Maybe you’ve come across people in your life or in your friend’s life that sure look amazingly good, maybe are in positions of power, perhaps even in the church… and yet something in you feels that “something ain’t right”. There is a “red flag” in your spirit and a still, small voice whispering to you, “Look closer”, and if you still can’t figure out what’s wrong, that small voice may even say “you’re not asking the right questions.” But you’re afraid to ask those questions, to dig deeper, because you seem to be the only one who has a problem with this person. Then you start to question whether you are really feeling or seeing or hearing what you think you are, and maybe you’re just crazy. You’re not alone. This unfortunately is the exact same experience many have had. And the numbers are growing as our culture has fostered an extreme focus on “self”. Yes, we are becoming surrounded by Narcissism…and sadly, the Church is no exception. Here with us today to explain what is going on, how to discern the signs and how to deal with it is teacher and author of the book “Broken Yet Blessed”, Kathi McCarty, with a lesson called, “Unveiling Narcissism in the Church.”
Table Talk Notes
There are wolves among us…
Jer 23:14-17 | …masquerading as prophets, denying the sin they are involved in:
But in the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: they commit adultery and walk in lies; they strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his evil; all of them have become like Sodom to me, and its inhabitants like Gomorrah.”
Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts concerning the prophets: “Behold, I will feed them with bitter food and give them poisoned water to drink, for from the prophets of Jerusalem ungodliness has gone out into all the land.”
Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. 17 They say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’”
Titus 1:10 | rebellion to the Word, God-ordained authority; full of flattery etc:
Rev 2:2 | we are called to discern, warn, and call out those who are such
Every heart is inclined toward sin & evil
- Rom 3:23 – we all miss the mark
- Gen 8:21 – we are born as sinners; reborn as saints
- Jms 1:4 – we are called to press on in spite of our carnal desires
Most people feel badly about sinning; narcs do not
- Rom 7:19-21 – evil is present in us even when we wish to do good.
- Narcs do not see anything as evil if it advances his agenda
Indicators of a Narcissist
Narcissists are experts at creating confusion and contention
- They will twist facts, mislead, lie, take no responsibility for their actions, deny reality, make up stories & withhold information that makes them look wrong.
- Mt 12:34 – virtually incapable of telling the whole truth/ rest of story would expose them
- Acts 6:11-13 – they lie against good/godly people (gaslighting) **see attachment
- 2 Pet 3:16 – they twist Scripture to justify themselves/their sin
Narcissists are experts at fooling others w/smooth speech & flattery
They are often charming, very persuasive, life of the party, good sense of humor. Seem to know exactly what to say to any one person to make him feel “special”. They are scoping out future “supplies.”
- Mt. 26:59 – the end game is to vilify those who can expose who they are
- Rm 16: 17-18 – they prey on the broken, vulnerable, unsuspecting & undiscerning
- 2 Cor 11:13 – they need to be seen as authorities but are untaught; twist the Word, don’t live it
- 2 Tim 3:2-7, 13 & Titus 1:10,16 – Christian lingo but no walk to match the talk
Narcissists crave/demand control. Highest authority is their own self-reference
To question a narcissist is interpreted as a lack of devotion, love, support and care.
- Rom 2:8 – Their entire world revolves around them
- Jude 1:10-13, 16 – “It’s true because I said it’s true. Don’t question me” (there is always fallout if you challenge a narc)
Narcissists play on the sympathies of good-willed people (targets), often trumping the grace card
They demand mercy but give none; demand warmth, forgiveness & intimacy from those they’ve harmed with no empathy for the pain they’ve caused, and with no intention of making amends or working to rebuild broken trust.
- 1 Pet 2:16 – use grace as license to sin and as a covering for it. They demand gracefor their continued unrepentance.
- Jude 1:4 – churches are the perfect “target” (feeding grounds) for narcs because the churches are filled with kind, caring, empathic people whose sense of trust is greater, often times than their sense of discernment.
Narcissists rarely have an active conscience and show little to no remorse when confronted with their sin
Because their own sense of comfort is so important to them, they do not put up a struggle sin, but masquerade as noble and virtuous people who have done no wrong.
- Rm 1:30 – they seek allies (called flying monkeys) in their evil
- 2 Cor 11:13-15 – they will use the term “doing God’s work” while in their sin, while baiting good people; they have no problem using others’ notoriety or fame for their own advancement. The pattern is to adore, devalue and then discard.
Narcissists must be confronted or you become a pawn in their grand scheme
A narc’s only true concern is for himself and the spotlight. A narc will often use a worthy cause, not because he believes in the cause itself nearly as much as using the cause to advance his personal agenda.
Narcissists want you to believe
- Is 26:10 – Their actions have no serious consequences and grace means immunity from relational fallout.
- 1Jn 3:17; Lk 3:8 – They are Christian by their talk rather than their walk.
Can narcissists change?
Dan 12:10 – This is the million dollar question. They rarely will enter into counseling and, if they do, they rarely stay. They have little to no sense of the need for taking ownership of their choices, their consequences, or making change.
GASLIGHTING: From a 1944 movie called “Gaslight”
The Seven Stages of Gaslighting
- Lie and Exaggerate. The gaslighter creates a negative narrative about the gaslightee (“There’s something wrong and inadequate about you”), thereby putting the gaslightee on the defensive.
- Repetition. Like psychological warfare, the falsehoods are repeated constantly in order to stay on the offensive, control the conversation, and dominate the relationship.
- Escalate When Challenged. When called on their lies, the gaslighter escalates the dispute by doubling and tripling down on their attacks, refuting substantive evidence with denial, blame, and more false claims (misdirection), sowing doubt and confusion.
- Wear Out the Victim. By staying on the offensive, the gaslighter eventually wears down their victim, who becomes discouraged, resigned, pessimistic, fearful, debilitated, and self-doubting. The victim begins to question her or his own perception, identity, and reality.
- Form Codependent Relationships. The Oxford Dictionary defines codependency as “excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner.” In a gaslighting relationship, the gaslighter elicits constant insecurity and anxiety in the gaslightee, thereby pulling the gaslightee by the strings. The gaslighter has the power to grant acceptance, approval, respect, safety, and security. The gaslighter also has the power (and often threatens to) take them away. A codependent relationship is formed based on fear, vulnerability, and marginalization.
- Give False Hope. As a manipulative tactic, the gaslighter will occasionally treat the victim with mildness, moderation, and even superficial kindness or remorse, to give the gaslightee false hope. In these circumstances, the victim might think: “Maybe he’s really not THAT bad,” “Maybe things are going to get better,” or “Let’s give it a chance.”But beware! The temporary mildness is often a calculated maneuver intended to instill complacency and have the victim’s guard down before the next act of gaslighting begins. With this tactic, the gaslighter also further reinforces a codependent relationship.
- Dominate and Control. At its extreme, the ultimate objective of a pathological gaslighter is to control, dominate, and take advantage of another individual, or a group, or even an entire society. By maintaining and intensifying an incessant stream of lies and coercions, the gaslighter keeps the gaslightees in a constant state of insecurity, doubt, and fear. The gaslighter can then exploit their victims at will, for the augmentation of their power and personal gain.