I’ve been a pastor for almost 30 years and in ministry for nearly five decades. There have been more ups than downs, but in the down-times, when stress was high, there’s one thing I never did.
Dealing with selfish or manipulative people can sure make you think about quitting. I’m sure every calling and career has a measure of coping with difficult people.
A time back I became interested in the impact difficult people have on pastoral longevity.
Not surprisingly, the majority of those who leave the pastoral ministry do so because of the challenges of dealing with people. And the challenge is not the people at the local night club or the prostitute on a street corner. These difficult people worship beside you.
Some celebrate that they dress modestly, don't curse, commit adultery, gamble, or tell lies. That's wonderful. But, isn't that what should be expected of any decent person?
Those things would seem to be well - just normal Christian living. When I hear someone boast of how godly, modest, or moral they are, a little sensor goes off in my brain. The sensor also goes off when a fellow pastor, mentions how godly or holy the people are who he leads. The figurative red light and ringing bell indicates the person talking is likely guilty of a sin he has not referenced.
Interesting fact: the Bible more frequently mentions and condemns pride than adultery. The words pride, proud, and proudly occur 106 times in the Bible while the words associated with adultery occurs only 70 times. You will see that pride, even when someone is expressing how godly they are, actually identifies their narcissism. Pay attention, and prepare yourself on how to deal with a narcissist on your job, church, or community, because more narcissistic behavior will soon appear.
The Hebrew word most often translated pride comes from two Hebrew words. One means to be above, the other word means to shine. Pride is the desire to shine above our fellow man. Self exaltation is direct disregard of God's word, (Romans 12:3)
Pride in my accomplishments is to make an idol of myself.
Being unrealistically proud of my kids and grandkids, and making sure they are treated special is idolatry. This particular idolatry is not good for you, not healthy for the child, and creates disunity in the body of Christ. As a pastor, my children and grandkids are special, but receive no special treatment concerning any activity at God's house. There should be no nepotism in God's house. Such behavior is a readily visible indicator that a person is narcissistic.
The serpent convinced Eve, ye shall be as gods. Narcissists are ok with that - to be as gods. As - notice the word. Eve was not assured she would be a god, but that she and Adam would be as gods. Narcissist want title over influence. If they can be seen as, imagined to be - shining above their peers that is enough.
Narcissists usually make great first impressions, but it is little more than the false fronted buildings used by a movie studio. Such do not care about accomplishment, rather they are concerned with position. But the Bible says:
Charles Spurgeon said, "none have more pride than those who dream that they have none." Many narcissists have lived self-centered and self-absorbed such a long time, that it is difficult for them to see their behavior as pride, as sin, and destructive.
- Narcissists crave constant admiration, often at the expense of others and at cost to Christ's work.
- Proud people, narcissists believe they are unique and special, thus deserving special treatment.
- Narcissism breeds entitlement.
- Narcissism fuels belittling others.
- Narcissism is blinding.
What is the point of this blog? To educate you further, so you can see and thus know narcissism. My book, Pastoring a Narcissist has insight on how to deal with such people.
And for the honest hearted among us, perhaps an awakening to our pride and narcissism.
Pastoring a Narcissist is the first in a series Pastoring in the Dark Triad. This blog adds thought not in the book.
- Narcissism idealizes self.
- Pride idolizes self.
Is there a difference between idealizing and idolizing?
Neither pride or narcissism are admirable. Modernity sees pride as having healthy sense of self-worth and accomplishment. That is not the Biblical view of pride.
For further study consider Isaiah 14:12-15, and Ezekiel 28:12-15.