God Is Self-centered. Does that Make You Uncomfortable?

Over time, we all create a painting in our heads. It’s a painting called “How Things Are.”  We are very sure of these paintings and keep them front-and-center. They are beautiful and took time to create and most importantly, they are correct. Or so we think. But as we learn and grow and mature, we reluctantly throw out the old “How Things Are” and begin painting a new one. All that work for nothing.

This is what this blog series has begun to force me to do, a lot of repainting (or flat out burning) specifically in the area of my thoughts on God’s glory and sovereignty. I shared a bit of this in the post that started this whole series here. And surprise! This topic has themed its way into my 2011.

The question of only loving God because of what He does for me rather than who He is connects to the question I and others were asked by a speaker I listened to last week: Why does the idea of God wanting to glorify himself make us squirm in our seats? As we squirmed, he continued probing, “Does God desire God’s glory more than He desires us? Why does He seek His own praise above all else? Is this bothering you? Why is this bothering you?” And the pieces of my little self-made theories began to drop to the floor. And my beautiful “How Things Are” once again appeared ridiculous.

When you read the Bible, you read the word “glory” many times and it is always God’s glory. And when you keep reading the Bible, it turns out the whole point is His glory. Sounds rudimentary, I know, but to realize God’s chief aim is to be praised and not to be sure I am ok and am successful and joyful and on the right path, well, that has been difficult for me. I squirmed as I heard about–what John Piper calls–God’s God-centeredness and realized I was squirming out of my own self-centeredness.

His chief aim is not us; his chief aim is himself. And that sounds selfish and vain, but only because we are selfish and vain.

I have an incredibly difficult task before me now: to realize once and for all that this world is not about me. This life is not about me. My life is not about me. I am not about me.


  1. Peach on October 31, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    He created us in His image. He is self-centered. We are self-centered. But, the problem with us being self-centered compared to God is that He is perfect. He is holy. We are not.

    • keturah simpson on November 28, 2011 at 7:00 pm

      That’s so true and that’s why in our flesh we cannot fathom God-centredness!!

  2. willosgood on October 31, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Wow, this is really well-written and expressed at a heart level. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Lucas Carvalho on October 31, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    That does not bother me. As servants, that’s really our role: we are here to praise God and give Him all the glory. Knowing that God is “God-centered” does not make me question His character, since my measures of character do not apply to Him.

    Also, I am not in a position to feel uncomfortable with God’s decisions on His own glory. I simply accept it as a reality.

    • Lizard king on November 16, 2012 at 7:53 pm

      why do you call god a his? He is not a man or woman.

      • Allan Roach on November 8, 2023 at 12:15 pm

        God, in His wisdom has chosen to reveal himself as Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit. He has chose these words. In any contest between God and myself I have discovered God will win every time. Thus, as to gender revealing and such terms, God is my Father and his Son is my redeemer. So be it.

  4. Randi on October 31, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    I don’t think we should misinterpret “God’s glory” through our own lenses either…it is not vainglory. When He is concerned about His glory, He is concerned about sharing His nature with us…because we need it. Glorification is the revealing of oneself. He does not need our praise, but we need to praise Him.

  5. Xinjin on October 31, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    how is God self-centered when love is not self seeking. Please explain i’m confused

    • Corey on December 12, 2011 at 9:55 pm

      God is the greatest thing there is and as the greatest thing we are only truly satisfied in him and as his creation we were made for him, so our lives are truly fullfilled when we are truly satisfied in him and him alone, God cares about his glory and makes much of himself because he is the greatest thing there is nothing that compares with him. So were made for God to be satisfied in him and to live for him, when we are not we are not completely satisfied and our lives are in rebellion to him and are objects of his wrath therefore his “self-centerdness” is also for our salvation for unless we get that we will always be considered enemies of God

    • Allan Roach on November 8, 2023 at 2:29 pm

      Does self-centeredness exist in God?
      We don’t hear the terms “self-centre” or “self centeredness” when reading the scriptures. We may see what appears to be the results of traits like that when we see the flow of glory and praise are to go to Him from us, his creatures. Within himself, such attention provokes acts of love and selflessness to emanate toward his creatures. This is not at all what we see in human self-centeredness. Perhaps these examples help:
      Eg: When God receives glory He is caused to shine all the more on the creature offering Him the praise.
      When men receive glory they are like black holes that distort light (praise) and give back nothing.

