Friday, February 23, 2007

Mike Yaconelli on Ego Addiction

I have an addiction.
It's called 'ego addiction.'
It means that I spend most of my waking hours worrying about whether people like me, agree with me, understand me, care about me, want me, respect me, admire me, listen to me. It means that I am dominated by my ego, possessed by it, controlled by it. It means that my vision, my hearing, my understanding must all pass through the filter of my ego.
Not very flattering.
A friend of mine pointed it out. He suggested that one of the symptoms of my ego addiction is 'attachment.' I had never heard that term before in this context. He explained, 'I heard a speaker once who told the audience before he started, If, during my talk, you find yourself disagreeing with my comments or angry or bored and want to leave, go ahead, I am not attached to my comments.'"
"Attached to my comments." Wow! Those words went off like a bombshell in my mind. It was one of those "aha's" of life. I recognized myself in those comments because that is exactly what I do. I attach myself to my words, to my actions, to my children, my job, my faith. If you don't agree with what I say, I take it personally. If you walk out during my talk, it must be something I said. If you miss a Sunday or two at my church, I must have offended you, you don't like me, my theology is not acceptable....
...Mix a good dose of ego addiction with Jesus, and the consequences are frightening. It causes ministers to build huge churches as a monument to their own ego, it causes people to go on television with their "unique ministry," which is another term for "my ministry." It causes people to write books, speak all over the world, abandon their families, their friends, and their neighborhoods so they can respond to the "great need"... which is really the need to be needed....
...How embarrassing it is to come to the third chapter of John. John's popularity was dropping off and Jesus' popularity was growing. Naturally, John's disciples were very upset. John calmed them down and then stunned them by whispering those magnificent words, "He must increase, I must decrease."...
...What if I took those words seriously, detached my ego from Jesus, and started following Him instead? What if I started worrying more about Jesus' reputation and less about my own? Maybe Mike would begin to disappear ... and Jesus would start appearing in my family, in my relationships, in my church ... even in this magazine."
Mike Yaconelli, "Ego Addiction," The Door Magazine, #125, October 1992.

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