We live in a culture that glorifies self. Instead of looking to Christ for healing, society turns inward. Self-actualization, self-love, self-help, self-healing, self-reliance—none of these secular solutions work. My healing began when I quit navel-gazing. As I prioritized the needs of others and relied on God to fulfill me, Christ replaced me as the center of my life. The contrast between inner focus and upward focus was stark. How vain my old life had been! Well into adulthood, I’d functioned like a child vying for validation. Curious about cultural remedies to selfishness, I started reading up on the characteristics of a narcissist. I was shocked to see myself painted in the list of traits. Was I a narcissist? The world might jump to diagnose me—but the Bible offers a different perspective.
That said, let’s talk about potential for growth. Can narcissists, both clinically- and self-diagnosed, change? Yes. There is power in the cross of the resurrected Christ to break anyone free from any stronghold (Romans 6:1-3). Nothing is impossible with God (Matthew 19:25-26, Luke 1:37). The Apostle Paul said “it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13). We must all go through the process of sanctification to become mature Christians ready to serve God.
The traits of an immature person are almost identical to those that describe a narcissist. Naturally, every human is plagued with a handful of flaws to work on. But we must be careful to protect our hearts from those who have given themselves over to their sin (Proverbs 4:23; Ephesians 4:19). If antisocial traits or ungodly behaviors abound in a man you’re dating, don’t expect marriage to magically mature him. True change comes from surrender to God (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The first step toward maturity is recognizing the signs of immaturity. Here are the 10 I’ve found most common:
v Lack of empathy. Immature people struggle to understand or share the feelings of others. The Bible warns that the last days will be filled with godlessness and self-idolatry (2 Timothy 3:2). The more our faith matures, the better we become at elevating and empathizing with our neighbors.
v Misplaced anger: Instead of treating past challenges as opportunities to learn, immature people lash out. Their anger may manifest as simmering resentment or explosive outbursts. Because they are unwilling to face their history, they pour their frustrations onto their closest loved ones (Psalm 37:8).
v Victimization. Instead of taking responsibility for their own shortcomings, immature people blame others. They point fingers, justifying wrong actions with accusations that he made me do it or she pushed me to the edge—I had no choice (Proverbs 19:9).
v Instant gratification. Immature people sacrifice long-term wisdom for short-term pleasure. This myopia can result in financial ruin, reckless sexual behavior, and criminality. Acting on impulse, they barge head-first into temptation with little or no thought about the consequences (Proverbs 14:16).
v Egocentrism. Like toddlers, immature people are trapped within themselves. Blind to other points of view, they do only what seems best for them. Mature people see the big picture. Open to multiple perspectives, they temper their actions by considering the wisdom and needs of others (James 3:17).
v Hostility. When confronted or contradicted, immature people default to personal attack. Hostility can manifest as emotional abuse (sarcasm, character assassination, silent treatment, gaslighting) or escalate to physical abuse (Titus 3:1-2).
v Deception and manipulation. Immature people tell lies even when honesty would cost them nothing. Hiding their insecurities behind a mask of fabrication, they will do anything to maintain a good appearance (Galatians 1:10). Mature people are secure in their identity and do not fear authenticity.
v Blurred boundaries. Fudging one line and toeing another, immature people sabotage healthy relationships. Though their offenses are often inadvertent, such people do not grasp the importance of respecting boundaries. This disregard for others sometimes ends in an immature person’s becoming either a victim or perpetrator of abuse (Luke 6:31).
v Superficiality. Immature people lack depth. Instead of valuing character, they chase attractiveness, intelligence, wealth, status, charisma, and power—anything that will meet their basest needs (1 Samuel 16:7). That’s why close relationships with immature people leave mature people feeling used.
v Arrogance. Convinced they know it all, immature people are deaf to feedback. Puffed up with pride, they have neither room nor desire for personal growth. Immature people are wise in their own eyes (Romans 1:21-24). They reject truth from both God and people who wish to help.
With God, anyone can become mature. But when immature people harden their hearts to Christ, they suppress the truth of their own wickedness—or so they try (Isaiah 29:15). No matter how much we ignore our evil, it always finds us out (Number 32:23); God leaves no excuse for continued sin (Romans 1:20). That said, he does not force people to accept him, and we must be discerning in the friends we keep (Revelation 3:20; 1 Corinthians 15:33). “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people” (2 Timothy 3: 2-5).
Are you drawn to immature people? Are you an immature person? Do you find yourself obsessing over the various diagnoses listed on Google? Stop. Take a break and study only Jesus. He is the epitome of maturity. Any trait or behavior that clashes with his character is sinful. This practice of comparison will help you identify immaturity in both others and yourself.
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40 Days & Nights: Your Healing Journey to Freedom and Purpose