The Narcissistic Christian Leader

The Narcissistic Christian Leader

narcissism

By Thom Rainer

Narcissism should not be said in the same breath as Christian. The former is love of self; the latter is love of God in Jesus Christ.

But the sad reality is that narcissism can and often does creep into the lives of many Christian leaders. And narcissists are selfish and inconsiderate. They demand excessive attention. They feel entitled. And they often pursue power and prestige without regard for others.

The world of narcissistic Christian leaders is complicated by the fact that these leaders rarely recognize their problem. And the disorder may not be readily apparent to those who see them from a distance. They can appear, at least on the surface, to be brilliant and charismatic.

In fact some of those leaders may be reading this article thinking it’s about someone else. They have trouble recognizing their own malady. Let me be more personal. On too many occasions I have struggled with prideful and narcissistic behavior myself. And it took a confrontation from a friend or confidant to open my eyes.

Any person in leadership, even Christian leadership, can be tempted to love self and move into narcissism. So what can we who are Christian leaders do to avoid this trap? What can we do proactively? Allow me to offer five suggestions.

  1. Pray that God will open our eyes. A person of prayer is already demonstrating humility. He or she is admitting a dependency on God instead of self. Let those prayers include a request for God to remove the scales from our eyes, to let us see ourselves as we really are.
  2. Get a trusted advisor. Leaders need someone who can speak truth into their lives. Unfortunately, many leaders surround themselves with sycophants who only tell them what they want to hear.
  3. Get the true picture from those who serve under us. Narcissistic leaders might fool those who don’t see us up close.  But a true, clear, and often painful picture may be available from those who are and were closest to us. They really know us. But they may not have the fortitude to speak truth into our lives. It can be very helpful for a trusted advisor or coach to interview these current and former co-workers with a promise of anonymity.
  4. Repent. Narcissism is a sin. Once we have an awareness of this sin, we must confess it to God.
  5. Seek to restore relationships. A few years ago a trusted friend confronted me with my narcissistic behavior. He let me know that I was hurting others and harming my leadership. I never knew who shared with him about my sin. But I thought it was critical to let my leadership team know of my awareness, my apologies, and my desire to change in God’s power. The entire process was very painful for me, but very necessary for me personally and for my leadership.

Christians who are leaders can be prone to think we have achieved our leadership status because of our intellect and keen skills.  And that type of thinking is the first step toward narcissism. The godly Christian leader will realize that he or she is a recipient and conduit of grace, not a dispenser of wisdom and strategic insights.

And when we have that awareness, there is no way we can see ourselves as anything but a sinner who needs the grace and strength of our Lord every day and every minute.

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on March 10, 2014. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

One comment

  • Sylvester Adams

    What an amazing enlightenment and great caution for christian leaders! It is impossible to avoid this kind of sin and error except one is truly transformed by the Spirit and daily walking in the Spirit – walking as Christ walked (1John 2: 6 ). God bless you sir.

narcissism

Tag Archives: narcissism

The Narcissistic Christian Leader

narcissism

By Thom Rainer

Narcissism should not be said in the same breath as Christian. The former is love of self; the latter is love of God in Jesus Christ.

But the sad reality is that narcissism can and often does creep into the lives of many Christian leaders. And narcissists are selfish and inconsiderate. They demand excessive attention. They feel entitled. And they often pursue power and prestige without regard for others.

The world of narcissistic Christian leaders is complicated by the fact that these leaders rarely recognize their problem. And the disorder may not be readily apparent to those who see them from a distance. They can appear, at least on the surface, to be brilliant and charismatic.

In fact some of those leaders may be reading this article thinking it’s about someone else. They have trouble recognizing their own malady. Let me be more personal. On too many occasions I have struggled with prideful and narcissistic behavior myself. And it took a confrontation from a friend or confidant to open my eyes.

Any person in leadership, even Christian leadership, can be tempted to love self and move into narcissism. So what can we who are Christian leaders do to avoid this trap? What can we do proactively? Allow me to offer five suggestions.

