Wednesday, November 10, 2010

On our endless struggle to think well of ourselves

Here's a bit from an article called Pastoral Narcissism:
T.S. Eliot wrote, "Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm, but the harm does not interest them … or they do not see it, or they justify it … because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves."

Although our mission in Christ is to do good in this world, we will actually do harm if our deeper mission is to feel important and "think well of ourselves." Eliot's words forced me to ask, How much harm do I do to my family, my friends, the people I am supposed to lead, all because I want to think well of myself?
The article speaks of "the shadow side of ambition," but I'm just not sure there's a "bright side." The author wants to salvage ambition (it's part of our American creed, after all) and even suggests that Jesus, when he said that the first shall be last and the last first, was simply redefining ambition rather than, as I believe, undermining the concept completely.

But anyway it's a good and thoughtful article, and the Eliot quote is a keeper!


Erin Hope said...

read about half the article.You're right, it's a really good quote though. and it seems to be a prevailing mood in a lot of places right now. ....actually, maybe it always has been.

jeff weddle said...

I thought the authors quote at the end was telling, "I am a pastor and a narcissist. There, it feels good to get it out." It feels good to admit he's a sinner, which is a narcissistic view of confessing sins!

I started reading this article the other day before I saw your post and couldn't handle his tone. As you point out, I think he's missing something huge here.

Bob said...

Yeah, I tried to cut the guy some slack, but I know what you mean, Jeff.