“Saul replied, “I have sinned. But please honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel; come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord your God.” (1 Samuel 15:30) NIV
Have you ever met someone who you thought had an over inflated ego? Someone who had an enormous sense of self-importance? King Saul found himself in a situation where he placed more value on what the people thought of him than he did his role of being God’s anointed king and made a bad decision that ultimately cost him his kingdom.
I have found that those individuals with huge egos are usually some of the most fragile, sensitive and low self-esteem people walking the planet. Their ego is their facade. They actually care more about what YOU think of them than they do anything else, so how they portray themselves is vitally linked to how they want you to think of them.
These types of people are more concerned about their status than they are about relationship. They are so busy trying to create, manage and keep control of their facade they do not have time to devote to you or anyone else for that matter, and put an effort into developing a relationship.
People with large egos will go to extremes to elevate their position when they are around a group of people. They generally size up each individual knowing who is the strongest and who is the weakest and these become their targets. The strong ones are the ones they will try to tear down and replace and the weak ones are the ones they will elevate to try to gain support and loyalty.
If you have ever been in a situation like this, in either targeted role, then you understand the damage that occurs as a result. These situations occur on a daily basis in work environments, in social settings, in sporting activities and even in church.
Once the ego is confronted in a group setting and exposed, they generally melt-down, add fuel to the fire and retreat. They don’t necessarily go away but they lose their effectiveness and look for new targets.
This type of ego is easy to recognize but there are other forms of ego that are a lot harder to identify much less recognize as harmful.
If you recognize “ego” as a tool to manage “what others think” then you can begin to understand how it manifests itself. If you find yourself acting differently in a group setting than you normally do, then you can say that your “alter-ego” has come into play. If “ego” is a sense of “self” then “alter-ego” is a sense of “self” according to what “others think”. I’ll even take it a step further and state “what you think, others think”, because no one really knows what others think.
Our alter-ego leads us into situations where we act differently because of its driver which is fear. We fear what other will think of us so we change the way we act to conform to what we think will be acceptable to others way of thinking and these alter-egos take on various different forms unlike the over-inflated sense of worth.
For example, one form of alter-ego could be in a situation where we try to “fit-in” with a group that does not have the same Christian values we do. Normally we would speak openly about how God has been working in our life, what the preacher talked about on Sunday, but in this group we change our conversation and “omit” any talk of God or Jesus because we fear what these people will “think” or that we don’t fit in with them, or that they may put us down or it may cause them to look at us differently, etc. Maybe you don’t post any Christian content on your social media sites for this very same reason. Your “social status” reflects your “alter-ego”.
Maybe your decision-making is compromised by your alter-ego at times so that you can go along with the group or not stand out and call attention to your differences. There are many ways in which your alter-ego can manifest itself in any given situation.
So how do you keep your alter-ego in check? The same way you keep your ego in check. You make a commitment to be true to yourself yet more importantly to be true to God.
When you base your actions and decisions on the thoughts and opinions of others you will never be able to own your sense of self. When you place your sense of worth on what others think, or better, what you think others think, the value quotient will never be one that you can live peacefully or consistently with. The value metrics will always change according to who you are with.
When you make a commitment to base your sense of worth on what God thinks, then there is one consistently peaceful measure and that is His unconditional and undying love. He created you so He knows your value and your ultimate potential. His thoughts are loving, encouraging and equipping so that you can feel worthy in any given situation. He is always there to help you in any decision-making process and to position your “own thoughts” no matter what others think, say or do. He allows you to be you, not some altered form of you. God never judges you in the way that people do. He judges you against the examples His Son, Jesus, set when He sent Him to teach us about His love. His two main examples were: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and soul and Love others as you love yourself. (Luke 10:27, Mark 12:30) When you focus your ego around these teachings you find your true self worth and your true ego.
One thing is for sure, one day we will have to give an account of our actions to God, not people. (Romans 14:12, Hebrews 4:13)