  1. Pray that God will open our eyes. A person of prayer is already demonstrating humility. He or she is admitting a dependency on God instead of self. Let those prayers include a request for God to remove the scales from our eyes, to let us see ourselves as we really are.
  2. Get a trusted advisor. Leaders need someone who can speak truth into their lives. Unfortunately, many leaders surround themselves with sycophants who only tell them what they want to hear.
  3. Get the true picture from those who serve under us. Narcissistic leaders might fool those who don’t see us up close.  But a true, clear, and often painful picture may be available from those who are and were closest to us. They really know us. But they may not have the fortitude to speak truth into our lives. It can be very helpful for a trusted advisor or coach to interview these current and former co-workers with a promise of anonymity.
  4. Repent. Narcissism is a sin. Once we have an awareness of this sin, we must confess it to God.
  5. Seek to restore relationships. A few years ago a trusted friend confronted me with my narcissistic behavior. He let me know that I was hurting others and harming my leadership. I never knew who shared with him about my sin. But I thought it was critical to let my leadership team know of my awareness, my apologies, and my desire to change in God’s power. The entire process was very painful for me, but very necessary for me personally and for my leadership.

Christians who are leaders can be prone to think we have achieved our leadership status because of our intellect and keen skills.  And that type of thinking is the first step toward narcissism. The godly Christian leader will realize that he or she is a recipient and conduit of grace, not a dispenser of wisdom and strategic insights.

And when we have that awareness, there is no way we can see ourselves as anything but a sinner who needs the grace and strength of our Lord every day and every minute.

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on March 10, 2014. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

One Simple Thing You Need to DO to Grow the Church

One Simple Thing You Need to DO to Grow the Church

churchgrowth

My work allows me the luxury of being able to visit many different churches in a number of locations, of both the denominational and non-denominational variety. While I usually stick to evangelical assemblies, I frequently visit Baptist, Assembly of God, Independent Christian Churches, Christian and Missionary Alliance, and many more.

Over the last year my wife and I have intentionally visited ten churches, all evangelical, and all who have clear Vision/Mission statements about reaching the lost and growing the Kingdom. Every single church had a Guest or Visitor Card that they asked you to fill out. We filled one out at each church and gave all of the correct information, including name, address, phone number, and e-mail address. None of the ministers knew us and I did not volunteer any information about my pastoral background.

Now here was the shocker for me – while most of the ten churches were somewhat friendly and offered a decent worship experience, only one of the ten followed up with us based on the information we gave them! Only one out of ten! And to top it off, half of the churches said during the service that if you filled out the Guest Card they would be sending you a gift of some kind in the mail.

I don’t have any studies to back up what I’m about to say, but based on personal experience, about 2 out of 10 visitors will fill out your Guest Card. Most people will not fill it out on their first visit because they don’t know you yet and are uncomfortable with the thought of some strange religious group hounding them. That’s understandable.

But when they do fill it out, it is absolutely inexcusable for the church not to follow-up with those people in some way, shape, or form. I’m not suggesting being intrusive or bothering people, but if you’re not even going to send a “Thank You For Visiting” note, you really shouldn’t be asking people to fill out the card at all. For all we know the people filling out the card might not even be in a relationship with Christ and we have an opportunity that has been handed to us by God to reach out to them. There is absolutely no excuse for not doing so.

I will not name the churches that did not follow up, but I will name the one that did. It was Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, KY.  We visited on a Sunday Morning. On Wednesday we received a handwritten note from a couple that were members at the church thanking us for visiting. On Thursday we received a letter from their financial secretary thanking us for giving. On Friday we received a letter from the pastor thanking us for attending and including a brochure with helpful information about classes, worship, times, etc… While I haven’t asked, I am almost positive that they have a system set up to do this with each visitor who fills out the card.

9e68ff9d79062ab0a6009254374c12f8While I was impressed with what Immanuel Baptist Church did, I shouldn’t have been, because this should be the norm. The fact that it isn’t tells me quite a bit about how serious the other churches were about evangelism, gaining and retaining members, and outreach in general. I realize that not every church has the resources to put a lot of money into this type of thing, but anyone can set up a small volunteer team to make sure that the Visitor Cards are gathered and, at the very least, a note sent out on Monday letting them know you are glad they stopped by.

I want to encourage you today to begin to do this if you’re not doing it already. From my somewhat limited experience, it will help you to stand out in the crowd and just possibly give you the opportunity to lead more and more people to Christ.

That’s what it’s all about anyway…isn’t it?

Barry L. Davis

 

Barry L. Davis spent two decades as a Senior Pastor and started the ministry of The Pastor’s Helper in 1996. The Pastor’s Helper strives to provide tools and resources to help pastors succeed in their ministry calling.

15 comments

  • Valda

    This result doesn’t surprise me because so many ministers or pastors do not do home visits any more.This is a sad situation for me because when I was growing up our home was always a second home to our minister and his wife.. We know without any doubt that God is Love and love in a church is expressed by caring.