      • Kristopher Smith on May 25, 2024 at 6:30 am

        Good word Allan, GREAT point!

  6. faizee bodha on October 31, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    Strangely enough it doesn’t bother me that God is self centered. Maybe I hope that because I’m accepting God’s self centred-ness (!), people will accept mine! Lol. I know it doesn’t work that way. I’m a little disgruntled though that the world does not revolve around me….if I cease to exist the world will not stop turning? Shocking! Horrifying! I’m not as important to the existence of the world as I thought I was. 🙂 I can live with that…..I hope….
    Great blog!

  7. munteng on October 31, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    what a thought provoking post. to be honest, since you put it that way, it does makes me feel uncomfortable. but Peach has a good point.
    don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems that even when God is placed in such a harsh perspective, He is still lovely.

  8. Rosel Gomez (@RosselG) on October 31, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    All is about him! He is amazing

  9. Debbie on October 31, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Yes, I agree (because this is what we see in scripture) God is “self-centred”. It does make me a little uncomfortable because this seems to suggest that God is vain/egotistical/selfish. Perhaps because if I am self-centred then I am those things. The “uncomfortable” comes I think because of the deception that God’s “self-centeredness” is the same as my self-centeredness. God’s word tells us that God is “…the rock, His works are perfect. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just in all His ways.” Deuteronomy 32:4. God was meant to be the center and focus of everything — I wasn’t. God’s self-centeredness is always good and ends in what is good. I should be rejoicing that while He deeply desires a close and intimate relationship with me AND I am His personal concern (so are you!) (1 Peter 5:7), HE is the centre of His focus because He is ALL good, ALL wise, ALL loving, ALL knowing….and that is the only way ALL good will ever be. When God is the centre. Could be that this makes me a little uncomfortable, too, because it means I have to adjust my focus a bit and make Him the centre — not self — of my life. Then again, that’s really the only way to experience true, deeply rich, abundant life.

  10. Sadaf Shah on October 31, 2011 at 11:42 pm

    Beautifully written article. A real food for thought!

  11. mary riddock on November 1, 2011 at 4:57 am

    I have been struggling with this very subject for some time now. Although ashamed to admit it, after fifty years of life and being a Christian, my rose tinted glasses have been forced off my face. I have tried everywhere to find books that may explain the God of the OT. The God that doesn’t come over as very loving at all. I do appreciate your writings today and very aptly timed. Thank you

  12. Jimmy Nelson on November 2, 2011 at 6:24 am

    Lucifer was a perfect angel until he loved himself more than God! Adam was a perfect man until he loved himself (Eve – “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh”) more than he loved God. Both were condemned to death. But “When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the Law, to redeem them that were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” We can receive all the goodness of God that we do not deserve because Jesus received all the bad that He did not deserve. The cross made all the difference. God the Father really, really, really loves His Son. And if I am “in Christ” then I am loved beyond my own understanding. “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not also FREELY give us all things?” These are God’s words. Check it out!

  13. Sunil Noronha on December 4, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    “His chief aim is not us; his chief aim is himself.
    And that sounds selfish and vain, but only
    because we are selfish and vain.”.

    If God was pre-occupied with himself, we are in a mess. Then heaven is a place where ego reigns. And if we are to be in a place where this ego is king, God has either planted in us genes that should make us simply worship him disregarding any self value of our own. But don’t we have any self value? If we didn’t, we wouldn’t want, desire or choose anything as a first choice. God wants walking zombies? You think?

  14. williams on December 30, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    God’s selfishness could be understood in terms of its inclusiveness.he made all things with himself as the centre,thus gravitating all towards himself.so that his pervasive love perfection and brilliance could dispensed into them.we ere most complete if we remain true such a course.

  15. Samantha on December 17, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    Reading through your “hard questions” series is extremely comforting and helpful, since I’m currently going through a season of asking difficult questions of myself, my faith, and my place in this world. Thank you for your vulnerability, honesty, and boldness! 🙂

    Last summer I read a book called “Disciple” by Bill Clem. It explained God’s “self-centeredness” as not self-serving at all – instead, the Father seeks to love and serve and glorify the Son and the Spirit, the Son seeks to love and serve and glorify the Father and the Spirit, and the Spirit seeks to love and serve and glorify the Son and the Father. It is the trinity that reveals God’s selfless nature rather than his “self-centeredness”.

