This bad boy lives a self-admiring and self-sufficient way of life. He despises weakness and dependency. He draws his sense of security and satisfaction from being above others, disdainful of and superior to other people -- stronger, brighter, more beautiful, wealthier, less fallible, and certainly more important than others.
The narcissistic religious bad boy is a master of exaggeration of his own accomplishments. He arrogantly overstates his accomplishments and pretentiously shows off a blatant self-assurance. If indeed he is a person of remarkable good looks or high intelligence or has mastered a skill, art or a profession, then he can make the case for himself stick; it seems plausible.
However, the capacity for self-evaluation and self-criticism is absent. If this man becomes a self-absorbed leader in the church, he is likely to project his narcissism onto a large screen of public adulation, which reinforces his feelings of superiority.
This man lives a life of entitlement. To expect him to show genuine gratitude is like expecting a person with no arms to shake hands with you. He has a real spiritual deficit: a lack of the awareness of grace and an incapacity for gratitude. This entitlement even extends to God. St. Augustine's quote, "Good men use the world to enjoy God, whereas bad men use God to enjoy the world" describes his spiritual snobbery. This man seeks to control God. It doesn't occur to him to yield control of his world to God. Religion is magic and the narcissistic is the magician. He tells himself, "I can tell God what to do and He will bless all my ideas." Essentially, this bad boy is above God.
In the church, this man is full of big ideas couched in glowing terms but little detail as to how to put these ideas into specific, concrete action. When told to "put up or shut up" this bad boy will fake it, make elaborate promises, fall into misunderstandings with "inferior" people who don't understand his genius and/or make scapegoats of others.
This man has loyalty tests for those with whom he shares his dreams. If your loyalty does not meet his standard, then you are no longer trusted with his dreams and your relationship with Christ is questioned. He wants people to commit to him with unwavering loyalty to him & his ideals and wild ideas.
Elaborate explanations of what God has "done for me" causes people to ask themselves, "Why is he so special to God?" He has information that arises out of "private talks" with God and uses that information to manipulate and coerce others. The narcissistic bad boy thanks God that bad things don't happen to perfect people like himself, because God gives him preferential treatment.
How can the church help the Narcissistic Religious Bad Boy?
These individuals only ask for help when faced with a serious loss or are in serious trouble. Narcissists are a bundle of creativity that need the taming of God's Holy Spirit. They are a challenge, but it takes an inner awareness that they frankly say about themselves what many others carry as their secrets. We can thank God for a certain naiveté and guilelessness in them. That is a rare metal in the human spirit. But it has to be mined and refined over a period of time by gentle nudgings and confrontations. IF we do not write them off or give up on them, they just may learn (1) that we can be counted on thru thick and thin, and (2) that if anybody is going to break the relationship between us, they will will have to do it.
Much thanks to the deceased Dr. Oates from whom much of this information is taken. His seminal work Behind the Masks should be read by those in positions of leadership in the church.
BE A MAN.