A couple of weeks ago, I was afforded the privilege of hearing Dr. Diane Langberg (an adjunct professor here at Biblical) teach during one of our counseling classes. Her topic for the evening was Narcissistic Personality Disorder. One of her main points was that while each of us struggle with making ourselves the main character of our lives, some people take it to such an extreme that they can become dangerous to others.

What was more troubling was Dr. Langberg’s assertion that many people who go into Christian ministry actually harbor a Narcissistic Personality Disorder underneath their seeming wealth of charm, passion and gifts. What was even more troubling was the subsequent assertion that many churches also suffer from a myopic view of their own importance and therefore can unwittingly be looking for a Narcissistic Personality Disorder to fill their ministry position. This would explain some of the ministry train wrecks that usually result from such a combination.

Sooner or later, the narcissist reveals his true allegiance (which of course is to himself).

What if ministry candidates were honest about their Narcissistic Personality Disorders when they interviewed for various ministry positions?

In my imagination, I wonder if it would go something like this...

“Good morning and thanks for having me here to interview. You don’t know it yet, but we are about to engage on a wild adventure together to turn this church around. You see I have done some research on you. This used to be a large thriving church and with my help, I think we can grow again beyond your wildest dreams.

I know what is wrong with your church and I know I am the right man to fix it.

How do I know you ask?

Because I am special, you see there are very few like me. Men with my vision only come around once in the life of a church and you have to choose which way you will go. There are things I can do that no one else can. I know some of you have walked with the Lord for several decades but I have been to seminary. I have a clear picture of what is wrong with the church today and I have written papers on how to fix it.

What kind of salary would l like?

Well, of course, you get what you pay for but someone like me needs more than money. I will need you to constantly tell me how special I am. And when the church starts to grow again, you must tell everyone that it is your new pastor that should be credited with the turnaround.

Oh, and by the way, you are also to compliment my wife on what a great help she is to me but otherwise stay out of my marriage. My wife already knows her role.

And also, once in a while, I will use one or more of the sheep for my own nourishment or amusement. You must not object to this. After all, there would be hardly any sheep here at all if it were not for me.

You don’t want to go back to being a “non-special” church do you?”

Both candidates and churches need to guard themselves against the seduction of viewing themselves as “special”. Otherwise we can slip into many of the dangers of a Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Have you ever accidentally hired a person that was a Narcissist?

About the Author

Bryan Maier

Dr. Bryan Maier

Dr. Maier’s prior experience as an associate pastor, combined with his 25 years of diverse counseling experience, gives him a passion for helping others through a distinctly Christian perspective. This goal remains the primary focus of his teaching, writing, and counseling. Bryan maintain a private practice with a local Christian counseling center and is a requested speaker for seminars and professional organizations. Click here to view his faculty profile.


0 # Don Chang 2013-12-20 01:08
Dr. Bryan Maier,

When I first read the title of this article, I thought in reading it I'd be able to identify other pastors whom display these traits. Only to find that I've been cut to the heart in deceiving myself that I've been toiling for the glory of God when a small piece of me wants a taste of that glory. Too many of these sentences revealed to me that I have a heart that desires to idolize myself.

Thanks for your eye opening article. It really reminds me that it's Christ, not me.

Don Chang
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