One of those secrets exists in families where the husband/father is a narcissistic man. During thirty six years of congregational ministry, I noticed that occasionally a certain kind of man would emerge who could be quite a problem for others. This person had a view of himself that was completely self-absorbed.
Sometimes the issue was marriage related. At other times the issue centered on the problems that adult children had with a certain man in the family. Today, this particular pattern in a man is often referred to as narcissism. This husband/father is a narcissistic man in terms of the way he sees himself and consequently the way he relates to others.
One Sunday morning, a husband flies into a rage toward his wife. He calls her several demeaning names and then tells her she is crazy. Yet, a few hours later, he leads the opening prayer at their church. Others comment to her regarding how “lucky” she is to have such a husband. She wonders for a moment if she is not making a big deal out of nothing. After all, these people at the church think he is such a good man. She concludes that maybe she just needs to try harder.
Meanwhile, at home, her husband continues to be consumed with himself.
- He thinks he is smarter than everyone else. He regularly makes comments about how stupid various people are.
- He thinks that others owe him. He can even be resentful when a lunch partner doesn’t pick up the bill.
- He can be crude and rude with his humor. He has little, if any, empathy for others.
- He can be charming or mean depending on the situation. He can be the life of the party or he can be a bully with others.
- He may be more concerned with his image than the reality of his life. He has learned how to be perceived as a compassionate person at church. However, he may be more concerned with how he might be perceived on social media than the reality of his life.
- He often has power in a relationship because he is the least mature and cares the least.
- He will find ways to subtly dig at a friend or an acquaintance. If it seems that another is more competent or intelligent than him, he may decide that the person is lacking in other qualities.
Years ago, I noticed that the spouses of such men often thought the husbands were highly intelligent and they (the wives) perceived themselves to be not as smart, lower in intelligence, lacking in common sense, etc.
The truth is that such men are often juvenile, self-absorbed, and completely lacking in empathy for other people. While these men may be very connected in a congregation, they do not display spiritual maturity, godly character, or any sense of graciousness with others. They reveal their immaturity not their maturity.
The reality is that such a person’s spouse and children are cherished by God even if this person doesn’t cherish them. After all, it is the Father who determines our value and worth not another. Even though such a person might work to drain his spouse and children of any sense of self-worth, he cannot alter their true worth. Our true worth is determined by the Father, not another. In his eyes, each one of us has great value. See Matthew 6:25-34 where Jesus reminds us of just how valuable we really are in the eyes of God.