A Dangerous But Necessary Road

Posted by on Nov 7, 2012 in Gary, Uncategorized | 11 comments

I recently overheard a conversation between two men.  One said, “The strong rule the weak.  That’s how your God made the world.”  The other responded, “God makes us strong only for a while, so that we can help each other.”  To which the first man responded, “My God makes me strong so I can live my life.”

This conversation was in a movie I re-watched called First Knight, the King Arthur and Camelot story.  The first and last man to be quoted was Malagant, the fallen knight from Arthur’s Round Table.

Malagant captured in a sentence the general belief of the era that we are living in – “My God makes me strong so I can live my life.”   In a word this belief can be described as narcissism – and is defined as excessive self-admiration and self-centeredness.

Erwin McManus wrote in his book Stand Against the Wind, “When we are in love with ourselves, we are prone to listen only to what we want to hear.  We become willing to trade insight for affirmation.  We want to feel good about ourselves more than we want to become good.”

The pursuit of God and our calling is through the restoration and release of our heart.  It is desire, not duty; passion, not passivity that leads and compel us in this pursuit.  And yet on this narrow road of desire and passion, we are exposed to the deadly sheer drop-offs of self-centeredness.

To travel this essential road, we must build guard rails – structures that will save our life when we are too close to the edge, but may feel damaging when we encounter them.

Often our guard rails are the words of our friends.

“The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.” (Prov. 20:5 NIV)  A person who will do this for us, reveal the purposes of our heart, is a true friend.  “The slap of a friend (encountering a guard rail) can be trusted to help you, but the kisses of an enemy are nothing but lies.” (Prov. 27:6 NCV)

By its very nature, self-centeredness is blind to its own condition – it is not self-disclosing.  It must be revealed by another.

God has made us strong (given us splendor, brilliance, weightiness) not so we might live, but so that others might live.  God has given us life and glory that we might offer it to another and therefore both experience life.

“Under [Christ’s] direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. (Eph. 4:16 NLT)

Malagant was once a noble man who lived by the dictum inscribed on King Arthur’s round table, “In serving each other, we become free.”  In his freedom, he plunged into narcissism with the creed, “My God makes me strong so I can live my life.”

What is inscribed on your table?  By what creed do you live?  Do you sit alone or in the company of others?  Is your table round, “no head, not foot, all equal”, or rectangular with distance and distinctions?  Perhaps we can honestly answer these questions.  Perhaps we cannot and only a friend can see us clearly.  As Leo Tolstoy said, “We perceive others by their behaviour and ourselves by our intentions.”  Our intentions can be very different than our behavior; our behavior usually reveals what is truly in our heart.

Let us put into place and honor the guard rails needed on this essential road of desire and passion as we “Delight [our self] in the Lord and He [gives us] the desires of [our] heart. (Psa. 37:4).

Delighted to be in your company at the King’s round table,



11 Responses to “A Dangerous But Necessary Road”

  1. The question is when do we draw the deep waters from within our friends? If their heart is not ready then the message is not well received, but at the same time I tend to be more introverted and struggle with speaking into someones life especially if it is not requested of me.

    I wonder if the insight we are given into someone’s life is more to reveal something of our own heart first. I have found that the areas of my heart I refuse to see are easily seen in someone else, in which case I believe God would have me “clean the inside of my cup” first before sharing with another.

    Thanks for your insights, Gary. This was a timely message.

    • Russell, great thoughts. I have spoke when I shouldn’t have and stayed silent when I shouldn’t have. I’m trying to be more mindful of my motive for speaking or silence. I love your idea of first going to, “God, what are you revealing about my own heart right now?”

  2. so what about the flip side, weakness? Is it not also narcissistic for someone who finds purpose, passion and life so elusive, to desire life purpose and passion??? Can the pursuit of “calling” result in self-centeredness???

    • Randy Luce says:

      Mark, and very easily, if we see it as only or primarily for ourselves….to make our lives better.

    • Mark, I believe that it is in the heart every human being to want to find there purpose – because we were created to fulfill a purpose. But, I think we can make this pursuit solely about our happiness and fulfillment and not about what our life has to offer to others and our relationship with God…and that is self-centeredness.

  3. Jeff Andrechyn says:

    This was so rich that I had to read it twice and will probably read it twice more. You are an interpreter who can carry us to the deep waters of our heart. So glad the Captain’s table on your ship is round… its helped me find my voice.

  4. That was a fresh and insightful post for me Gary. Thanks for sharing those thoughts. I find that when I am just trying my best to survive I start to think more like Malagant, that I just want Jesus to finally ‘make me strong’ so that I can handle everything that comes my way. It doesn’t feel narcissistic at the time, yet in truth that’s what it becomes. I lose the joy of wanting a glory for others. This post has helped restore that. Thanks Gary,


  5. Gary,

    This is really good. I love your image of guard rails that we need, and that in their protecting us, they sometimes can hurt.

    May we all have true friends who will encourage us to walk the path, and will be guard rails to keep us from falling off the path.


  6. Love that guard rails thing and as we all know, guarding your heart is many times easier said than done. To have a trusted friend on the journey is such a blessing. And being a trusted friend is just as important.

    “The slap of a friend (encountering a guard rail) can be trusted to help you, but the kisses of an enemy are nothing but lies.” (Prov. 27:6 NCV)

  7. That Tolstoy quote is a great reality check.

    I like your “guardrail” metaphor as well…sounds like a good title for your next book.

  8. Craig Parker says:

    Yes Gary
    I’m glad you made reference to the pitfall of treating persuit of calling as a selfish thing. I approached my Vicar about the subject of pursuing a calling course and his immediate focus went to my relationship with my wife concluding with the comment of are you not persuing calling as a way of compensating for your marriage. I remember walking away from that meeting wondering if that was the case (a real guide rail comment- given in love but like a good strong cup of coffee )


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