In previous posts, I’ve written about my belief that Grace Episcopal Alexandria is a toxic family system that suffers from organizational narcissism.
But what is the connection between narcissistic clergy and narcissistic churches? How does one lead to another?
Experts agree that narcissistic clergy typically lead to narcissistic churches. That’s because narcissistic clergy instinctively build organizations that ultimately serve to protect them, while providing unwavering supplies of adulation and support. Per author and church consultant Peter Steiner, this implicates a variety of behaviors on the part of the narcissist, including:
- Rage if he experiences shame, for shame exposes his true self.
- An inordinate need for praise in order to feel important.
- The feeling of entitlement to special treatment.
- The immense need for continual feedback of how important she is.
- The feeling of superiority and its reinforcement from others.
- Strong reaction to rejection and disapproval, sometimes with intense rage.
- The lack of the capacity to mourn, a defense against depression.
- Calculating and conniving behavior to “maintain” supplies of continuous adulation.
- An impaired capacity for commitment.
- No capacity for self-focus or self-examination.
Not surprisingly, when a church integrates these behaviors into its family systems, it eventually ceases to be a church. As pastor Tony Foglio writes, “A narcissistic church is not a church at all; it is a religious club. Maybe a clear answer for both the narcissist and the narcissistic church is a renewed commitment to Jesus’ great commandment: “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:36-40)”
Does any of this sound familiar?
If it does, the following from Epiclesis.org may be useful: https://www.epiclesis.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Narcissism-in-the-Pulpit.pdf