Narcissism is in the Seventh-day Adventist church, and Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, can help.
Here are seven passages of Scripture that can help if you are in a relationship with someone who has narcissistic traits, and/or is controlling. Not all controlling people are narcissists, but all narcissists are controlling. These passages are not focused on changing the narcissist or controller, but on helping their friends.
1. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18.
It is very important for a person who believes they are involved with a person who has narcissistic traits to grow in the knowledge of our Saviour Jesus Christ.
This website encourages Seventh-day Adventists to grow in the understanding that Jesus Christ truly is the Son of the Father, as 2 John 1:3 states.
Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love. 2 John 1:3
I’ve heard it said before that “error never sanctifies.” Knowing that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Father helps to see the paternal love of the Father. Relationships cannot but be improved by this knowledge. Ask your Father in heaven to show you what you need to learn to be a better help in a relationship with a possible narcissist. God may impress you with your need to develop better boundaries or maybe you are dealing with a spirit of fear and are in need of power, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).
As you walk closer to Jesus Christ, you will hear the still small voice prompting which way you need to personally grow:
And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. Isaiah 30:21
When we grow nearer in character to Jesus Christ, all of our unhealthy ways of interacting with our controlling friend can be replaced by new and healthy interactions. Don’t wait for them to change. Your friend may be in need of your growth in Christ before they will recognize the need to change.
2. And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men… Colossians 3:23
This scripture alone has the power to set a person free from controlling people. How?
Narcissists and controlling people are attracted to others who like to follow and be led. They have friendships with people who are easy going and are very catering. I don’t believe this thought is new, but just common sense. If a person has a deep need for attention and control, then they will look to connect with someone that has opposite tendencies, someone who will give attention and allow themselves to be controlled. Tendencies to be very giving of your attention would naturally attract a narcissist.
Colossians 3:23 talks about doing “as to the Lord, and not unto men.” If you are an easy going person in a relationship with a controller or possible narcissist, then I would like to offer that God may be asking you to take hold of Colossians 3:23. Read this verse and then ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I truly helping this person by going along with their way?
- What is God asking me to do in this situation?
- Am I surrendering my ways to this controlling person because I know that they’ll get upset if I go against their will? Do I call this peacemaking, and take pride in being the peacemaker?
- Do you see the errors of the narcissist and recognize that their controlling behavior actually shows great weakness, but you, for some reason, have never talked about it with them? If you answered yes, why haven’t you talked to them about this?
God may be asking you to stand strong in the promise of Colossians 3:23 and do things “as to the Lord and not unto men.” What would this look like in your life? It may look exactly the opposite of what you are currently doing.
In a wonderful devotional entitled “Christ Triumphant” the following counsel is given:
“We are not one of us safe, even with past experience, unless we live as seeing Him who is invisible. Daily, hourly, we must be actuated by the principles of Bible truth—righteousness, mercy, and the love of God. Any person who would have moral and intellectual power must draw from the Divine Source.
“At every point and decision inquire, Is this the way of the Lord? With your Bibles open before you, consult sanctified reason and a good conscience. Your heart must be moved, your soul touched, your reason and intellect awakened by the Spirit of God. The holy principles laid down in His Word will give light to the soul. I tell you . . . our true source of wisdom and virtue and power is in the cross of Calvary. Christ is the Author and Finisher of our faith. He says, “Without me ye can do nothing.” Jesus is the only sure guarantee for intellectual success and advancement.” Christ Triumphant p.124
Recognize that you may not be helping the controller by always surrendering to their wants. You may have been surrendering to the controller, not because you were meek and lowly, but because you were scared and fearful of standing up to someone that was so set on being in control or in the spot light. When your relationship with Jesus Christ grows, He may ask you to do things that you never thought to do before. Do things as to the Lord and not unto men.
At one time I was involved in a friendship with a person who I believe has narcissistic traits. This controlling person was very personable, outgoing and happy. You would not necessarily look at him as a controlling person. He was a “friendly neighbor” sort of person. This person loved to read the Bible and loved to talk about the Bible. This person looked to keep the Sabbath day holy and in many ways gave evidence of being a true Christian. For a number of years our friendship seemed great.
One day I recognized a strong call from the Lord to tell my friend a few words that would literally turn the friendship upside down. These words were based on Colossians 3:23, and I spoke words to my friend as to the Lord and not unto men. The words that I was impressed to tell my friend were simply:
“Brother, I’m looking at this situation from the perspective of me helping you.”
