This is the third of a three-part article on narcissistic pastors. I encourage you to read part one, “Mark Driscoll and Other Narcissistic Leaders” followed by “So I Work for a Narcissistic Leader, Now What?” before continuing.
You may have determined that you possess many of the strengths, and perhaps some of the weaknesses of a narcissistic leader. Perhaps you are the type of person that can see a future that is better than the present, you can rally a crowd to your vision, and you can tenaciously move others toward building your dream. But perhaps you also get feedback from your team about your bad listening habits, tendency to exaggerate, or excessive desire to control everything and everyone.
If this is you, here are three things you can do as you take steps toward becoming a spirit-controlled narcissistic leader:
Three things if you are a Narcissistic Leader
- Find people who will speak truth to you. The Bible says that “all the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirt” (Proverbs 16:2). That means you think you are right more often than you actually are. Thankfully, Proverbs also provides the antidote for this in chapter 11: “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” You need to surround yourself with people who not only believe in your vision, and not only will help accomplish your vision, but also people who will speak truth into your life. These should be people who aren’t scared about losing a paycheck or having you yell at them. They believe in you 110% and want to add value to your life by helping you when you fall to some of your weaknesses, like exaggerating, or control, or competitiveness, or pride.
- Work on listening. James 1 says, “Let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak.” I like the way this reads in The Message, “Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear.” Professional communicators (i.e. pastors) have a difficult time listening. They can become so accustomed to everyone wanting to hear what they have to say that they may have a difficulty caring about what others say. “Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish” (Proverbs 18:13).
- Walk with integrity. Listen pastors: Because of your gifting, your ability to cast vision and compel a crowd—people will say nice things about you and the danger is you might begin to believe what people say. Pride is a dangerous trap in anyone’s life, but more so in yours. As a narcissistic leader who can rally people to a cause, the stakes are much higher. Your fall will not just mess up you and your family—but it will mess up the lives of scores, perhaps hundreds, of people around you. Pride lands you flat on your face; humility prepares you for honors (I didn’t make that up, it comes straight from Proverbs).
Let me close this series of articles by saying I am grateful for the impact of narcissistic leaders. I’m grateful there are people who are visionary, who can see the world as it should be—not as it is. I’ve given my life to working with and for narcissistic leaders—using my strategic gifts to help them achieve their vision. I’m grateful there is a whole new generation of leaders who are starting churches at an unparalleled pace.
I say to you: Embrace the way God has wired you. Use your gift to raise up communities of faith all across the world. It is what the church needs. An unguarded strength can become a double weakness. Rely on wise people around you to help you stay on track and focused on a life and leadership worthy of a disciple of Jesus.
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