This person lives a self-admiring and self-sufficient way of life. They despise weakness and dependency. They draw their 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.
These narcissists are a master of exaggeration of their own accomplishments. They arrogantly overstate accomplishments and pretentiously show off a blatant self-assurance. If indeed s/he is a person of remarkable good looks or high intelligence or has mastered a skill, art or a profession, then s/he can make the case stick; it seems plausible.
However, the capacity for self-evaluation and self-criticism is absent. If this person becomes a self-absorbed leader in the church, they are likely to project their narcissism onto a large screen of public adulation, which reinforces feelings of superiority.
They live a life of entitlement. To expect them to show genuine gratitude is like expecting a person with no arms to shake hands with you. They have 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 this spiritual snobbery. They even seek to control God. It doesn't occur to them to yield control of their world to God. Religion is magic and the narcissist is the magician. They tell themselves, "I can tell God what to do and He will bless all my ideas." Essentially, this person is above God.
In the church, they are 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" they will fake it, make elaborate promises, fall into misunderstandings with "inferior" people who don't understand their genius and/or make scapegoats of others.
They have loyalty tests for those with whom they share their dreams. If your loyalty does not meet their standard, then you are no longer trusted with their dreams and your relationship with Christ is questioned. They want people to commit to them with unwavering loyalty to their ideals and wild ideas.
Elaborate explanations of what God has "done for me" causes people to ask themselves, "Why are they so special to God?" They have information that arise out of "private talks" with God and use that information to manipulate and coerce others. The narcissists thanks God that bad things don't happen to perfect people like them, because God gives them preferential treatment.
How can the church help the Narcissist?
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.