    • Dr. Mark Lynch

      Being a Pastor myself, who has been in the Ministry for over 28 years I would like to comment on the lady who said “that most Pastors don’t do home visits anymore.” In the first place Luke spoke on this subject in Acts chapter 6 when he wrote in verses 1-4 , 1And in those days, when the number of the disciples was -multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. 2Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. “3Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, (Deacons) whom we may appoint over this business. 4But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.” The Pastor of a church is called to be the spiritual leader of the church, manage the administration affairs of the church, train and manage his staff, pray for his congregation, study the word of God faithfully, prepare his sermons under the leadership of the Holy Ghost, preach the word of God for the equipping of the saints for the work of the Ministry, teach and train his staff and flock to become better disciples for Christ and counsel people within the church who have a need that cannot be handled by the Deacon body. Deacons are responsible to do home visits, hospital visits and nursing home visits and take care of the many needs of the congregation both spiritual and physical. If a Pastor is expected to do all the visiting, including home visits, hospital visits, nursing home visits and so forth he has no time to do what he is called to do. To many churches today think that is what they pay the Pastor for, is to do all the work in the church, while the Deacons think they are responsible to run the church, which is completely backwards from what the Word of God teaches. A Pastor that is doing what God has called him to do effectively has a full time job and cannot do all the visiting in the church.

      • Chaplain Jorge Rosas, Sr.

        First I agree with Pastor Davis and will reply to Pastor Lynch. We have been in street evangelism where the church itself goes and grabs all that receive salvation and promise to follow up on the conversion in a drug infected neighborhood. Well I have spoken to many in prison, that have told me that before they were send to prison (for what ever reason, no judgement), they attended a Sunday service or a street evangelistic preaching, and their hope to receive at least a courtesy call, (probably would have deter) that person to going to prison, (so says the individuals). But as to the follow up, many have not done so here in the Bronx, I was in a church for 25-26 years, and all the promising of a follow up to congregants visiting have never been done.(It is shameful) Now I go to a Church that all the visitors cards are announced to the meetings of officials and each one take one and follow up, and the results have been, I say 32% on a positive bases. As for Pastor Lynch, I agree with him all the way, what are the Chaplains, deacons, officials of the church for is they can’t provide the ministerial teachings of discipleness in the outer world. What are they warming seats, receiving the word and allowing them to glutton with it; I don’t think it is fair to place all the weight on the Pastor of the church, he is their to disciple the flock, and the flock is their to make more disciples with the teachings of the Pastor and of course the complete guidance of the Holy Spirit… May God continue to Bless the Pastors that do disciple the flock of Jesus, thank you pastors especially Pastor Davis and Lynch for now…..Many Blessings and prayers…….By the way God’s people, need good teachings, well Pastor Davis ministry has them, read, enjoy, learn, cry, and work, because the harvest is full, but few laborers….

  • J. Kelfstrom

    We are a very, very small church and so when visitors come to worship they definitely stand out.. One Sunday a family of four. and new to the community join us for worship. After the service I asked if they had signed the guest register and they had not. I said please do because we would like to send you a thank you note for coming. The mom said to me, “out of all the churches we have visited since moving here your church was the only one to ask for our information. and that meant a lot to me.” We all need to feel we are welcome, Take the time, We never know what messengers God is sending our way.

  • Awesome! At our church we have visitors to fill out a card and on Monday we mail a “Thank you for visiting us” card. We also send the visitor a happy birthday and/or happy anniversary card when that time comes around. I love it, hoping they would love to return. It works.

  • D. Thomson

    I don’t know what our church does, bit I am going to check. Thank you for the reminder.

  • I thank you for this article it is an eye opener really puts our focus on sharp

  • Daniel Hyde Appiah

    It’s a great challenge for today’s church develop this missing culture.

  • Kathryne Young

    We stopped the mailing when so many cards came back as undeliverable,ie, people were giving fake info.

  • DANIEL ANAMKULYA

    That is great. Those simple steps could really change someone’s life.
    thanks

  • OKobi tephen

    Can we really quantify the magnitude of loss the church is experiencing for this great negligence.
    As for me not that the pastors are meant or required to do it all;but they do have a great role to play
    in teaching and encouraging their subordinates ministers and members to make it a priority.

    • Barry L. Davis

      I wasn’t trying to imply that this was the main reason for decreasing membership numbers, but it is one thing that adds to that that can be easily corrected.

