-face braggart and bully
  • A covert narcissist plays the victim, and uses manipulation and deceit to get what they want,

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There is not a clear line between the two – an overt narcissist may use manipulation and deceit, and a covert narcissist may be a bully if they get the chance.

As the covert narcissist is far more subtle, they are harder to spot.  How can you recognize one in your midst?  Look for non-stop drama and wide-spread conflict that you can’t quite identify nor be sure of the source.

Proverbs 22:10 makes clear that scoffers – a Biblical term for narcissist – are a source of contentiousness:

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Drive out the scoffer, and contention will go out, Even strife and dishonor will cease. 
Proverbs 22:10
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The fact that if you drive them out, contention leaves as well means that narcissists are a source of contention.  Proverbs 26:20 indicates that this contention can be very subtle.
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For lack of wood the fire goes out, And where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down. 
Proverbs 26:20
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The Hebrew word for whisperer means “talebearer” or “slanderer”.
Covert narcissists will “whisper” as part of their toolbox to spread rumors, lies, and even true things that undermine others as part of their manipulation of a situation to achieve their own ends.  The “whispering” is a source of contention and conflict, but they do it subtly and quietly so that they seem “innocent” even while they are wreaking destruction.
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So, if you are in a group that is roiling in conflict, look around and see if you can identify a covert narcissist who is subtly undermining others in order to achieve some goal of self-exaltation or dominance over one or more people.
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The Key To Peace

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When we are in a difficult and stressful situation, we want solutions.  But it would also be nice to have peace, and even joy in the middle of the situation.  We will try to address joy in another blog post, but let’s start with attaining peace.  Is there a consistent way to have peace even when under stress?

Psalm 131 explains how:

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Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.
Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
From this time forth and forever. 

Psalm 131

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Key principles in this Psalm show us how to be at peace regardless of our circumstances

  1. It starts with a humble heart

Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; 

Psalm 131:1

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What is humility?  One working definition is that it is clearly seeing God’s greatness, while at the same time recognizing our lack of greatness – our deep need in every area of life.  Humility goes further to demonstrate our recognition of our needs by going to God for them instead of taking things into our hands.  Humility also recognizes that our fellow man is in the exact same position as us, and rather than looking down our noses we assist them through encouraging them to look to God while at the same time helping them to the extent that we can.

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2.  A humble heart leads us to let God be God, not attempting to take His place

Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me. 

Psalm 131:2

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Psalm 131 lists 2 things not to be involved with, leaving one thing that we should focus on.  The 2 things to not involve ourselves with are:

  1. “Great matters” – includes things which God and only God can orchestrate – this ranges from the geopolitical affairs of the world, to the weather, all the way down to how other people behave
  2. “Things too difficult for me” – includes things beyond our ability to control.  Can you change your spouse?  No, only God can do that.  Can you control every circumstance of your life?  No.  You CAN work hard, take personal responsibility, develop your personal character, and manage your personal response to others.  But many parts of your life are in God’s hands, not yours.

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Not involving ourselves in these 2 things leaves us free to focus on what remains – things that God has made my responsibility.  The implication is – “do what you can and should, and trust God for the rest”.

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Focusing on our responsibility and leaving the rest to God requires us to truly trust Him….

    • His 100 percent love for us,
    • His 100 percent knowledge and wisdom in guiding our situation,
    • His 100 percent power to execute His wise plan for us from His heart of goodness
    • His 100 percent consistency and faithfulness

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This is what Proverbs 3:5-6 talks about when it says,

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Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight. 

Proverbs 3:5-6

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Trusting in God means that we do not take HIS things into our own hands, which often makes things worse and results in a life where we feel that we are careening off the walls.

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God does give us prayer as a means to link His will with our hearts, and to give us an outlet for the anguish of our needs.  God’s goal in EVERY situation is for us to know Him more, so that we more clearly see His greatness.  Taking every need to Him in prayer is a key to doing this.

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Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

Philippians 4:6-7

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Leaving God’s things to God leads to peace and contentment.  Psalm 131 describes it this way.

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Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me. 

Psalm 131:3

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Please click here for the initial steps to peace with God

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Narcissist Tactics – A Story Of Manipulation

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I am currently dealing with a counseling situation, elements of which I have seen before in a missions context.  The short version is that a narcissist has subtly manipulated a group of people in her (I would call it evil) attempt to undermine and dominate her husband.  Her insolent pride arose from growing up in a tough situation, resulting in deep underlying fear which has resulted in an ongoing attempt to control her world in insolent pride.  The book The First Will Be Last:  A Biblical Perspective on Narcissism explains this more fully.  While we can be empathetic to her root causes, and pray for healing, she is also responsible for her own responses to her early trauma.

