Inferiority and superiority complexes, or feeling that you are either worse or better than others, have been the cause of all kinds of evil in this world since the beginning of time. (James 3:16.) Overcoming these complexes may not be easy, but in God’s word we find solutions!
Why is an inferiority complex so dangerous? Because then you are bound by what people think. You have no freedom to be yourself, and do not have any boldness to do the things that God has given you to do. You come out of the freedom that is in Christ. And a superiority complex makes you treat others as if they are worthless because in your eyes they are below you.
Clearly this is not how God wants it to be.
Overcoming an inferiority complex or a superiority complex
To overcome an inferiority complex or a superiority complex, we need to know where they come from.
Tielman Slabbert has recently spoken a lot about this topic. Both inferiority and superiority complexes come from looking up to something that you think is “great”. Either you feel that you lack something that you think is great, or you think you are better because you have something “great”. This may sound too simple, but it makes a lot of sense.
Why would you feel inferior to someone? Because you feel like they are more clever or more better-looking; you feel that their money gives them an advantage, or that their gifts and talents somehow make them better than yourself. And also the other way around. If you believe that you are more successful or come from a better background, that your way of doing things is more correct, etc., then you will feel you are better than someone else. It can be hard to admit that, but if you look carefully at yourself, you may find it’s true.
But the truth is that these things are only “great” in the eyes of people. They actually mean nothing in the eyes of God – things you will never find in the Bible. Society and culture have fooled us into thinking that these things are great, and we have been trained to believe that, more than we believe the word of God.
The world looks up to things like money, beauty, education, a high position. But Jesus said, “… what is highly esteemed [admired] among men is an abomination [a terrible evil] in the sight of God.” Luke 16:15. So God hates these things. That really helps us to see things in the right way. These things give a person no extra value from God’s point of view; it is actually the opposite, He hates it when you “admire” these things and look up to people who have them, or look down to people who don’t have them! God has a totally different way of measuring what is important.
What does have value for God?
You only have to look at His word to find out what God thinks is great. In Galatians 5, for example, Paul writes about the fruit of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23. And in 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV): “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” And: “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8. Taking time to read the word of God opens your eyes to the things that have true, eternal value.
Then you also see very quickly where your lacks are. In truth, human nature is the opposite of God’s word. But it is also written there that “I can do all things through Christ because He gives me strength,” and that “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it.” So if you really want these fruits of the Spirit, then God will show you the way to get them. (Philippians 4:13 (NCV); Philippians 1:6.)
When you start to see where your human nature is not the same as God’s word, then this is the Spirit working in you, speaking to you about “transformation”. Transformation is the process by which your sinful human nature can be changed to godly nature. Then you must be humble and admit the truth and agree with what the Spirit shows you. This humility is not "feeling worthless or hopeless", but instead, it is that you are willing to be obedient to His leading and willing to deny your own will so that His will can be done through you! When you, for example, don’t give in to jealousy, you learn to be thankful instead. It works the same in all areas. You can change from being full of worry and unbelief to having full faith and trust in God. From being full of pride and boasting, to being humble and kind. This is a “transforming” work that God does in you when you are willing and obedient. (Philippians 2:13.)
Seeing people through God’s eyes
Then you will learn to see people through God’s eyes. No more looking down on people because you think you are better than them or looking up to people because you think you are worth less than them. You learn to look at them with love, patience, kindness, etc. God made everyone, also yourself, to be like Himself! You can’t look down on what God has created to be like Himself! Then, you can even begin to look at yourself from God’s point of view as well! You begin to see your true value.
“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:1-2.
These verses are actually the key. If your thoughts are in the “things above”, then all those things that people think are “great” are revealed as useless compared to the glory of getting what has eternal value. Then you’re not jealous of others or frightened by them, nor do you look down on anyone. Because you know that God has put you in this life with just the right situations, abilities, and circumstances that will help you to become a “new creation”, where your human nature is step by step transformed to a godly nature, where you have the fruits of the Spirit. And you don’t need more than that.
“As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation.” Galatians 6:14-15 (NLT).