  • Loren Sanders

    ” I am almost positive that they have a system set up to do this ”

    Almost positive? No sir, what yiou experienced WAS their system in action. ????

The Narcissistic Christian Leader

The Narcissistic Christian Leader

narcissism

By Thom Rainer

Narcissism should not be said in the same breath as Christian. The former is love of self; the latter is love of God in Jesus Christ.

But the sad reality is that narcissism can and often does creep into the lives of many Christian leaders. And narcissists are selfish and inconsiderate. They demand excessive attention. They feel entitled. And they often pursue power and prestige without regard for others.

The world of narcissistic Christian leaders is complicated by the fact that these leaders rarely recognize their problem. And the disorder may not be readily apparent to those who see them from a distance. They can appear, at least on the surface, to be brilliant and charismatic.

In fact some of those leaders may be reading this article thinking it’s about someone else. They have trouble recognizing their own malady. Let me be more personal. On too many occasions I have struggled with prideful and narcissistic behavior myself. And it took a confrontation from a friend or confidant to open my eyes.

Any person in leadership, even Christian leadership, can be tempted to love self and move into narcissism. So what can we who are Christian leaders do to avoid this trap? What can we do proactively? Allow me to offer five suggestions.

  1. Pray that God will open our eyes. A person of prayer is already demonstrating humility. He or she is admitting a dependency on God instead of self. Let those prayers include a request for God to remove the scales from our eyes, to let us see ourselves as we really are.
  2. Get a trusted advisor. Leaders need someone who can speak truth into their lives. Unfortunately, many leaders surround themselves with sycophants who only tell them what they want to hear.
  3. Get the true picture from those who serve under us. Narcissistic leaders might fool those who don’t see us up close.  But a true, clear, and often painful picture may be available from those who are and were closest to us. They really know us. But they may not have the fortitude to speak truth into our lives. It can be very helpful for a trusted advisor or coach to interview these current and former co-workers with a promise of anonymity.
  4. Repent. Narcissism is a sin. Once we have an awareness of this sin, we must confess it to God.
  5. Seek to restore relationships. A few years ago a trusted friend confronted me with my narcissistic behavior. He let me know that I was hurting others and harming my leadership. I never knew who shared with him about my sin. But I thought it was critical to let my leadership team know of my awareness, my apologies, and my desire to change in God’s power. The entire process was very painful for me, but very necessary for me personally and for my leadership.

Christians who are leaders can be prone to think we have achieved our leadership status because of our intellect and keen skills.  And that type of thinking is the first step toward narcissism. The godly Christian leader will realize that he or she is a recipient and conduit of grace, not a dispenser of wisdom and strategic insights.

And when we have that awareness, there is no way we can see ourselves as anything but a sinner who needs the grace and strength of our Lord every day and every minute.

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on March 10, 2014. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

One comment

  • Sylvester Adams

    What an amazing enlightenment and great caution for christian leaders! It is impossible to avoid this kind of sin and error except one is truly transformed by the Spirit and daily walking in the Spirit – walking as Christ walked (1John 2: 6 ). God bless you sir.

Ten Areas Where Pastors Need to Be Trained for the 21st Century

Ten Areas Where Pastors Need to Be Trained for the 21st Century

By Thom Rainer

Any pastor or other church staff member should be prepared in biblical truths. Theology is a key discipline as well. Indeed none of the classical disciplines should be forsaken, nor any of the practical disciplines, such as missions, evangelism, or church planting.

But the American culture has shifted dramatically in a relatively short period. The United States is becoming more like an international mission field. As a result, ministry training, whether formal or informal, should reflect this reality. Missionaries are typically required to receive intensive cultural and language training before they go overseas. Frankly, a similar need exists today for those in American congregations, or those planning to go to these churches.

So where are the greatest needs? My list is certainly not exhaustive, nor is it in any particular order. But I do see all of these areas as key to reaching our new and challenging culture.

