Ego– Self-esteem, self-importance; a person’s sense of this in himself or herself. That part of the mind which has a sense of individuality and is most conscious of self.
The word EGO can be scary because the proper balance of ego and humility is a true challenge. Thomas Merton said, “Everyone of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self. We are not very good at recognizing illusions, least of all the ones we cherish about ourselves.” Most of the time that is the way we think of our ego, that self-delusionary false self that we project to the world. Let me divide our ego into two parts.
We all need to have a positive view of ourselves if we are to look at the world in a realistic way. God created you in his own image, and that means that you are unbelievably valuable to him. People who have an exceptionally low self-esteem find it difficult to think well of others. God desires us to have a strong enough ego to be valuable and productive in the world. Our ability to love ourselves is key to our love for others. The writer Tennessee Williams believed that we see each other through our flaws. Our flaws are part of us, and we must embrace them as well. The problem is that we do not have enough positive ego to go beyond our flaws and flourish as God intended. We must value ourselves. Jesus put it best, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This is the part of our ego that is important to healthy living.
The second part of our ego is the dangerous one. We have all encountered egotistical, narcissistic, self-absorbed people in our lives. They make life miserable. Somehow they operate under the delusion that they are the only people in the world that really know anything. You want to know how to run your life, just ask. Egotistical people always have an answer, and their answer is the only one. Merton would refer to this type of behavior as the false self at it worst. This is the ego we are to avoid and control. Such ego leads to misunderstandings, hurt feelings and sometimes violent behavior.
The real key to understanding our ego is to embrace that we are created in the image of God. That means that we are to love ourselves. It also means that we are to conduct ourselves in a way that projects that created image. Psychologist Sigmund Freud warned that we must not give in to the primitive ego that destroys ourselves and others but must rise to the “super ego” that builds ourselves and others. Unlike Freud, I know that we do not have to do this alone. Because we are followers of Jesus, we have the companionship and guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God guides on our way. This Spirit shows how to love others as we love ourselves, and Jesus is the prime example of that love.
Your ego is not your natural born enemy, but it is a force to be reckoned with on your journey. Let us understand that we are worthwhile and valuable, but everyone we meet is just as valuable. Remember the words of the writer of Proverbs.
The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.
― Carl Gustav Jung
Most misunderstandings in the world could be avoided if people would simply take the time to ask, “What else could this mean?”
― Shannon L. Alder
Part of me suspects that I’m a loser, and the other part of me thinks I’m God Almighty.”
― John Lennon
Enlightenment is ego’s ultimate disappointment.”
― Chögyam Trungpa
“If a man thinks he is not conceited, he is very conceited indeed.”
― C.S. Lewis
The ego is the false self-born out of fear and defensiveness.”
― John O’Donohue
“The moment you become aware of the ego in you, it is strictly speaking no longer the ego, but just an old, conditioned mind-pattern. Ego implies unawareness. Awareness and ego cannot coexist.”
― Eckhart Tolle
“Or, rather, let us be more simple and less vain.”
― Rousseau Jean-Jacques
“You never really learn much from hearing yourself speak.”
― George Clooney
Never allow your ego to diminish your ability to listen.”
― Gary Hopkins
How to get rid of ego as dictator and turn it into messenger and servant and scout, to be in your service, is the trick.”
― Joseph Campbell
One may understand the cosmos, but never the ego; the self is more distant than any star.
―Gilbert K. Chesterton
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.
And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.
Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
~~~1 Peter 5:5
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life.
Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished.
LORD, We fear what our egos may drive us to do. You have warned us many times of the dangers of being prideful or boastful. Help me ,Lord, to have enough self-worth to glorify you and enough humility to value others. Guide me down the path that allows me to be the person that you intended to create.