Signs of an Narcissistic Abusive Pastor

I found this article over a year ago. I’ve re-read it several times and nod my head each time. Not necessarily because it’s a perfect diagnosis of my own congregation, but because it’s given me the vocabulary to describe the abusive behavior I’ve seen.

There are a few caveats I need to warn you about before reading it:

First, you cannot diagnose personality disorders. Don’t even try. Arm-chair diagnoses are dreadful and very unhelpful. Only a professional can diagnose. The strongest thing you can do is say “this could be caused by NPD”.

Secondly, the criteria given in this article is not strong enough to make any conclusions. Any unhealthy congregation will exhibit some of these symptoms.

Personally, I don’t care about the NPD diagnosis; it’s the vocabulary that I’ve found most useful. So often, victims don’t realize they’re being hurt. Or possibly, they do realize they’re being hurt, but they struggle to articulate the hurt, or feel they can’t convince others.

If you’re in that situation, articles like this can help you articulate what it is that’s hurtful and unacceptable. It’s worth remembering too that such abuse is sin. In the Lutheran church, the rite of installation asks the pastor if he will adorn the Holy Office with a holy life. If he’s abusing his sheep, he’s in violation of his ordination vows. Remember that, and don’t let him convince you otherwise.

With that out of the way, here’s the article:

Having experienced leaders like this in parishes like this, and grown them anyway, I believe this describes too many Orthodox parishes in North America today. Read and learn. Let the pastor beware. Taking steps to solve these pernicious and destructive issues has gotten me bounced from more than one parish. Go in with both eyes […]

via Signs in a Congregation That a Leader Has Covert Narcissistic Personality Disorder — Good Guys Wear Black | Discerning Your Vocation In The Orthodox Church


It is my opinion that our churches need to do a much better job in holding pastors to account in both conduct and teaching; identifying worrisome psychological illnesses in clergy; and having policies (or responsible ecclesial overseers) in place to deal with abusers.



One thought on “Signs of an Narcissistic Abusive Pastor

  1. I grew up LCMS. No denomination is perfect, no church is perfect. But, maybe you should consider a switch. Your posts indicate to me that your spiritual needs are not being fulfilled where you are. You owe it to yourself to find a nurturing church home. Peace, Ann


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