  1. A new language. If a pastor or church staff member does not “speak” social media, he or she is neglecting one of the fastest growing trends in our nation, indeed in our world. It is no longer a fad; it is a primary means of communication.
  2. A non-Christian culture. Our nation is fast becoming a non-Christian nation. While we lament the relative decline in the numbers who follow Christ, we must also accept the reality that those in our community cannot be assumed to be like us, or to hold our values.
  3. The decline of cultural Christians in churches. The Pew Research project confirmed the dramatic increase in the numbers of people who have no religious affiliation. For our churches, this development means that most people do not feel cultural pressure to attend churches. More and more, those who are there are convicted Christians and not Christians in name only.
  4. A new work/life balance. Pastors and church staff members have always been on call 24/7. But now they are connected 24/7 as well with computers, smart phones, and other technological advances. For better or worse, the world of work and personal life is becoming increasingly blurred.
  5. Unregenerate church members. Cultural Christians are those who really know they are not believers, but are affiliated with churches for cultural reasons. But another group includes those who may cognitively assert a belief in Christ, but have really not had a conversion. For certain, this development is not new. But we are seeing the cumulative cost of weak discipleship and false conversions in our churches. How will we respond to the issue of numbers of members who are not truly believers?
  6. The community as a mission field. Can we change our mindsets and be better prepared? Our communities are not just changing because there are fewer Christians. They are changing with an influx of new ethnic groups and people of other religious beliefs.
  7. Less automatic cultural respect of church leaders. In past years, those who held the title of “pastor” or some similar nomenclature were revered in the community just by the position they held. Such is not the case today. Respect must be earned one day at a time.
  8. A more critical world. Many pastors and church staff members do not deal well with the more transparent and critical world in which we live. Some retreat to a form of passivity or paths of least resistance. And some quit altogether.
  9. A greater need for leadership skills. The world in which we live is complex. We may long for simpler times, but that won’t change our realities. Church leaders must be better leaders in more challenging times.
  10. More churches in need of revitalization. This last item may be last on the list, but the need is huge. As many as nine out of ten of our churches are in need of some level of major revitalization. There are tens of thousands of these churches, and the implications for equipping leaders for them are vast.

This list may be discouraging to you as you read the cumulative implications. I see it, however, from a different perspective. I see this new reality and this new mission field as a great opportunity. No, it’s not your father or mother’s church. It’s a new and challenging reality requiring a missional mindset. It requires total dependence on the One who sends us to the mission field. And that is exactly where God wants us.

What do you think about this mission field called America?

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on March 10, 2014. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

One comment

  • Donald Clark

    Mission Field America is probably the greatest challenge for the Christian Church since the crucifixion and ascension of Jesus Christ. Didactically, I say that because the Holy Spirit teaches us all that modern Babylon will arise and that those who belong to the Lord will have to come out of her at the climax of the End Times. How many of us are adhering saints who are consciously aware of what is destined to happen?

Pastor, How is Your Heart?

14 comments

  • Carl Meyer

    Very nicely done. I like that you complemented your spoken word with bullet points off to the side. These videos will be very helpful to anyone wanting to spread God’s word and to learn more about God’s word. If possible in the future, it might be helpful to some to refer to scripture in the short talk and put the text of the Bible verse underneath the outline. Once again, very nicely done.

  • Senior Pastor Maurice C Napper

    Thank you Barry, I am looking forward to your next talk. I also shared this with my associate pastors and friends on Facebook. Have a blessed day in our Lord.

  • Dennis Anderson

    Greetings…the video in this spot says “can’t be played with my present configuration” (Windows 7) Not sure what that means but It won’t play…and no further info. Any thoughts or others who have had a difficulty.
    thanks for your work.
    Dennis

  • Alan Freeman

    A brilliant reminder for us all Keep up the good work

  • What a short and relevant piece, thank you. One additional point I wish to add is that as Pastor, do not hide from yourself. Be open to God even if not to man and he will help you out. God will find us out anyways. David could only hide for a little less than nine months, but God searched him out.

    My second point is for us to remember that God weighs our action and that should send holy fear into our heart. If we walk with this understanding, ministry becomes an assignment instead of competition and we will be able to remain faithful to him that has called us and maintain a good heart.

    Thank you for the opportunity.

  • rev. I. c. singh

    Excited to hear about what is there for me and my congregation. I.C.Singh

  • Minister, Rodney E. Dover

    Wow! Very nicely done Brother Barry. I truely needed to hear that today. God bless you and your ministry

  • Vher Palang

    Thank you Pastor! it really great reminder for to be more cautious in my daily ministry. God bless you Pastor Barry!

  • Atepera Lee

    Dear Barry,
    Thank you for your pastor2pastor talk. Some christians of contemprary church when we talk about what we wear in the church,they said that God is looking in the heart not the outside,But I said we are representing God and we need to dress neatly to show our respect of Him. Also people are looking at us in the pulpit we need to look good as God is a God of things in good order.Yes, we need to check our heart is inline with God’s will and repent of any wrong doings. God bless your ministry.

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