Have you ever met someone who just seemed full of themselves? All they talk about is what they’ve accomplished and what is happening to them. They are consumed with their own perspective and personal interests. Everything seems to be about them! Even as I write this, I’m hoping I’m not one of those people! Paul warned against this “Self-Importance Syndrome” when he wrote the Roman Christians, “Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.” Romans 12:3 (NLT)
So how do I know if I’m struggling with a “self-importance” syndrome? Here are a few symptoms and solutions for this malady.
SOME SYMPTOMS OF SELF-IMPORTANCE
- They make themselves the exception to the rule. Self-important people feel they can and should be the exception. One question I try to ask myself regarding this is: “What if everyone did this?” For example, “What if everyone was late to this meeting?” When I make myself the “exception” it exposes my self-importance!
- They feed off attention. Self-important people feel important. I remember a staff person who always took the credit. It was about them, not about others. Self-important people are hurt when they are overlooked. They want to be noticed. They long for the spotlight.
- They don’t want to be challenged. They don’t like to be opposed. They are insecure and do not like to be slighted. They often feel threatened by those who disagree with them. Their focus is only on what they want from others.
“Love… is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way.”
I Corinthians 13: 4-5 (ESV)
- They love the frills of power and privilege. Self-important people look for the good seats. They like to hang out with people who have money and power. Their behavior says that only a handful of people are “good enough” and the rest they tend to look down their noses at.
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3 (NLT)
SOME SOLUTIONS FOR SELF-IMPORTANCE
- Acknowledge the importance of others. Point out other people’s wins and contributions. None of us are successful alone. A good leader shares the credit and is willing to take the blame.
- Stop comparing yourself. Truly, no one wins in this game. It’s impossible to partner with the people with whom you’re secretly competing. So stop comparing and start complimenting. Gratitude is the antidote to comparison.
- Be a servant. Too often our definition of leadership resembles the actual definition of dictatorship! A servant leader is the antithesis of a dictator, choosing instead to help and develop others. Someone put it this way, “Be important enough to make others important.”
- Acknowledge your own tendencies towards self-importance. To say “this ain’t” me” may indicate it is you! We all have a tendency to put ourselves first. They say admitting you have a problem is the first step toward finding help. So acknowledge your tendency and put safeguards in place to help you in the future: find a trusted friend to speak gentle truth when you get off track or invite your coach to hold you accountable; look for ways to celebrate the wins of others; practice gratitude.
BEFORE YOU GO…
How self-important do you think you are? The scariest thing is that our self-importance distances us for God. The Bible makes it clear that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (see James 4: 6-10). Afterall, only God is the one who is ultimately important! He alone deserves all the praise and honor–never us!