The “Prophet-Martyr” Complex

Now as much as I love truth-telling and truth-tellers in general there is a downside pity party we must resist falling into:
It's the PROPHET-MARTYR SYNDROME!!!
*Collective Gasp!*
Now what is it exactly that is so dangerous and terrible about this mental complex? Well, the truth-tellers who catch it have several consistent characteristics:
Commonality #1. Truth-Tellers have a Passion for Truth-Telling
This is actually quite admirable. We have plenty too many folk in the world who are ok with working the system and maybe telling a couple little white lies. I personally have come to prefer the soul-sanding painful awkwardness of integrity because when I live faithfully in the small details I see God move lightly on my behalf. I'm not gonna trade that blessing for any temporal discount which may only be worth a Starbucks drink (Even though I do love that new caramel flan... ooh that is good stuff!)
Commonality #2. Truth-Tellers Make Others Uncomfortable
I'm expecting my white lie audience to silently agree. There is a myriad of responses this can engender but among the immature there arises behavior which may irritate the truth-teller in passive aggressive or outright persecutory ways. This also applies to "truth-livers" - people who live the truth so well that even their silent integrity makes others uncomfortable. Not because of any actions on their own - but their example combined with the whisperings of the Holy Spirit.
Commonality #3. Truth-Tellers Hurt Too
I know it may surprise some of you and while it definitely depends on the person, truth-tellers are just as susceptible to hurt feelings as anyone else. Now hopefully the truth-teller has been speaking in love because this is a very crucial turning point:
Where does the truth-teller go to ease their hurt?
If they've been speaking the "Truth in Love" as I've written about it my previous posts then their hurt is the justified result of obedience.
Everyone loves the "I know the plans I have for you" verse but no one wants to be Jeremiah.
Why does this matter? Well, Jeremiah got death threats. Jeremiah was thrown in the bottom of a muddy well and kept there. Jeremiah had a miserable life persecuted by the people he spoke the truth to. Why? Because they didn't want to hear it. Now I'd like to say I read up on Jeremiah and give you some classy example of my biblical-ness. But I haven't read up and I'm thumbing this out at 3 in the morning so here's a toast for procrastination. (UPDATE: I have now read Jeremiah.) Jeremiah was known as "the weeping prophet." Why? Because no one listened and Jeremiah never saw change within his lifetime. While he may have been the weeping prophet, God did not allow him to have pity parties. My theory goes like this:
He wept for those he spoke to more than his own hurt.
When we get our eyes on ourselves we think too highly of our own pain.
"The Prophet-Martyr Syndrome" occurs when we as truth-tellers get our eyes off the end goal - the big prize of heaven and fulfilling God's plan for us here - with the inconveniences of being God's servant.
Conversely, servanthood is freeing.
Servanthood: when you do what God tells you when He tells you to do it, the way He tells you to do it and the consequences are on Him.
As obedient servants, we become the Master's responsibility. And at the end of the day we are only promised our daily bread and treasure in heaven. Will we choose to be content with that? Or will we demand our rights? And what are our rights anyways? (Quick reminder: all of us deserve hell.)
It is by grace you have been saved through faith --and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--  not by works, so that no one can boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (Emphasis mine)

Let us live rightly, speaking the truth in love for the healing and freedom of our fellow man. And when hearers disregard, let our eyes be fixed of Jesus "the author and finisher of our faith."
Pin Cushion by Vivianna Arroyo

Time to go love people.


Share this post on Facebook and Twitter

  • FaithInHonesty

    “Truth-Tellers Hurt Too”

    As you say, the truth ought always to be spoken in love, but as we know, this doesn’t always happen, even for people who make it their goal. If you will, let’s look at a specific example with two people, person A and person B, both of whom desire to speak the truth in love.

    Suppose that person A offers some truth (at least, what they think is truth) to person B, but it isn’t given with enough love. As I see it, the ideal outcome would be for person B to still graciously accept the truth (inasmuch as it is truth), but then return the favor in the right way, by lovingly (i.e. without accusation) talking to person A (perhaps at a later time) about the importance of truth being given in love. Person A, being someone who desires to give truth in love, will see that he (or she) wasn’t being loving enough and will gladly accept the truth from person B. Again, this is my idea of the ideal, and there’s nothing to say that any part of it is easy.

    Now, outside of the ideal, person B may take offense and respond with regretful words (or say nothing at all), in which case we now have two people who have not acted with enough love, both feeling hurt, perhaps one more than the other. It’s hard to say which person acted with less love, but of course, this isn’t a game where we keep track of points. All we know for certain is that we have two wrongs and not enough love.

    So, now that I’ve given that example, along with my opinion, I make no request, but I will say that I’d certainly appreciate it if you’d tell me if (and where) you disagree with, or would add to, what I’ve said (in your own good time and in as few words as you see fit). I’d appreciate it even more if you’ll tell me if I ever say something that is without enough love. I’m a bit of an odd one. When I know that someone truly cares, I prefer them to be very forthright with me. I like getting straight to the source of the problem. Very often, I think it’s other people who see our flaws much more readily than we do, and I’m thankful for anything given that will help and encourage me to be a more loving person. I’m always willing.

    Very good read. I’m off now to go love me some people. :-)

    P.S.

    On a completely unrelated note, I’d like to complement whoever (you?) took the picture that you have on your “Hello New Friend!” page. Not only is it wonderfully composed, but the “crazy hair” is in all the right places. I get to wondering, are you trying to rob the world of solid butter? ^_^

  • “He wept for those he spoke to more than his own hurt.” Yes. Thank you for this insight.

  • Well said. I was going to quote the same quote as Brian Jennings did. Keep up the good work.