Jerk: a contemptibly naive, fatuous, foolish, or inconsequential person. I am one. How do I know? I know because in my life I have struggled with the feeling of betrayal. I think I have authentically experienced it. I think that I sometimes read different situations and think that betrayal is happening when it is not. However, when I face the pain of betrayal or even the perceived pain of betrayal I become a jerk.
Dan Allender in Leading With a Limp provides what I call the “Matrix of Brokenness”. You can find it here. Regarding the issue of betrayal Allender argues that narcissism is the negative response. Where does this narcissistic response come from? It comes from envy (96). Envy grabs you and you respond with a narcissism that is ugly, in short, you become a jerk.
When I read that and thought about it I was not sure if I agreed with this idea or not. However, as I pondered a time over the last few years when I felt betrayed, my evaluation led me to the realization that my initial response was indeed narcissistic and was indeed narcissistic and fueled by envy.
I was being evaluated for a leadership position that was being vacated by another person. I had been in a similar leadership a few years before and in my estimation this would be a formality. However, it turned out to be one of the most painful experiences I have endured. I did not get the position. I did, however, receive a large list of things that I was failing at in ministry, relationships, and perceived in my walk with God. This list was delivered with the tact and grace of a sledge hammer. Nonetheless, the evaluation was accurate in many ways. My initial response was anger and a sense of betrayal. I wanted answers. I wanted to quit. I stopped relating to God and turned inward. I was so wrapped up in my own sense of self-confident awesomeness that I could not see how this was God’s hand calling me to a new level and season of development.
I would not have admitted it then but I was envious of whoever would take on the role that I was passed over for. In my mind this role was an amazing place to serve and lead. From this role a leader would have influence regionally and nationally within the organization. I was envious that it would not be me. There was not anyone in place to take the role and this envy turned to an ever deepening narcissism. Clearly God needed to teach me.
He has. He is. I am still learning this lesson. I am learning how to respond to all this. I am learning that often my perception of “betrayal” is nothing more than God using people to move me away from my self-centeredness. This is why the appropriate response to betrayal is gratitude. I need to be thankful that I have the opportunity to grow closer and to enter more deeply into reliance on God.
I am a jerk. But I am not as much of a jerk as I used to be.