Narcissism derives its origins from Narcissus, a young man in Greek mythology, who fell in love with his own image in a pool. Narcissism is therefore an excessive preoccupation with one’s self. It shows itself in three primary ways: self centeredness characterised by the cry to “look out for number one” and the belief that life is “all about me”; self worth, in which people seek to prove their worth through achievement, and self love apparent through a prideful preoccupation with appearance and what others think of us.
The young people we work with are a narcissistic generation. If you need convincing of this look no further than social networking where many write as much about themselves as possible to as many “friends” as possible and hope for as many “likes” as possible, all to be reassured of their worth.
How do we do effective ministry to a narcissistic generation? Again it is a matter of balance. On the one hand we seek to let every young person whom we come in contact with know that they are a person of unique value. We show an interest in even the smallest matters of their lives and offer assistance to them as they navigate the difficulties they face.
Yet at the same time we create opportunities for young people to put others at the centre of their world and to discover the joy that comes in “loving others as we love ourselves”.
Excerpt from our booklet “Effective Youth Ministry”