Guest post by the Rev. Paul A. Johnson
We sometimes claim that we have difficulty working with someone because they have a big ego. What we mean by that is often unclear.
We seldom notice when our ego gets in the way of our conversations and relationships.
It is difficult to define what “ego” is; however, we can more easily speak about the purpose of our ego.
The purpose of our ego is to
• Be right and make others wrong.
• Win and not lose.
• Invalidate others and avoid being invalidated.
• Avoid intimacy.
When another person is displaying what we consider a big ego, we can choose to engage our own ego. That produces confrontation, conflict and fighting.
We can choose to avoid the person. That may invite resentment and often means that differences remain unresolved.
We can carefully monitor our own ego
and shift the context and conversation. We can decline the implicit invitation to fight. That will not be easy because, for many of us, engaging our ego has become a long-standing habit. But think about how our life and our community would be different if we made civility our habit instead.
Paul Johnson is the interim pastor at Ames United Church of Christ-Congregational.