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The Thin Line Between Leadership and Narcissism


How certain traits admired in leaders can be close to narcissistic behavior, especially in church settings.  



When reflecting upon former religious cult leaders such as Jim Jones and the Guyana, South America suicide massacre; David Koresh and the government standoff ending with the Branch Davidian massacre in Texas; Marshall White and Heaven’s Gate suicide massacre; and Charles Manson’s influence on innocent women to take the life of a pregnant actress in California, some of these were “church” leaders. Others were charismatic leaders who exercised complete dominance and control over the minds and hearts of individuals, persuading or subjecting them to a realm of fear and degradation, leading them to follow and obey the wishes and commands of their narcissistic leaders.

Many who escaped these camps stated that the authorities used severe methods of discipline for the disobedient and manipulated their minds into thinking no one else loved or wanted them and that the world was against them. They were made to believe that the only acceptance they could ever have was through the narcissistic leader, who had no favorable intentions toward them but only for himself. The leader’s purpose was to fulfill his own dreams and needs. The Bible clearly states, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself (Philippians 2:3).” This is the first Warning

In addition, these individuals (who represent some of the most notable in American history) also engaged in the degradation and control of women. Eventually, these men gained control over the women, making them utterly dependent on them (particularly David Koresh, Charles Manson, and Jim Jones). Survivors reported that Koresh and Jones fathered children with multiple women within the compound. Any leader who makes himself superior amongst women, especially over their husbands, is not a leader within the clergy that can be trusted. It is obscene, out of order, and not of the Spirit of Christ. This is the second Warning.

Leaders within the church community who are focused on the “sin-pride” syndrome are easy to spot, but unfortunately, people fail to notice them until it is too late (sin has occurred and the ministry is shamed). It is important for people to notice that the middle letter of both words in “sin-pride” is the vowel, “I”. Lucifer was a beautiful angel and highly skilled in what he did as the ultimate musician, songster, conductor, choir, and praise team leader, who belted out various melodies and powerful notes and sounds simultaneously. However, his sin of pride against God overcame him within his heart and caused him to fall. “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:14-15). This is the very backbone of the narcissist in leadership within our spiritual communities.

These individuals are very casual and smooth with this spirit that often goes unnoticed, just like a slithering, quiet snake lurking to take advantage of its prey. The unknowing and unlearned followers and those with sincere hearts seeking refuge and care from pastoral leadership instead fall victim to the ungodly fire and control of a viper who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. This individual will dogmatically and angrily impose their beliefs on the congregation and or followers and often misinterpret biblical principles to fit their needs. If anyone questions these false leaders, they will embarrassingly berate and humiliate them, threatening hell and eternal damnation if they do not adhere to the word of God based on the leaders’ beliefs, wants, and needs. These narcissists are not interested in what Jesus has said, taught, and done in the Bible. He has become God unknowingly to the followers because of his flamboyant words and dynamic speech. However, he never actually fulfills the powerful works of the Word of God, which will follow with miracles, signs, and wonders. This is the third Warning

Finally, the spirit of racism and prejudice within a spiritual congregation is one of the greatest warnings. Any type of teaching that does not allow the equality of individuals regardless of their race or gender (female specifically) is 100% against the Word of God and should not be tolerated. Unfortunately, narcissists have the spirit of control and manipulation down to a science, especially as it pertains to women in leadership within spiritual communities and participation in church activities that involve the pulpit. Genesis 5:2 states, “Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.” Adam encompassed both male and female as it pertains to both genders. Therefore, womb-man (Eve came from Adam, Genesis 2:22-23) has always been part of man and equal to him. Any leader within God’s church that teaches differently to satisfy their own personal beliefs is out of order and completely wrong. This is the fourth Warning.

It is important to heed each warning when taking time to examine and pray over your relationship and involvement with your current church and its leadership. If you come across any of these traits, even just one, I urge you to fast and pray about distancing yourself from such false teachings, particularly the leader’s narcissistic spirit. A narcissistic spirit can lead to more dangerous situations, as noted by the four leaders mentioned earlier in this blog. Those cases are extreme, but no one is safe from experiencing anything. Remember, the enemy is like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour and this is why you must be sober and vigilant (on guard and watchful) 1 Peter 5:8.

The God hearts and characteristics you should seek in a leader is that of the fruit of the spirit as outlined in Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” The key part of this scripture at the end, “there is no law” is of great importance. The narcissist within the church leadership realm has made their own understanding into law and has bound the people by it. The grip is so tight that people are choking and cannot breathe; they feel hopeless, they are sullen and the joy of the Lord is absent. Unfortunately they are serving God, man, family, and community out of duty and fear, and not from a heart of love because they lack the fruit of the Spirit of God which comes from the Heart of God. This has unfortunately occurred because the leadership lacks the fruit of the Spirit of God, and more importantly, these leaders lack the ordination and connection of God’s heart within them. Thus, they are a congregation of heartless and fruitless leaders, who are leading heartless and fruitless members. This is not the body of Christ, but the body of satan, which contains a lukewarm, compromising, dead church. 

RUN, RUN, RUN!

There is so much I could continue to say on this subject matter. I want you to provide your thoughts and comments. Please, if you have been delivered from such a place or are currently facing such issues, I welcome your comments. 

Even though I have focused on spiritual/church communities, these recommendations also apply to marriages, relationships amongst siblings, friends, co-workers, leaders within your community, on the job, etc. 

More importantly, check out WISDM Ministries’ first annual Narcissism Deliverance Seminar being hosted on Zoom, Saturday, April 13, 11:00 AM EST. You may visit wisdmministries.org/events to register and receive your free tickets. 

Remember, God has already provided you with the tools and power to be free via His wisdom and delivering Word and blood sacrifice. Therefore, be free indeed. 

Blessings, 

Pastor/Elder Janice L. Jones





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