Pastor Narcissist pt2

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.

9 Comments

Filed under Narcissism, Uncategorized

9 responses to “Pastor Narcissist pt2

  1. I know this story is true for too many churches. On an emotional level, I want to bury my head in my hands. [Acts 20:29 NIV — I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.]

    • Whenever there is an opportunity for self-promotion – whether it is money, power, popularity or whatever- some people will take advantage of it. Very sad, but certainly not new.

  2. Romans 7:24 :(

    I am convinced narcissism cannot fully explain this pastor because I am a believer with SEVERE NPD. Before salvation, I was a violent person, after salvation I now beat MYSELF up for not being loving enough and I constantly worry about being a stumbling block to others. I lacked empathy for my entire life, and experienced empathy for the first time almost two years after I got saved. But even before the Lord created empathy in my heart, the Holy Spirit was cultivating fear of the Lord in my heart and there are people who I previously have hurt greatly who have acknowledged a total change in the way I treat people since I’ve been saved. And that is before God gave me empathy.

    I would seriously doubt the veracity of this pastor’s salvation. As the first commenter said, he sounds like a savage wolf, which our Lord warns us about. There are differences between cerebral and somatic narcissists, and I am a cerebral so MAYBE this pastor is just a somatic narcissist and I don’t understand his issues….. but I think that is wishful thinking. I don’t think this pastor is saved, I think he is a tare sown among wheat, a wolf among sheep like the first commenter said. He does not sound like a man who fears the Lord, period.

    Those of you reading this who have NPDer’s in your life should try to understand what it is like living with NPD, the inward heart issues are vexing and extremely painful.

    Every act of “offense” they do against you usually has a defensive motive at it’s root. NPDers construct an outward shell of aloofness and aggression, but we are actually the most fragile people in the world. Our inner worlds are a mental house of cards and we are woefully aware of it. Every action a narcissist does is to preserve and protect the mental house of cards. They suspect everyone of secretly hating them and constantly fear that their inner emptiness will be exposed. They need the Holy Spirit, and if they are believers already maybe they need to be under better teaching. Also, love and closeness are thorny issues for the narcissist, emotional intimacy terrifies a narcissist, but if you can work within a narcissist’s boundaries and not cross their invisible walls (find out where these are!), they will be less paranoid around you (all narcissists are paranoid of the emotional “death wound” they fear could hit them at any minute), and if you can alleviate that fear in their heart (without ever actually mentioning it), your relationship may become a safe zone in their life and they may calm down a little bit. NPD is a VERY frightening condition to live with. You should understand they are very skilled in hiding the truth about just how frightened they are inside, people with NPD suffer from persecutory delusions, and spend their whole lives guarding against threats which usually only exist in their warped imaginations. You will not ever get your relationship to be a “safe zone” in the narcissist’s life without supernatural help from the Lord, you will have to get on your knees and be praying for wisdom. You will enter the narcissist’s “safe zone” if you can prove – consistently prove – that you will not be the person to deliver the mental “death wound” they secretly fear so much. And along the way, they will try you and test you, and test your reactions, and they will hurt you if you get too close, or they will just run away. You have to understand that the narcissist does not see himself the way you think he does, he imagines himself as some subhuman monster that everyone would despise if the truth about him were exposed. The chain reaction to this delusion makes it a self-fulfilling prophecy. But behind the monster is a person who suffers from very intense, deep and pervasive paranoia. Narcissists are so good at pretending nothing gets to them at all, but the truth is that everything gets to them, it is very easy to hurt a narcissist because almost everything hurts them and they do not have the same “shame repair brain circuitry” as normal people. Fear and shame motivate almost everything the narcissist does.

    The Word of God will accomplish what the Lord intended when He wrote it for us. I don’t believe psychology can do a person with NPD much good at all, but the Holy Spirit working through Word of God will accomplish the Lord’s purposes in every sinner’s heart.

    Ultimately, you should desire them to grow in Christ’s likeness, and you should be on your knees asking the Lord how He can use you in either a) their salvation or b) their sanctification. It is a thrilling thing for a person whose inner world is as barren and tortured as the narcissist’s to experience the love of God.

    • I approved this comment with some reservations because there are some things in it that will be troubling to victims of narcissism. At the same time, the writer expresses the fact that narcissists are broken and hurting and fearful individuals and their narcissism comes from deep-seated injuries and decisions. This is partly what I was trying to communicate with the two examples of children who became narcissists. There is much in this comment worth reading for that perspective.