These words initiated a change in my relationship with my friend. Saying these words to him caused a reaction from him and revealed to me how my friend was viewing our relationship. He fought these words. My friend was the leader in our friendship from the start and I believe these words were not in harmony with his idea of my position in the relationship. These words initiated a conversation that eventually led me to clearly see the narcissistic traits in my friend which I had never recognized before.
Deal with narcissism by first dealing with yourself. Grow in Christ and do things as unto the Lord and not unto men. Commune with your heavenly Father and ask him if there is anything that you need to do that you may not be doing. Remember that Ecclesiastes says there is a time for everything. Ask your heavenly Father what is it time for today? This leads to the next passage of scripture to help you go forward in the narcissistic relationship you may be involved in:
3. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
What time is it today in your relationship with the narcissistic controller in your life? Is it a time to keep silent or is it a time to speak? Once I became aware that there were control issues in our friendship, and for over two years I had enabled these issues in many ways by being overly passive and silent, I began to do things differently as unto the Lord and not unto men. First, I started speaking. After telling him that “I’m looking at this situation from the perspective of me helping you,” I began emailing my friend my personal thoughts in regards to our relationship. I began to write how I felt controlled and how I wanted to talk about this subject with him.
As soon as I began to bring up this topic of control, I was met with resistance. He gave me his evidence why I was wrong to think of him as a controlling person. The interesting thing is that while he was talking about how he was not a controlling person, I felt no freedom. I could not pinpoint the problem while he was talking with me but after our conversation, and while alone and away from my friend, I would write an email to him of my daily experience with him. I was very open, honest and candid. God was impressing me that it was time to speak to him and be very open about how I was feeling controlled. I was being vulnerable to him and I knew he might use it against me. I wanted to test how he would react to me. My emails caused him to try and provoke me with side issues instead of staying on the topic of how I felt controlled. I felt he didn’t want to talk or acknowledge the control and kept the conversation away from that topic. Instead of having an open discussion on why I felt I was being controlled he talked about:
- My approach in how I brought up this subject of control to him;
- Whether someone was influencing me to bring this topic up for discussion;
- Cautioning me not to be forceful or assertive with him;
- Another Bible subject that he brought up;
- His irritation because of the emails I sent him, he demanded that I talk in person.
I am not suggesting that this is the exact way you are to handle your relationship, as our heavenly Father may suggest to you to do something entirely different. Being very open and candid with my friend brought me hurt. Subtle jabs were given that look harmless in an email or a text, but were very painful when you knew the full context of our relationship. Even though it hurt me, I believe God led me to do this so that I could clearly see the problem in our relationship. I praise God for the clarity.
When at all possible, I do recommend using email or texting if you begin to communicate about any narcissistic traits to your friend. I found that verbally talking with my friend was very difficult. He spoke fast and I could not process what he was saying as he said it. I had no freedom to think or talk freely. At the end of the conversation I didn’t know what to say. He felt he proved his case, but I just left feeling oppressed. All I knew was that there was something wrong about the conversation. My gut told me something was not right. I’ve heard that our gut is like a second brain and that it would be well for us to listen to it. Interestingly enough this friend declared to me that he preferred to talk and not use email because he felt talking was a better way to communicate. Ask your heavenly Father what way you should converse with your friend if you are thinking to communicate with him or her.
As I experienced how this person responded to my request to talk about control in the relationship, I saw that there was nothing I would be able to say to convince him that there were problems of control in our relationship, even though every response that I received from him demonstrated to me that there was a control problem. As I was praying about what to do next, the still small voice said, “This is not your battle but God’s, and I don’t have to say anything more.” After being very open and communicative for the first part of the communication, I then followed Ecclesiastes chapter 3 where it says there is “a time to keep silence.”
My silence resulted in my friend texting, emailing and leaving voicemails for the next 2-3 weeks. His communication to me was belittling and, in an ever-so-subtle way, controlling. I did not reply to any of his communications during this time. For example, I wanted to talk about the subject of control with him and desired to have him respond to my emails but he was not addressing my concerns. It was only when I stopped communicating with him that he said that he was open to start going through the emails from the start. His engagement seemed very open and willing, but I believe it was only him trying to get me back into a conversation with him so he could regain control. Why do I think that? Because he didn’t actually respond to the concerns in my emails. This person didn’t need me to respond to the emails, but he was using my emails as a way to get me to talk to him. I truly believe people involved in narcissistic or controlling relationships will understand what I am talking about. Other’s who have never experienced a person like this may not understand, but that’s okay. The important part is that God says there is a time for silence.