  16. Richard on March 20, 2016 at 11:21 am

    God is selfish and self centre what s the point of making humanity, to suffer for his need, the problem with god he gave use freewill then want to take away our freedom, if you read genesis the reason cain killed abel, was because of god rejection of cain offering which lead to cain killing his brother, is that cain fault or god it both cain should have never killed abel, but god should have shown more mercy.

  17. Rani B on November 4, 2016 at 12:03 am

    Lovely article. I reached out exactly because I was feeling uncomfortable about this idea that God’s main thing is His Glory. My thoughts on it echo many mentioned here.
    1. We are his servants and his seeking after His Glory is the reality we accept because we had no way to choose too come here. He brought us here for his pleasure as do parents being children into the world.
    2. More importantly God is just awesome. We have that innate thing in us that naturally worships, reveres, glorifies that which is awesome. It could be described as just and natural that God wants to be glorified. It would be amiss for us the observers not to glorify that which is most awesome. This is a small unworthy comparison but does a talented singer keep his beautiful voice to himself? Or does he seek out an audience to share his talent with? And do his fans not thoroughly enjoy him or “worship” him in some sense? That is what God has done in creating us.
    3. The idea of giving praise to what is praiseworthy is not strange nor does it make us uncomfortable in the regular world. We notice the amazingness that is in this world so we naturally want to give praise. It would be amiss to give that glory to another but God or to not express it at all. God knows he is awesome. He made us to observe and glorify him for that. And he continues to demonstrate his awesomeness and that is called revelation. And it is great that we also thoroughly enjoy Him. It’s not that God seeking his glory is for our ultimate benefit. Sure it fulfills us but it’s not about us. That it’s a convoluted way of us being yet again self centered. God’s love to us is about us. Our glorifying God is about Him.
    4.Another thought is doesn’t a lover desire his beloved to love him back? God in making us and the world and blessing us and ultimately sending Jesus has poured out love and light on us. He desires it to be reciprocated. A lot of stories in the Bible make God arm egotistical but if you think he had already been the one to awe us and love us more than any other. Worship is now the response he is anticipating from us having already demonstrated his love and continuing to do so. It shows that we are being self centered or even idolatrous to not worship him.


  18. Angela on April 2, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    We are in rebellion if we don’t desire to worship God . He is the creator of the universe ! He put breath in our lungs . He sent his only son to to save the world . How dare we not honor and magnify him ! The Bible says unless you come as a little child and humble yourselves ….. you know the rest .

  19. Lisa Smith on August 19, 2021 at 8:54 am

    God explains what his glory is, and it is his goodness and care for us. REad the story of Moses. To depict him as self-centred is to do the work of Satan himself. The Protestant method of bible study is to get every text on a subject, and look at all the aspects/facets of what the bible says. Listening to preachers is not taking responsibility for your own bible study.

  20. Kenneth Gray on November 26, 2022 at 4:38 pm

    God self-centeredness is good but is the biggest problem in Christianity. The Bible teaches that God is for us “If God is for you who can be against you”. I have heard this countless times in my 42+ years as a Christian. Well the answer to that is that God is against you. If God does care, it’s only caring how we may glorify Him. Think about it. The Bible teaches that every bad thing we experience is for God’s glory. That everything works for good for those that love God. The part most Christians get wrong is that the good mentioned is for God alone. Not for our benefit. God promised to be here for us. But in reality God is only here for Himself. His glory, His benefit. I have come to believe that God doesn’t actually care about me, just Himself. I have never seen, heard, or felt anything from/of God in my life. All I get from God is “silence, absence, broken promises, and unanswered prayers”. To me that shows that God doesn’t care about me. If God loves me He would be interactive in my life. As is I feel neglected, ignored, and not loved by God. Oh but I am told to look at what God has done for me previously. There lies the rub. God has done nothing for me except torture me with silence, absence, broken promises, and unanswered prayers. God has done nothing in my life (time) that proves that He loves me. The Bible was thousands of years ago, not in my lifetime. Life isn’t a blessing when God is never involved (noticeably). God’s lack of involvement proves that He doesn’t care enough to be here for me. The more I read the Bible the more convinced I am that God is everything that He says we are not to be. God is cruel in His endless craving for His own glory. Thanks.

