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inferiority complex
Comparison to others seems to be a measure of our own self-worth / ©G.S. Matthews.Flickr

The man with the inferiority complex

In Saint Luke’s gospel (19, 1-10) we read about Zacchaeus. He is the chief tax collector and a very wealthy man. However, he is also a very short man. In his day, people used to laugh at people with handicaps.

Zacchaeus must have had a tough life as a youngster. He was never good enough. He wanted to get even so he sold his soul to the occupying Roman government and became a tax collector. No self- respecting citizen of Israel would ever co-operate with the Romans. They were the enemy. That is why tax collectors were generally hated by the people. Zacchaeus was good at it. He took more than he had to as it seems all tax collectors did. He became very rich, had a huge house, and became the chief tax collector.

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People laughed at him. He got even. All motivated by his inferiority complex.

Some psychiatrists suggest that very many people suffer from an inferiority complex even without recognizing it. The reason for this is that we spend a lot of time comparing ourselves to others. Parents compare their children to other children, to popular public figures, and others. Parents compare one child

to a brother or sister or even a friend. Comparison to others seems to be a measure of our own self-worth or a sense of success. But in reality, there is no need to compare ourselves to others. We are not inferior or superior to anyone. God created each of us as children of God. Each of us is unique and has responsibilities to God. We do not judge others or ourselves. We leave that to God.

we spend a lot of time comparing ourselves to others. Parents compare their children to other children, to popular public figures, and others. Parents compare one child

There is a difference between inferiority and humility. Inferiority is self-destructive. Humility, on the other hand, is positive and is the truth about ourselves. Humility asks us to know God and to compare ourselves to that will.

Zacchaeus met Jesus and became humble. He saw the whole truth about humility. He acknowledges that he used to be a thief. The Grace of God changes him. He now says that “I give half my belongings to the poor. If I defrauded anyone, I’ll pay him back four fold”. (Luke 19, 8-9)

Jesus recognizes the conversion and tells him. “Today salvation has come to his house for this. This is what it means to be a son of Abraham.” (Luke 19, 9)

Humility (the truth) is the key to finding God and to have him come to our house. We can now say “Our Father”.  Saint Paul (1 Cor 3:16) tells us we are also temples of the Holy Spirit and that God’s Spirit lives in us.

The Good News is that Jesus Christ “has come to search out and save what was lost”. (Luke 19, 10) There is no one who is outside God’s love and grace.

Bishop Peter Stasiuk C.Ss.R. AM

This article was published in The Church and Life Newspaper, July 2017.

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