Have you ever met a King (or Queen) Baby in the church? Sigmund Freud coined the concept of “King Baby” in a 1914 paper on narcissism. Narcissism is an excessive interest in one’s self with a lack of empathy for others. There is even a Narcissistic Personality Disorder which is almost impossible to treat because the person who has it thinks it is a good thing. We see a lot of narcissism in the world today, and I’m sure a certain politician comes to mind pretty quickly.
But politics isn’t the only place you will find King Baby. The Bible is another place that explores the problems of narcissism. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:11: “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” We are supposed to become adults in our faith instead of staying babies. But too many people decide to stay babies in their faith forever.
What distinguishes a King Baby from an adult in Christ? Again, 1 Corinthians 13 gives us clues when it talks about love. The love of an adult in Christ “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Contrary to what some people believe, this doesn’t make an adult in Christ a doormat – it makes them an adult in their faith.
An adult learns to put others before themselves. When you have children, their needs come before your own. If your baby cries in the middle of the night, you get up to feed or change them, even if you are exhausted. An adult will sacrifice present pleasure for a deferred result. As Christians we say no to some human desires in order to say yes to God’s gift of eternal life.
Adults in Christ do not have temper tantrums when they don’t get their own way. An adult has empathy for others and can put themselves in the place of others. An adult accepts correction and sees it as a way to grow. Only a child insists that he or she is always right and resents someone’s authority to set limits on behavior. A child wants his or her own way. An adult accepts that our ways may not be God’s ways – and we would prefer to go God’s way. A child is impulsive. An adult is disciplined.
So what are you? Are you King Baby or are you an adult in Christ? You might answer, “I’m growing in Christ, but I’m not an adult yet.” In which case you might be the most adult of all, because you know that you still have a ways to go.
Don’t get stuck in diapers. Pull up your adult pants and get to work on growing into the person God wants you to be. We want to be children of the King, not the kings ourselves.