Psychopaths and Pastors

I came across a really scary statistic the other day. 30-40% of people in ministry are narcissists. Yes. 30-40%. And that’s frightening. If 15% of your population falls in the cluster B category (Cluster B personality disorders include antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder), a large number of them are in ministry. These are supposed to be “men of God” but many are not; many are wolves in sheep’s clothing. I believe this is why Jesus preached so much against the Pharisees – the religious leaders of his time. Jesus says about them in Matthew 23:5-7 Everything they do is just to show off in front of others. They even make a big show of wearing Scripture verses on their foreheads and arms, and they wear big tassels for everyone to see. They love the best seats at banquets and the front seats in the meeting places. And when they are in the market, they like to have people greet them as their teachers.

Time has not changed. Many religious leaders today, as the Pharisees in Jesus’ time, lack the humility that Jesus requires. I believe that some become religious leaders because they have a need for accolades and status and others lose their humility because of the accolades and status.

Which leads me to the difference between Psychopaths and Sociopaths. Clinicians differentiate between the two. The term psychopath is used by those who believe that there is a genetic, biological, and psychological component whereas the term sociopath is the understanding that social forces and early experiences are at play. I am adding this in here because I want to add a caution. We do not help our pastors, ministers, bishops, and priests by idealizing them and by looking up to them. In fact, we do them a great disservice. We are not at fault for creating sociopaths in our religious leaders since each person is accountable for who they become but we don’t help them either by believing that they are in some way above the rest of us. Do them, and yourself, the blessing of seeing them for who they are. Human. With flaws. They, too, need accountability.

I believe that the other reason that there are many people in ministry who are in the Cluster B category is their own personal desire for control and to be in positions of power. Religious leaders have much control and influence and some yield it with few stop guards and that’s scary.

R. Glenn Ball and Darrell Puls wrote a telling book about the connection between pastors and narcissists in the book Let Us Prey: The Plagues of Narcisssist Pastor’s and What We Can Do About It. This is the description of the book: Jesus warned of wolves carefully disguised as shepherds who would come into the local church as pastors. It is the perfect disguise from which to devour the flock one lamb at a time. The authors were the first to study this phenomenon in North America and discover how serious the problem is. What they uncovered is shocking. The enemy has infiltrated the North American church. In this study of a large Canadian denomination, just under one in three pastors met the diagnostic criteria of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). This is one of the most destructive and least treatable of all mental disorders, but is often well hidden behind layers of “sacred” deception. Some are charismatic while others are quiet and even awkward, but they share the same needs for power, control, praise, and public recognition. They are also rigid, unbending, never wrong, demanding, and full of hidden rage, leaving the people working for them in demoralized fear. They see you as inferior and God as a rival, while the worst see themselves as God. If they see you as a threat, they will do everything possible to destroy you spiritually and emotionally. Is your pastor one of them?

It’s also why so many people are repulsed by religion and see it as a means to control the masses. It’s why I left religion and I don’t think I will ever join a church again. I will happily attend, volunteer my time, and financially contribute to a church, but I don’t want to ever be a church member again. It’s because of my experience that I shy away from becoming a member of any organized religion ever again. I know I am not alone in shuddering when I pass by a church building and see the institution and not God in there. Many religious leaders are the cause for turning people away from God, not to God. Many have done a lot of serious damage to the name of our God in the name of religion.

Dee

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Grateful #47

I can’t change my circumstances but I can change my perspective. Today I am grateful for good health. I am not sickly and I rarely get sick. I rarely even catch a cold. I am grateful that I have no need to be on medication which is such a huge blessing.

If I am completely honest, I take my good health for granted and that’s why I wanted to express it today. There are many who experience all sorts of chronic illnesses and who experience pain in their bodies. There are many who are on all sorts of medication including medications to manage the negative side effects of their medications. There are many who need to routinely go to the hospital or to their doctor’s.

So today I am grateful for good health. I am grateful that I live pain-free and medication-free. THAT is such a blessing.

Dee

Responsibility – Not Fault

I want you to know that it is not your fault.

It’s not your fault.

It is not your fault that your mother is an alcoholic or that your father is an authoritarian father. It is not your fault that you lost your job due to downsizing or your home because you didn’t know there was a lean against it. It is not your fault that you were sexually assaulted as a teenager or that you were beaten as a child. It’s not your fault that you were cheated on or that your best friend betrayed you. The pain that you carry – it’s not your fault. The pain inflicted on you – it’s not your fault.

It’s not your fault.

But it is your responsibility to heal. It is your responsibility to work through the trauma. It is your responsibility to move forward in your life. You can’t put the brakes on and you can’t stay where you are. You need to move forward. You need to come to terms with what happened to you and you need to push forward. There may be people who try to drag you back. Shake them off. Surround yourself only with people who will cheer you on. Surround yourself with people who recognize the hard work you are doing in and on yourself. Surround yourself with people who will love you no matter what. You may have to cut a lot of people out of your life and it may hurt at first but good people will take the place of the toxic ones.