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Like in other cases, the narcissist has spread lies and half-truths to turn everyone against the husband.  And as usual, he in this case is not perfect or blameless. In addition, he responded to the manipulation against him in frustration and and anger.  Both of these helped the N more easily succeed in painting herself as a saint and her husband as the bad guy.

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Most people, especially in a Christian context, expect those they are talking with to be truthful.  As a result, we naively tend to believe what we’re being told without fact-checking it.  This is contrary to what God warns us in Proverbs

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The first to plead his case seems right, until another comes and examines him.
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Proverbs 18:17
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This has made it far easier for the narcissist to manipulate the situation.
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There are examples in Scripture of narcissists manipulating others to become tools in reaching their goals.  The primary one is how the Pharisees (Biblical examples of narcissists, see here) manipulated Pilate to do their dirty work.  John 19:1-16 describes the entire sequence, but the following statements by the Pharisees demonstrate how they manipulated and bullied Pilate to accomplish their goals
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Jesus answered, “You [Pilate] would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” 12 As a result of this Pilate made efforts to release Him, but the Jews cried out saying, “If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes Caesar.” 
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John 19:11-12
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and
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And he [Pilate] *said to the Jews, “Behold, your King!”  So they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” Pilate *said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” 

So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified. 

John 19:14-16

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The chief priests did not truly see Caesar as their king.  They said that to manipulate and force Pilate into doing their bidding.  Pilate did not take the time nor had the courage to dig into what they were really doing, with the serious consequence of becoming complicit in the death of Christ.  As we saw earlier, Jesus said that the chief priests had the greater sin, but He did not let Pilate off the hook.

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Back to our counseling situation – what is the husband to do if the narcissistic wife successfully recruits others against him?  Lies against you are virtually impossible to fight on your own.  We must always remember that we can have the God of the Universe as our defender if we are righteous before Him.  The husband first must look to himself and own his mistakes, and yield to God.
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Who can say, “I have cleansed my heart,
I am pure from my sin”? 
Proverbs 20:9
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The process starts with looking internally, and rather than defending yourself admit that there is some measure of sin in your own heart.  If you have done something wrong confess and ask forgiveness, even if the N will use that against you.
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But once that is done, boldly ask God to work on your behalf to protect and defend you
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  1. Ask God to humble the N
  2. Ask God to expose the N’s lies and manipulations
  3. Ask God to defend your reputation (to the extent He sees it is necessary)
  4. Ask God to thwart or counteract specific moves the N makes …
  5. Ask God to bring you specific encouragement and blessing

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Psalm 17 illustrates this:

Hear a just cause, O Lord, give heed to my cry;
Give ear to my prayer, which is not from deceitful lips.
Let my judgment come forth from Your presence;
Let Your eyes look with equity.
You have tried my heart;
You have visited me by night;
You have tested me and You find nothing;
I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress.
As for the deeds of men, by the word of Your lips
I have kept from the paths of the violent.
My steps have held fast to Your paths.
My feet have not slipped.

I have called upon You, for You will answer me, O God;
Incline Your ear to me, hear my speech.
Wondrously show Your lovingkindness,
O Savior of those who take refuge at Your right hand
From those who rise up against them.
Keep me as the apple of the eye;
Hide me in the shadow of Your wings
From the wicked who despoil me,
My deadly enemies who surround me.
10 They have closed their unfeeling heart,
With their mouth they speak proudly.
11 They have now surrounded us in our steps;
They set their eyes to cast us down to the ground.
12 He is like a lion that is eager to tear,
And as a young lion lurking in hiding places.

13 Arise, O Lord, confront him, bring him low;
Deliver my soul from the wicked with Your sword…

Psalm 17:1-13

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On top of this is to pray that God would “enlighten the eyes of the heart” of the narcissist (Ephesians 1), so that they would have a radical revelation of who God really is, and see themselves clearly in comparison to God’s greatness and glory.  This is the foundation to their healing.  This discussion is way beyond the scope of this blog post, but outlined in the book, “The First Will Be Last:  A Biblical Perspective On Narcissism“.

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Click here for initial steps on how to know God personally

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