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Narcisistic Spiritual Leaders and How to Spot Them


Defining the issue

A narcissistic personality disorder is described by four distinct characteristics.: It is a condition where people have 1, An inflated sense of their own importance, 2. A desperate need for excessive admiration and attention, and 3, A lack of empathy for others. 4. Display extreme confidence but are actually vulnerable to any criticism. This general explanation can give insight into what is taking place in a number of ministries across America. These four descriptions will strike a nerve with those who are in toxic church environments. If you are in a church with a kind compassionate spiritual leader this may not mean anything to you. but believe me, there are those who will read this and recognize immediately that they are dealing with a serious issue. This hub is not an attack against any minister or ministry but exposes a scam that is being perpetrated upon His sheep. There are a growing number of books and hundreds of websites devoted to this subject which indicates how serious and how rampant it is.


Inflated sense of importance

The first characteristic given for those who are narcissistic is an inflated sense of importance. From my own experiences and what others have shared this happens most often (not always) with pastors who have become Bishops or Apostles. This is not an indictment against the titles but an explanation of what many believers in Christ are dealing with. It begins with the announcement that the spiritual leader is no longer just a pastor which seems to diminish the role of a shepherd. Now that he has become a Bishop or Apostle the congregation is told that the leader must be treated differently. and deserves a more financially lucrative lifestyle. Narcissistic Bishops and Apostles will talk about their position from the pulpit rather than preach the gospel. They will tell you they are influencers and have access to local or state government officials and are called upon to lead marches or prayer gatherings. There is nothing wrong with having influence but no spiritual leader should dominate the pulpit hour by discussing themselves, the organizations they belong to, their title, and the important people they know. This takes focus away from leading lost souls to Christ and the congregation begins to be in awe of their leader rather than Jesus.


Desperate need for excessive admiration and attention

Narcissistic spiritual leaders speak often about being promoted and are no longer just a pastor. They discuss their new clergy attire as if these items are a badge of honor. Extreme importance is put on the position and congregants begin hearing "Now that I am a Bishop or Apostle" on a regular basis. You may notice that pulpit time is taken up talking about the pastor's wife and children and it will seem that this individual is being showcased rather than the gospel. You might go for a counseling session and the subject gets turned to the pastor instead of your needs. You might also hear about the sacrifices this individual made in order to attain his position.

Lack of empathy

There are churches where the members are taught to march like soldiers, show up in dangerous weather, and not even allow the death of a loved one to interfere with their service. Leaders of these congregations do not express sympathy or empathy and call church leaders into meetings often and berate them for the smallest infraction. They will take away leadership assignments at the drop of a hat. There is little downtime in such ministries and services will be held late into the afternoon on Sundays and late at night during midweek gatherings. Members are told that God set up the strenuous rules and they must be obeyed and compassion is never shown. If you find you are at the church for meetings, rehearsals, prayer, cleaning the building etc. 5 or 6 days a week ad it's required rather than your free will choice you have your answer.

Dominance masks insecurity

Consider the movie The Wizard of Oz where everyone spoke about the great and powerful Oz. Dorothy and her friends encountered a large frightening-looking face with a booming voice and fire billowing around it. They found however that Oz was really only a little man who was hiding behind a curtain. Please note I am not disrespecting any clergy but shedding light on those who abuse their titles and mistreat the followers of Christ. The leader who continually rules with an iron thumb and tells you often he is the anointed Pastor, Bishop or Apostle might be masking fear on the inside. Domination of the congregation hides what he is really feeling.

The following video was sent to me after this story was published and I believe it sums up everything you read here. Watch it then read the article again.

The bottom line

To put this in perspective here is what many churchgoers are dealing with. A pastor who started his own church and is not governed by any rules or regulations. He emphasizes that he was sent by God and should be obeyed or you should leave "his church".. He demands loyalty e3ven at the expense of alienating your family. He becomes a Bishop or Apostle and emphasizes the title often. You must give blind loyalty ad ask no questions and march like a soldier. Sickness, death, and family issues must be cast aside as all that matters is your service in the building. Even marriages are supposed to take a backseat to the leader's demands. Everything is about pleasing him more than it is about pleasing the Lord and obeying scripture.You are expected to supply every need of this man who will not give you the time of day should you go to the hospital or have a death in your family. This is harsh but it is happening and many are too frightened to admit it because the scripture "Touch not the anointed " has been used to keep them in line.

Use wisdom

Please do not confront or disrespect any church leaders but always pray for God's guidance. Your first loyalty is to Christ who died for you and not to another human. If the Lord so leads, please have the strength to walk away from these churches, Every person who leaves is one less individual who can be manipulated and this lessens the power of narcissistic leaders. One of the common denominators is that like snakes in the grass these predators do not like exposure. They put people out of their congregations and block and delete anyone on social media who posts anything they perceive as being against them. They push "Touch not the anointed" but forget they themselves are mistreating anointed members in His body.

Consider please the words of Christ Himself: Matthew 10:26 Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.

27 What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.

28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Exposing wolves in sheep clothing who are preying on congregants is necessary in these last and evil days.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Cheryl E Preston

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