What happened to you is not your fault but it is your responsibility to heal. The person who is at fault will rarely recognize it and you cannot wait for the apology you deserve. You will not get it. You cannot look to the person who caused you such pain to repair what he broke. He, himself, is broken or else he would not have broken you. You are responsible for your own healing. There is no one who can do that for you.

Surround yourself with people who encourage you. Do what you need to heal. Dig in and do the hard work because staying where you are and becoming bitter is not worth it. You hurt yourself with bitterness, not the person who hurt you. You free yourself only by forgiving and letting go.

You can learn to love again. You can learn to be vulnerable again. You can be courageous again. You can allow yourself to be seen again. You are of worth. You have value. You have greatness within you. You’ve got this. Keep moving forward because moving backwards is not an option. Progress only happens by moving forward and out of your comfort zone. You’ve got this!

It’s not your fault but it is your responsibility.

Dee

Brené Brown wrote, “Of all the things trauma takes away from us, the worst is our willingness, or even our ability, to be vulnerable. There’s a reclaiming that has to happen.” Vulnerability is “about having the courage to show up and be seen.”

Grateful #46

I can’t change my circumstances but I can change my perspective. Today I am grateful for my days off.

I don’t work a regular 9-5 job but I work shift work and plan my shifts as best as I can around my kids’ schedules. Some weeks I work long hours because of the needs of the people I support but that’s after I put the needs of my children first. I have a good job but I have great kids whom I love to spend my time with. I love my days off and being able to plan time with them, or with my Constant, or with my friends. My days off are a blessing to rejuvenate, to refresh, to be able to take a break, and to connect with people in my life.

I love my job but I find meaning in my relationships. And my days off give me beautiful time with the beautiful people in my life.

Dee

Moving Mountains

I have been praying for God to move the mountains in my life. I have been praying for God to part the sea for me so I can walk on dry ground. I have been praying for a miracle to happen in my life.

And then God sent me R–. She has been my God-send. She is my miracle. She has been able to help me in an area that I couldn’t do for myself; an area I was crying out to God for help.

And then I finally realized that God doesn’t necessarily move the mountains in our lives — he gives us people to do that. What I needed help in, I couldn’t do on my own but R– could. Where I got overwhelmed and bogged down, she was able to take over for me and do for me what I couldn’t do for myself. She is my blessing. She is my mountain-mover.

These past few years, each time I prayed for mountains to move, God sent me someone to help move them for me. When I was a shell of myself, God sent me my Constant. When I needed to make sense of what happened to me, God sent me my Counsellor. When I needed understanding from someone who went before me in this journey, God sent me Em. And when I needed help to go through the practicalities of this journey, God sent me R–.

I was waiting for mountains to move, (or preferably, a lighting bolt to strike!) but God didn’t move in that way for me. God sent me these amazing people and others just like them to lift my burdens and move what was impossible for me to do on my own. He sent me this army of loving people who are helping me along this journey. He sent me people who say, “Dee, you’ve got this.” People who believe me. People who believe my story. People who want to help. And in this, I am humbled and grateful.

The mountains are moving in my life and I am humbled by the beautiful people in my life who are helping me push the mountains aside.

Dee

Grateful #45

I can’t change my circumstances but I can change my perspective. Today I am grateful for Singing.

I love to Sing. I am that person standing behind you, rocking back and forth a bag of flour on my hip, and singing. You might turn around to see what crazy person is behind you and I will look back wondering why you are stepping away from me. You see, I don’t even realize I am singing.

Sometimes I realize, and then I sing all the louder. I will dramatically wave my arms as I sing a dramatic love song in the mall drawing all sorts of attention but not caring. It makes me smile inside and so it’s worth it for me. Singing makes me happy and it brightens my soul. I might not be an artist, but I know how to perform.

Dee

Dear God

Dear God,

I dedicated my life to that man. I cooked every meal. I washed dishes and did all the laundry. If he was out of socks, the laundry fairy went to work straight away. All he needed to do was point out the lack of underwear and clean ones would magically appear folded in his drawer. I ironed his clothes. I vacuumed and washed the floors each week. I ran every errand. When he was out of something, no matter how little, I jumped in my car and picked it up that very moment.

God, I took care of all the children. He only took time for them on Saturday mornings. He didn’t show up for a family photo session and some vacations and so I went anyway with my precious children. I brought them to school, swimming lessons, piano lessons, karate. I changed every diaper. I got up at night with them. I bought and wrapped their gifts for each birthday and Christmas. I took them to every doctor’s and dentist appointment.

God, I did everything so that he could concentrate all his time on his work. I tried to be the Proverbs 31 woman who worked from dawn to dusk and often I worked into the nights as well. I worked full-time to keep the finances afloat while taking care of five children during the day. I worked tirelessly and continuously.

God, I did everything. I dedicated my whole life to that man. I did everything in service to him.

Dee

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Dear Dee,

Yes Dee, you did everything for a man. You did everything for his service. You dedicated your life to him.

And in doing so, you didn’t dedicate your life to me.

Love, God.