Working with a Narcissistic Leader

The delicate dance of effectiveness amid ego.

The senior pastor I worked under at a California megachurch had a compelling vision to see seekers saved, was quietly charismatic, and had scores of loyal followers. We began to have concerns about him, though, when he insisted on re-videotaping Nicky Gumbel's Alpha Course sessions with himself as speaker. This, he rationalized, was necessary to "preserve (his own) evangelistic anointing and replace Gumbel's hard-to-listen-to English accent with something more comfortable for Americans." None of us was brave enough to mention that the Alpha Course on video had already led tens of thousands to Christ globally. We all kept quiet and completed the project.

In a board meeting some time later, the pastor described his primary ministry function in weekend services as "walking among the congregation and touching them, conferring a blessing that radically changes their countenances." Now we knew something was wrong. Over time, incidents like this convinced us that our pastor was blatantly self-referential, ...

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