It’s Narcissist Friday!
I wish this wasn’t a true story.
Pastor Narcissist continues merrily on his way as the dead bodies of his former staff line the halls of First Church. But he’s okay.
(For those of you who don’t remember Pastor Narcissist’s story, it begins here.)
Pastor A came to First Church to make a difference and he has certainly accomplished that. Many of the people have left, but those who have stayed believe that he is the greatest blessing God ever gave the church. The core purpose of the church hasn’t been talked about for a while, but that’s okay because Pastor A has had so many problems to deal with. The staff has stood against him and so many former members have challenged his leadership. The supporters know that Pastor will come through this and the church will be stronger. They just have to stay with him.
The last to go was the associate pastor. AP held the church together after Pastor X left. There was considerable interest in making him the senior pastor, but AP wanted a support role. He wanted to believe that a dynamic new pastor could take the church forward in significant ways. He was surprised when the church leadership called Pastor A, because his style and focus were so different from Pastor X, but AP was positive and things went well.
Eventually, however, the truth began to dawn on AP. No one was safe. The more supportive a staff member was, the more advantage Pastor A would take. AP did the work and Pastor A stood before the church and took the credit. Pastor A would make a mistake and blame it on AP. As long as AP was willing to keep his place, Pastor A was happy.
But Pastor A made too many mistakes. He really is an incompetent pastor. His primary skill is self-aggrandizement. He knows how to make himself look good. He is well-connected, popular, and smooth. He just doesn’t know how to put together a sermon, or a committee, or a project. Other people are supposed to do those things so he can take the credit. That’s what staff members are for.
Yet, staff members who do well are a threat to a narcissistic leader. If they become noticed for doing well, they might be able to stand against him. So Pastor A had to do something to make himself look good. When he tried to do something on his own, though, it turned out badly. So, he had to blame it on AP. Pretty soon it looked like AP was so incompetent that he would have to be replaced.
So the pushing began. Support in front of the congregation: “We are standing with AP during this difficult personal time.” Negative behind the scenes: “I don’t think you are fitting into our new direction.” AP was supposed to quit. That way anything and everything could be blamed on him.
But AP didn’t quit. Pastor A had to work for this one. People of the church remembered how AP had helped so much through the transition. The nature of AP’s job connected him with almost all the people in personal ways. AP had support. So the traditional bomb had to be used. “We are not at liberty to discuss the nature of the problem.” Whoa! What did AP do? The innuendoes and the gossip began, fed by comments from Pastor A, until much of the support for AP was gone. No one wants to stand by someone who might have done XXX.
Finally, after several grueling months, it is over. AP is out. This one cost Pastor A a little, but it was worth it. For the next year, any church problems can be blamed on AP and on the battle.
Then the clincher. On the last day of AP’s time at the church, Pastor A takes him out for lunch and asks, “So are we okay?”
You know, narcissists can push people past reasonable.
This is the stuff murder is made of.
Ruthless destruction followed by disingenuous kindness.
The narcissist does not care.
He only wants to look good.