    God bless you, through the Holy Spirit, in Jesus holy name, Amen.

    • Hadassah Esther on September 18, 2023 at 11:48 am

      Ken, Ps 34:3-4 says I called to Jehovah and He answered, Jer 33:3 says call unto me and I will answer… if you are calling and not getting an answer it’s not because God has neglected you because Heb 13:5 says He will never leave you nor forsake you, Rom 8:32 says if He didn’t hold back Jesus from us what other good thing will He not give us through Jesus, why will He say ask Matt 7:7 and not want to give.
      There may be something you are not doing or not doing right, probably because you don’t have the right understanding and faith for it. I pray that The Holy Spirit( Who is God in us) will lead you to truth. God loves you enough to sacrifice His Son and fill you with Himself in the person of The Holy Spirit

      • Kenneth Gray on May 14, 2024 at 7:08 pm


        Thanks for your reply, it is appreciated. Sorry it has taken so long to respond. I have been seeking God for over43 years. Still haven’t found Him. He remains silent and absent. The Bible verses you quoted are good for those that God doesn’t ignore and neglect. Those whom God never does anything for they are useless. I have asked God for help with basically everything. Still nothing. I think that you don’t have the correct idea about what God gave Jesus for. The Bible teaches that God so loved the “world” that He gave His only begotten Son. It is written “world” not individuals. Its not on a personal level. The Bible also teaches that God has no respect for individuals. Matthew 7:7-8, seek and you shall find, ask and it will be given, knock and it shall be opened. What a cruel joke that verse is. 43+ years of seeking and not finding, asking and not receiving, knocking only to have ever door slammed and bolted in my face. This is one of the main reasons that I can no longer trust God’s word, and doubt my salvation. All because God doesn’t care enough to actually be involved in my life. How can you maintain trust in someone, or something, that continually proves to be false? As God has done, proven that His word, or Himself can’t be counted on. I need God to actually do something noticeable in my life so that my empty spiritual cup can be refilled. There is no hope as long as God remains completely uninvolved in my life. I need God to act not just listen and ignore me. I’ll believe God can be trusted when I actually see, hear, or feel something, anything from God.
        God bless you. (because He never blesses me)

  21. Sundance on September 26, 2023 at 10:27 am

    Yahweh is a fratricidal cannibal that wants to usurp El Elyon as the Most High. The contradictions of the character of Yahweh within the books of the Bible are because of commune with two different deities; the Father (El Elyon), and the Lord (Yahweh / Ba’al). Yahweh / Ba’al is a psychopathic conqueror who devours his siblings (other Gods) in an attempt to become The One; in an attempt to take the mantle of El for Itself. It manipulates the good men of the world into doing horrible things in its name, because it also feeds off of strife and war; Yahweh, if you bother to study your religious history, is the amalgam of the Gods of Storms and Wars respectively – Yahweh’s nature is to manipulate the hearts of men and stir them to great conquests, while creating horrific natural disasters to enforce its will upon those who can deny Yahweh’s slaves their purpose. The worst part about all of this is that the alternative of this two-party system – the Serpent, the Beast, whatever you wish to call it – is just as bad.

    Neither side of this conflict deserves our worship OR our respect. They deserve to be beaten down and locked back in the cage El Elyon and El Sophia released them from.

    You are worshiping a font of misery that deceives you with false light; it lures you in by claiming to love you, but all it loves from you is your devotion, not YOU. It simultaneously demands your praise while claiming not to need you, but to also care about you while also threatening you in the same voice; it is, by all definitions, a psychopathic, tyrannical manipulator that wants humanity to kneel because it wants to be the All-Encompassing, and the All-Important.

    Yahweh / Ba’al is pure ego in its absolute worst form; ego that believes it’s the good guy, and believes that anyone who disagrees with it – regardless of the circumstances or the reasoning behind that disagreement – is pure evil. This does not describe an all-loving, all-merciful, all-redeeming, all-forgiving God.

    This describes pure, unadulterated, unequivocal evil.

  22. Precious on March 11, 2024 at 10:31 am

    I believe that God values his glory cause that’s the only way we are sure that he exists. That’s why we were created, to show the devil that even though we can’t see him, we believe in him and trust that he exists and knowing that we glorify him.

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