Regional Pastors Bookshelf: When Narcissism Comes to Church

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The work of a Regional Pastor is to advocate and provide care for the pastors in the classis to which they are assigned.  As a “pastor to the pastors,” much of this work is focused on encouragement and support, especially during difficult times either within the church or personally.

We all know of stories where a pastor got “sideways” with his or her council or congregation. Our colleagues in Pastor Church Resources deal with these situations at a volume that we would likely be shocked to know. Our first instinct is to rally around the pastor in trouble and provide support. However, we should do so with eyes open. As when counseling couples whose marriage is in stress, you find that most often there are shared responsibilities in a failed relationship. A pastor may truly have been treated harshly or even unfairly, but what if the reaction of the congregation or council was initiated after reaching a breaking point due to the behavior of the pastor?

The flawed personality characteristic of narcissism can be a catalyst that leads to abuse of power, broken relationships, and division between pastors and congregations. Chuck De Groat, Professor of Counseling and Christian Spirituality at Western Theological Seminary, examines this topic in his book, When Narcissism Comes to Church: Healing Your Community from Emotional and Spiritual Abuse. Perhaps take a moment to read my review which was first published on the website, In All Things, this past May. Better yet, pick up the book yourself and give it a read. You’ll learn about narcissism and how it affects pastors and churches. You’ll likely learn some things about yourself as well.

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