Archive for December, 2009

Refer to STEP 6: I make a commitment to turn away from my pride and refuse to become like those who have abused me.

In their day-to-day operations, narcissistic ministry leaders come to believe that the ends—their ends—justify the means, regardless of what those ends might be. In their arrogance, they believe that because they are pursuing God’s work, whatever they do is right. It’s sanctioned and authorized by God. Because they are convinced of this, heaven help anyone who gets in their way. That person not only becomes a personal enemy but an enemy of God as well. Those who disagree routinely have their relationship with God questioned, if they have a conflict with God’s anointed leader. To oppose the narcissist is to oppose God. It’s that simple.

When it comes to financial propriety, the leader’s narcissism is fully operational. For example, leaders like these have a cavalier attitude about financial compensation for work done for them, contracting work they never pay for—not completely, anyway. Reasoning that the ministry goals supersede the need to be fundamentally fair with those who labor for them, they frequently cheat people out of what they are owed and believe they are being obedient to God when they do so. When confronted about a legitimate bill by a shorted vendor, they become offended.

This is how they view it: Because they are perusing God’s goals, their calling is higher than those who contract to work for them. In their arrogance, they don’t believe treating their vendors ethically is required, and they don’t. This attitude, which is deeply resented by those who have performed their work in good faith, creates bitterness in the hearts of vendors who know they’ve been cheated.

In my quarter century of working with ministries, I have seen hundreds of examples of this kind of abuse. Ministries all over America do it everyday, creating emotional carnage in their wake. Sadly, those who have been cheated by a narcissist blame God for the offense. Becoming cynical, they cast aside a life of faith, embracing cynicism instead.

More than any other thing, this produces people jaded by serving Christian ministries. It’s wrong at so many levels; it’s difficult to list them all.

To learn more about about the subject, go to: Recovering from Religious Abuse: 11 Steps to Spiritual Freedom.

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Here’s the problem with the narcissists who lead major ministries: they consider the way they think to be normal. They also believe their behavior—no matter how outrageous, is also normal. It’s not that they are selfish and obtuse—not at all. They really believe that they are right—that they are always right. This is what makes it a disorder.

They can’t help it. It’s who they are. At the same time, to those who have been abused by them, the wounds produced by their interpersonal experiences run deep. Co-laboring with a narcissist can be very painful. It can debilitate one’s relationship with God for years—sometimes decades. The abusee ends up blaming God as well as the narcissist, creating dysfunction as a result. It can also lead a person into alcoholism and other self-destructive behaviors in an effort to cope—in an effort to numb the pain.

If this has been your experience, you know the depth of disillusionment you’ve suffered. You have a right to be angry but, unfortunately, there’s no value in remaining stuck because of it. You must do whatever is necessary to purge yourself of the poison of your experience, as you repeatedly tell yourself that your wounds came from the hand of a flawed human and not from the God.

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Refer to STEP 6: I made a commitment to turn away from my pride and refused to become just like those who abused me.

A surprisingly large number of narcissistic men and women lead major Christian ministries in America. Because their unique “Christianized personality disorder” is not recognized, these men and women routinely abuse those who have been called to serve them. As part of their disorder, these leaders never recognizing or acknowledging the true nature of their wrongs or the consequences of their behavior, which influence every aspect of their ministry.

They behave ruthlessly, while calling it God’s leading, misleading thousands in the process. Their egocentric worldview allows them to embrace a mind-set, which equates their will with God’s will. In their minds, the two are one and the same. Because their calling is higher than others, they are more important, acting accordingly. What they think and believe carries more weight than others. By the message they preach, they would deny this but, by their actions, they validate it consistently.

They rarely admit wrongdoing because they never think they are wrong, which is part of their disorder. They not only lack empathy for others but they also don’t understand it as well. What makes people like these so hard to recognize is they have great empathy for “the lost”—for those who have no relationship with God.

At the same time, however, they are quite willing to trample upon anyone who gets in their way to “reach the lost.” Narcissists seem to love loosely defined groups rather than real people, because they are incapable of dealing with real people. It’s the idea of helping people they love, not getting involved in the lives of human beings—not in a meaningful way. Leaders like these actually feel contempt for people who don’t agree with every word that flows from their mouths.

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