      However, I am concerned that much of this puts the burden of relationship on the victims. Those who have suffered the cruelties of a narcissist usually are not able to reach out in love and kindness toward the narcissist because those characteristics have already been drained from them. They have already tried, far beyond whatever limits are reasonable, to understand and help. Their consistent failure and the narcissist’s punishing meanness have resulted in a loss of strength and, even, identity. Because the narcissist has destroyed the health of his victims, he will not find much help from them with his struggle.

      Also, I am not convinced that the distinction between “cerebral” and “somatic” is helpful except to explain some of the actions of the narcissist. If your narcissist is somatic, for example, you will probably find her to be excessively focused on her body, how she looks and feels. She may be very active sexually, even demanding, or she may not want to be touched by anyone. The cerebral narcissist focuses on intellect, being more intelligent or cunning than others. This distinction is not found in much of the professional literature, probably because the root cause is the same. The core insecurity of the narcissist will cause some people to act out in different ways from others.

      Narcissists in general are manipulative, argumentative, and lacking empathy. These are the perspectives that hurt others, no matter how they are applied in a particular situation. For another example, a male narcissist may use sexual intimacy with surprising frequency and intensity as a means of control and to give a feeling of power. It may have nothing to do with his body or sexual needs. So, is he somatic or cerebral? Another narcissist may have many non-sexual intimate relationships. He is willing to push past normal boundaries, even physical ones, but not willing to enter into a sexual relationship because he does not want anyone to touch him in a way that might make him vulnerable. So is he somatic or cerebral? This distinction may not be helpful to many people.

      Again, there is much in this comment that is helpful. It certainly reveals the inner pain of the narcissist. But in the narcissist cry there is still a call for others to change and help. The “get down on your knees” statements have the sense of a demand, rather than a plea.

      As far as determining whether “Pastor Narcissist” is a real believer, that is certainly a question in my mind. I know that believers can hurt others. I know that believers often do things that are cruel and wrong. But there is little of the story I know that suggests this pastor is a believer. He does seem more like a religious person who has found a way to make himself look and feel good. I wouldn’t say that was the definition of a believer.

      Now, I understand that my response may not be what the writer of this comment would want or appreciate. I would be happy to correspond privately or to have further conversation here. Please do not read anything I have written here as disrespect, because I did allow the comment and I do agree with much that has been written. The comment is simply colored by the pain of the writer. I want to do everything I can to affirm the amazing love of God for the narcissist. Trusting in that love is the only way out.

  3. Romans 7:24 :(

    I had two things I wanted to say with my post. The first half was about the pastor, the second half was merely an attempt to show people how a narcissist thinks.

    First, on the pastor. My point was merely that narcissists still need to repent of their behavior. This pastor hasn’t done that. I used my own experience as an example, with the caveat that I may be a different kind of narcissist than he is, therefore unable to walk in his shoes. Since he seems to have no fear of the Lord, I identified that as a bigger problem than his narcissism, because fear of the Lord helped me to modify a lot of my behavior even before I experienced any real healing (my comment on empathy).

    The second half was merely a look into the mind of a narcissist. Detectives study psychopaths so they can be better at catching serial killers. The thought processes that lead a serial killer to rationalize murder doesn’t make it right, however understanding that thought process might be very helpful if you want to catch him and put him behind bars. So with the narcissist. If you are unfortunate enough to have one in your life, and cannot avoid the person, I thought maybe that look into a narcissist’s inner world might be helpful in the heat of the moment when you are trying to calm the narcissist down. As I said earlier, the narcissist is the one who needs to repent and if he fears the Lord, he will.

    My get on your knees comment was more directed towards someone who is trying to evangelize a narcissist. When I’m reading some of the horror stories of what narcissists on your blog do, I’m saying to myself these people can’t know the Lord because they don’t fear Him. A psychological condition doesn’t negate the fact that what the NPDer is doing is sinning against you when they are acting out and victimizing you. However Jesus said to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us.

    Feel free to delete my comments if you feel what I said isn’t profitable to the people reading it. I just thought a believing narcissist’s point of view might be of some use to someone out there who might be trying to make sense of out of the NPDer in their own life. God bless you.

    • Your perspective on the motivation of the narcissist is why I allowed the comment. People should understand that the narcissist is not just some monster that can be written off as such. These are real people who hurt in big ways and your comment shows that. So I appreciate what you wrote.

      The narcissist, however, is often very able to get into the head of his victim and convince him or her that the problems are their own. If they understood him, for example, they would be nicer and more cooperative. One of the things I find helpful as I counsel is for the victim to begin to separate his thinking from that of the narcissist. It helps to have the label, even though the label depersonalizes. Once the victim is restored to some health, he may be better able to reach out with strong boundaries and a firm hand to help the narcissist in the way that is needed.

