Does “We” mean “you” or “I”? It depends…

It’s Narcissist Friday!




One of the more confusing things about narcissists is that they actually do seem to be better than others.  They do get a lot done.  In fact, they are often great leaders—movers and shakers, so to speak.  Their churches are large and growing.  Their businesses are progressive and influential.  Those who are politicians have their names on many significant bills.  Narcissists seem to deserve credit for many good things.

Yet, those who are closest to the narcissist often notice that he or she really isn’t that good.  Instead, narcissists are particularly good at getting others to do their work—and then unashamedly taking all the credit for themselves.  Those who have worked with narcissists have probably experienced this.  They have no qualms about taking credit for work you did together or even work you did on your own. 

Years ago we had a man come to our church who thought of himself as a leader.  I remember that we had some landscaping work to do.  He went to one of the elders and said, “If you get me a tractor and a group of men, I’ll get that job done.”  In other words, he would drive the tractor, the men would do the work, and he would take the credit.  The same man complained to me about a church he had left.  He said, “I had all kinds of good ideas for those people to do, but they wouldn’t do them.” 

Now, this man wasn’t a particularly effective narcissist, but he certainly thought like one.  The wife of a narcissist often wonders how he can be so loved and appreciated at work, when he doesn’t seem to be able to do much anywhere else.  The boss of a narcissist wonders how someone so incompetent can continue to gather more responsibility and respect.  The co-worker of a narcissist is amazed at how he is able to turn his lack of ability into apparent superior skill.   What narcissists are good at is manipulating and using others.

When a narcissist uses the word “we,” and he often will, he means it in different ways.  If there is work to be done, he means “you.”  If there is credit to be received, he means, “I.” 

Comments?  Questions?  (I’d love to read your stories!)


Filed under Church, Narcissism

4 responses to “Does “We” mean “you” or “I”? It depends…

  1. graceandgiggles

    I have a secret. I hold on to the resentment. I’m afraid if I let it go, everyone who holds him in such high regard will know. The truth.

    He’s a pastor, you see. The kind where his “flock” call him pastor.

    He’s a dad, you see. The kind of dad where I have a hard time calling him anything but his given name instead of Dad .

    When I came back Home and started reading my Bible, the Book he always had his nose in, in the deepest recesses of my heart I assumed my new found spirituality would bring us closer together.

    It did not.

    It would come blaring so loudly off the pages how the elder described was not him. This pastor. This dad.

    I give my ton of baggage to God.

    I take it back.

    It’s a 32 year old familiar feeling.

    I’m not sure who I am without it.

    Then, I give it back to God again.

    It really is too heavy for me to lug around.

    My dad.
    The pastor.
    He is a narcissist.
    I am the preachers daughter who rebelled.
    Funny how life turns out.

    • Whenever I read the stories of those who have been hurt by narcissists, I grieve. It hurts so deeply. Someone once said that the most common response from a victim is rage. That’s because for so long they thought it was their problem. After all, how could this other person be that mean? Who would say those things unless they were true? Who would do those things unless they were necessary? The victim assumes that the narcissist is the good person he portrays himself to be. The real problem is the victim himself or herself.

      I hope the connection with legalism becomes increasingly obvious. He must control you. If he does not, others will see the truth. He must reject you if you even hint at exposing him. He knows what lies beneath and must remain hidden.

      It is especially sad for preachers’ kids, I think. Like a double whammy. Maybe more because the assumption is that God is somehow the same way.

      And still you protect him. Because maybe, just maybe, there is a chance of love or, at least, reasonable relationship. And the whispers of it being your own fault haven’t really gone away altogether. Besides, who would believe you? So the status quo continues.

      God knows. He loves you. His grace is sufficient for your pain and you are safe with Him. No one else may understand, but He does. Now you are free. When the burden returns, just keep giving it to Him. He is willing and you will find that it comes back to you less often. It isn’t your burden after all.

      I am praying for you.

      • Lady Quixote/Linda Lee

        Today, five years after this post and these comments were written, I am here reading. I have recently gone back to the very beginning of this blog, reading everything, including comments, soaking it all in like a parched desert soaking in a gentle rain.

        My father was a preacher. My father was an abuser. My mother, the Bible thumper preacher wannabe, was, and still is, even more abusive than my father.

        I became agnostic, almost an atheist, for many years because of their horrific abuse. I was fifty when I came back to the Lord. That was thirteen years ago. Today I have grown children, grown grandchildren, and a toddler great-grandson. But even at my age, the damage was so deep that I am still hurting and still healing from my Developmental Complex PTSD. That’s why I am reading all the good information that I can find, in an effort to learn, grow, and heal some more…. and then try to pass it on to my children and grandchildren.

        Thank you, Pastor Dave, for this much needed blog. Please write a book. Please. We need a good, comprehensive, compassionate, healing book about narcissistic abuse, written from a grace-filled Christian perspective.

        Even a great book needs a good catchy title to help it sell. Maybe you could call it FIFTY SHADES OF NARCISSISM: Understanding and Healing From Narcissistic Abuse, from a Grace-Filled Christian Perspective. 😀

  2. Lady Quixote/Linda Lee

    I forgot to check the box to notify me of new comments..

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