57. When Narcissism Comes to Church
My story, (Sharon Swing) has been blessed by effective leaders and harmed by unhealthy leaders. All of our stories contain chapters where people have influenced us in ways that shape us. Sometimes we have a choice over who leads us, and sometimes we have not had not. Leaders have a way of intentionally or unintentionally influencing our behavior, our perceptions of ourselves, of how the world works and sometimes even our perception of who God is. Leaders have sway over who is 'in' and who is 'out.' I think it is a good exercise to consider who the leaders have been in our lives and their effects on us. It helps us sort our our life story -- what to take with us and what to leave behind.
I have encountered narcissistic leaders. I have served on staff under a narcissist, I have consulted with companies who have leaders who could be described in this way. I have confronted several narcissists, and I have been shamed publicly by one in particularly hurtful ways. I have studied the effects narcissists have on organizations. I have witnessed the effects of the skewed perspective people have of what 'strong' leadership looks like as they attempt to mirror their senior leader who is a narcissist. I have witnessed situations in organizations where the definition of who is a leader and who is not is a leader is measured by their likeness to the style of the unhealthy narcissist. My hope is that we can open our eyes to identify narcissistic leaders and also identify the ways in which we can be unintentionally drawn toward them.
My prayer with this episode of the oneLife Maps Podcast is to have a conversation that might lead to hope and healing. Maybe you need to hear that you are not crazy. You are not alone. It's time to lay down whatever shame you picked up in the midst of your experiences with narcissistic leaders who may have, or are having some control over you and your perception of who you are.
As Chuck DeGroat says in this episode, "A narcissist's perception of you is ALWAYS less than God's vision for you."
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This week's episode is a conversation with Chuck DeGroat, author of "When Narcissism Comes to Church: Healing Your Community From Emotional and Spiritual Abuse."
Why does narcissism seem to thrive in our churches? We've seen the news stories and heard the rumors. Maybe we ourselves have been hurt by a narcissistic church leader. It's easy to throw the term around and diagnose others from afar. But what is narcissism, really? And how does it infiltrate the church? Chuck DeGroat has been counseling pastors with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, as well as those wounded by narcissistic leaders and systems, for over twenty years. He knows firsthand the devastation narcissism leaves in its wake and how insidious and painful it is. In When Narcissism Comes to Church, DeGroat takes a close look at narcissism, not only in ministry leaders but also in church systems. He offers compassion and hope for those affected by its destructive power and imparts wise counsel for churches looking to heal from its systemic effects. DeGroat also offers hope for narcissists themselves―not by any shortcut, but by the long, slow road of genuine recovery, possible only through repentance and trust in the humble gospel of Jesus.
Connect with Chuck DeGroat at https://chuckdegroat.net
You can purchase the book thru Amazon at this link: https://www.amazon.com/When-Narcissism-Comes-Church-Community/dp/0830841598/ref=sr_1_1?crid=BX3J4CT423CJ&dchild=1&keywords=when+narcissism+comes+to+church&qid=1584034984&sprefix=when+nar%2Caps%2C161&sr=8-1
oneLife Maps is, at its core, interested in helping people to recognize and respond to God in their stories. The seven lies Darrell talks about invitations to consider how a few shifts in perspective on how we think about God and faith effect our ways of being in the world. You don't have to agree with everything he says to appreciate the deep thinking that has led Darrell and others to a healthy spirituality that prioritizes love as its highest value.
If you have engaged in 'Listen to My Life: Maps for Recognizing and Responding to God in My Story' visual life mapping, you'll see that this conversation relates directly to the bottom line on the 'My Life Story' map, where you are asked to consider how you have noticed God, or viewed who God is over the course of your life. This conversation is a great way to help you sort out what stories you have been handed about who you are and who God is -- and prayerfully decide what to take with you, and what to leave behind.
Please explore www.onelifemaps.com to download a free introduction booklet to 'Listen to My Life: Maps for Recognizing and Responding to God in My Story,' that contains the artwork we refer to in this episode. You can purchase your 'Listen to My Life' portfolio on that website, too.
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Sibyl Towner and I (Sharon Swing), co-authored the 'Listen to My Life: Maps for Recognizing and Responding to God in My Story' visual maps, and we produce the oneLifemaps podcast along with our friend and Director of Facilitator Development, Joan Kelley.
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