I praise God for Ecclesiastes chapter 3. Our heavenly Father can give you the wisdom you need to relate to your controlling friend.
Jesus himself kept silent when the chief priests were accusing him:
And the chief priests accused him of many things: but he answered nothing. And Pilate asked him again, saying, Answerest thou nothing? behold how many things they witness against thee. But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marvelled. Mark 15:3-5
As I continued to be silent, I recognized that it was time to take another step in the relationship. It was time to walk away from the relationship. This leads me to the next scripture verse that helped me with my controlling Seventh-day Adventist friend:
4. This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 2 Timothy 3:1-5
Narcissists and controlling people come to others with a deep need for attention and admiration. This connects with 2 Timothy 3:1-5 where it says that “men shall be lovers of their own selves.” This Bible verse says there are certain people we need to turn away from. There is wisdom and love in this counsel.
Are you a friend of a narcissist? Please know that you may not be the person that needs to convince him or her to turn away from their wickedness. It may not be your job to reform them. Even if you don’t know anyone else who is going to help them, it doesn’t mean that it’s your job to reform them. Does 2 Timothy 3:1-5 say that I need to stay in close proximity to people with these characteristics? No. Paul is very clear when he states “from such turn away.” I was impressed to go “no contact” with my friend who was controlling. After 2-3 weeks of being silent and seeing absolutely no signs of improvement I wrote an email to this person with these words:
[Full name of my friend]
It’s over. Effective immediately, please do not call me, text me, email me or visit me.
p.s. Please do not respond to this email.
One who has never experienced a narcissistic relationship may think that the friendship would be now completely over because the communication was very clear. Was that the end of the story? No.
The next part of the story reminds me of the “hits” that Jesus took from the chief priests, elders and scribes. This passage of scripture is valuable to those who may be called to go against the desires of a narcissistic person:
5. Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death. And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him, Prophesy: and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands.
Sometimes when you leave a controlling relationship you will have to take a few “hits,” and I don’t mean physical hitting. As I began to distance myself more and more from the unhealthy friendship, the subtle verbal attacks hurt me. The communication that my controlling friend gave me during my moments of silence were hard to take without responding to them. He wanted me to talk and he tried to “push my buttons.” He tried to agitate me to get me to communicate with him and break the silence that God had impressed me to have. There were many times when I personally wanted to defend myself. I wanted to show him that he was taking things out of context, but I could not. God said keep silent.
Looking back I praise the Lord for the strength that he gave me through this time. I lost the argument with my friend, in a sense, because I wouldn’t defend myself. A person needs to be willing to take a hit and leave the relationship. If I would’ve responded to him during my times of silence it would have brought me back under his control. I decided to change my phone number in case he tried to call me. Do you think I was over reacting? I wasn’t. How do I know? The reason why I say this is because he emailed me after I communicated to him that I didn’t want him to email me. I share this with you because if you are impressed to begin distancing yourself from a narcissistic or controlling Adventist relationship you may have to take a few hits as you leave. Your boundaries may be crossed even after you explicitly state them.
In closing I would like to give you encouragement in dealing with your narcissistic relationship in a scriptural way:
6. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:13
Doing things as unto the Lord and not unto men can be challenging and intense. Many times you may ask yourself, “Is it worth it?” It has been for me. God has strengthened me through this experience. I was lacking in hearing God’s voice speaking to me personally through His word. I was more inclined in many ways to hear man’s voice speaking to me instead of God’s voice. You can do all things through Christ which strengthens you. God can give you strength including:
- Growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ;
- Doing things as unto the Lord and not unto men;
- Speaking and being silent at the right time;
- Turning away from someone that Paul was referring to in 2 Timothy 3:1-5;
- Taking a hit as you leave the relationship.
The last passage of scripture that I would like to leave for the person in a narcissistic or controlling relationship is from Christ himself:
7. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. Matthew 5:10-12
Jesus has told us that there is a blessing in persecution for righteousness sake. As I followed the following scriptures, I suffered persecution from my friend. There is a blessing in being persecuted for right doing. You are welcome to visit our post on persecution. Writing this post to you could even cause more persecution, but I truly can rejoice. If there is one single person that may have been helped by this post then the persecution will be worth it.
God bless everyone of you as you look to God to help you in all your relationships.