      As far as whether such a person as the pastor or the many narcissists I have met and heard of who hurt others in such serious ways, I question the reality of their faith as well. My primary work has been with Christians and this question comes up all the time. Only God knows the answer, I suppose.

      Please don’t read my responses as rejection of you or even of what you say. My concern is for my other readers as well and I trust that you understand that. I would like to communicate more with you.

    • HurtByNPD

      All of these comments have been very helpful to me, as I have had interaction with a narcissistic pastor for several years now. It has not ended in a good situation and my family and I have been hurt deeply. I both want to understand how and why this person could behave in the manner he has, without losing sight of the fact that he is a human being who is tortured inside. We need both insight and compassion so we don’t make the same mistake the narcissist does and throw them away like garbage once we’ve realized what we are dealing with. So thank you for this post and all the areas that both of you have gone into with narcissism.

  4. Angela

    One narce that I know well, a text book case of addiction, abusive rage etc in his 60’s now- has had a childhood of trauma, as a baby starved because the mom couldn’t care less that the 2 year old kept stealing his bottle, she had 7 others fighting around the house. The father was always at the pool hall or socializing somewhere. The rabble of children grew up fighting each other like hyenas for every scrap of the smallest human need- decency/respect, food, space. Growing up in poverty, loneliness, derision caused all of them but one to become cruel narcissistic abusers. (even rape, although no one talks about that)The one that didn’t is a mess of physical ailments that she doesn’t do anything about, just sits in quiet sweet misery as if this is her lot in life.
    Feeling sorry for these people is easy. Praying for that whole family is also easy as long as I have distance enough to be safe from their games/attacks and to maintain emotional equilibrium. While you are in the middle of a narcissistic relationship, whether a marriage, work, or parent or child you aren’t even able to think straight as you are constantly vigilant as to where the next shot will come from to be able to pray for them. You are too busy praying for your own safety and sanity.
    It is so good to hear that Gods grace dragged a narcissist out of that pit of wretchedness, and gave him a heart. I hope there will be more hopeful stories. I agree with the Grace reply in all ways.
    (I will understand if you decide not to allow this comment)

  5. Johnny Mullens

    I am frustrated because of narcissistic church leaders or members. I am visiting others churches because the pulpit minister of the church I attended wanted people to not sit in the back 8 rows. I’m diabetic and have an incontinence issue. When I met with the preacher and an elder, he told me I was using diabetes as an excuse to sit in the back and there is no excuse for not sitting eight rows from the back. The times I had discussions with him, he lied constantly and tried to interrupt. He cried when I told him he had CNPD and cried when I told him that I did not trust him. I now have had elders tell me that no one from the church ever told us that we could not sit in the back. Elders or church leaders who side with a narcissist minister will protect them at all costs until they can’t be protected.

    One elder saw me walking out before the minister started to preach. I told him I was sinning by listening to the preacher. He was upset. He kept lying and interrupting me. I realized he is a narcissist. Many narcissists don’t realize they are narcissistic or are ashamed to admit. That elder got mad at me in a meeting with the elders and said I could not teach at church because I used the word “cognitive dissonance”. Later, he lied and said he never said that. He often would lie and say, “I forgot I said that” after being confronted about his behavior. What was strange about this elder is when he got mad about “cognitive dissonance” because he did not know what it meant, he named I would be over the head of another member that he named because he could not admit I knew something he didn’t. I’ve hauled scrap metal with member and he has asked me why I’ve have not been teaching because he and his wife thought I did a good job. That elder used interruption as a gaslighting technique. He said he only interrupted me when I gossiped even though I showed I Corinthians 1:10 t back up that Paul listened when the household of Chloe had legitimate concerns about some of the Corinth people in church. That elder said, “Well, that was Paul. That doesn’t apply. He would cut off me and try to discredit me for saying things he did not know by claiming I wasn’t a doctor.

    It was interesting watching that minister when I would not feed him the narcissistic supply he desired. He would alternate between rage and crying. He was competing with me in front of that elder to try to win because he could not look bad. He cried in front of the elder when I told him he wasn’t who he thought he was. The church has 500 members but only two Sunday morning classes because the preacher has to be in control. Since I am a threat, I don’t do things in that church. I have had to go to other churches to attend classes because of the homogenous approach to adult education. One size doesn’t fit all. I continue to visit that church on Wednesday nights because I have friends. It is a challenge to expose a narcissist church leader because they will try to manipulate others by lying, bullying or falsely discrediting those who stand up to them. Narcissist preachers or leaders are the “mean girls” of the church body.

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