Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Is There a Narcissist in Your Pulpit?

Do you know the signs to look for in order to identify a narcissist if they were in your pulpit? The World Health Organization in its ICD-10 Classification of Mental and Behavioral Disorders describes narcissism as:
“Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a disorder in which a person has a grandiose self-importance, preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, a driven desire for attention and admiration, an intolerance of criticism, and disturbed self-centered interpersonal relations. They are often referred to as being conceited. They generally have a low self-esteem, as well. They act selfish interpersonally, with a sense of entitlement.” I would say that someone who feels this way about themselves would not be biblically qualified per 1 Timothy and Titus to serve as a pastor. Here as some warning signs to look for:

“Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is an all-pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behaviour), need for admiration or adulation and lack of empathy, usually beginning by early adulthood and present in various contexts. Five (or more) of the following criteria must be met:

1. Feels grandiose and self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements & talents to the point of lying, demands to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements). For instance, someone who brags "I've got 20 years experience and a doctorate" when the doctorate they have is from an unacreditted diploma mill.

2. Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequalled brilliance (the cerebral narcissist), bodily beauty or sexual performance (the somatic narcissist), or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion. For instance, a pastor who leads a church to take out a mortgage requiring over 30% of it's budget to pay the payment because he assumes with all the new houses being built in the area the church is going to grow huge very quickly.

3. Firmly convinced that he or she is unique &, being special, can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with, other special or unique, or high-status people (or institutions).

4. Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention & affirmation - or, failing that, wishes to be feared and to be notorious (narcissistic supply).

5. Feels entitled. Expects unreasonable or special & favorable priority treatment. Demands automatic and full compliance with his or her expectations. i.e. A pastor who believes a salary of 50% of the churches receipts is reasonable because he has "20 years experience and a doctorate" when, again, his doctorate is from a diploma mill.

6. Is "interpersonally exploitative", i.e., uses others to achieve his or her own ends. For example, a pastor who uses congregation members to relay conversations they have with members or fomer members to keep tabs on them or a pastor who asks congregation members to try to hack annonymous emails.

7. Devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with or acknowledge the feelings and needs of others.

8. Constantly envious of others or believes that they feel the same about him or her.

9. Arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes coupled with rage when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted.” For instance, mocking a congregation member when asked a question about why something is being done that appears to violate the Bible or telling that member "Don't you DARE walk away from me" when the member is walking away to avoid further confrontation.

If you see these qualities in your pastor, might I suggest getting the heck out of Dodge for your own sake? You can read the whole article here.

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