Abusive leadership in God’s House: A Growing Problem

Abusive leadership in God’s House: A Growing Problem

While Honeysett focuses on how churches as a whole, and bodies of elders gradually lose their way to the detriment of the rest of the church, Kruger spends proportionately more time looking at the spiritual, emotional, and psychological state of the key leaders, particular senior pastors themselves.

Book review, Bully Pulpit: Confronting the Problem of Spiritual Abuse in the Church. By Michael Kruger. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2022. Kindle edition. Powerful Leaders?: When Church Leadership Goes Wrong and How to Prevent It. By Marcus Honeysett. London: IVP, 2022.

The author of Bully Pulpit, Dr. Michael Kruger a teaching elder ordained in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC), a professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC, as well as serving as the seminary’s President. This work, a break from his more focused historical and theological texts, was named as a 2018 Gospel Coalition’s book of the year.

Bully Pulpit is a rough ride, apologies to Teddy Roosevelt. Kruger is a very careful scholar, but his work serves as an alarm bell. It is an amalgam of close Bible reading, personal experience as an elder in the church, and a compilation of news. As he proves his case that pastoral, or, perhaps more to the point, ordained elder abuse is not only possible but on the rise, he also addresses approaches to dealing with the problem.

His approach diverges from that of Marcus Honeysett’s Powerful Leaders? While Honeysett focuses on how churches as a whole, and bodies of elders gradually lose their way to the detriment of the rest of the church, Kruger spends proportionately more time looking at the spiritual, emotional, and psychological state of the key leaders, particular senior pastors themselves.

Before plunging into a catalog of dysfunctionality, the author identifies the vocational heart of the elder. This is summed up in the Old and New Testament descriptions of the shepherds of God’s people. The shepherds’ principle responsibilities are the protection and care of the sheep. This implies that shepherds sacrificially care for the flock. If it comes down to their own well-being or the needs of the flock, shepherds and under-shepherds’ calling includes the need to sacrifice themselves for others. This, of course, is no easy matter as most of those ordained as elders have families and that entails its own responsibilities. That fact, however, does not erase the elder’s call to shepherd the flock at sacrifice to himself. Eldership is a very difficult calling that not only the elder himself is called to, but his family as well.

Poor, corrupt, or false shepherds are outlined clearly in books such as Ezekiel and Jude. These are recognized by their sins of commission and omission. So, they do not feed the sheep, care for needy sheep, rescue sheep, etc. At the same time these false shepherds focus on taking care of themselves. This is rather like military officers who focus on their promotions and the perks that come with them, rather than the welfare and promotion of the men and women underneath them. In that way, members are means for a shepherd to gain his ends, his own success. Kruger and others recognize in biblical eldership both a burden and a joy. Another way of putting it is to say that the focus of the elder is not his own welfare; it is the welfare of the sheep. Of course, that means that the elder must be spiritually vibrant, even when hurting, so that he can care for the sheep. It is simply a matter of his ultimate priorities.

Abusive pastors are addressed as “bullies”, titles earned because they exercise leadership in coercive, manipulative, and deceptive ways that promote an excessive use of church politics. At the same time, they often do not openly appear to be bullies. Rather, they play to the crowd, publicly emphasizing their humility and even fallibility without ever deviating from achieving their own goals and plans. They play the hero but embrace their inner Iago. Their goal commonly is to isolate critics, both from each other and then ultimately from the church itself. Those who break with the imposed groupthink are gently marginalized until they either capitulate and rejoin the faithful followers or the isolation convinces them that they need to find another church home.

Kruger describes the outcasts as “refugees” that sometimes come together after their departure in order to find perspective and peace. Two thoughts spring to my mind when considering the authors words. First, they share their stories not out of a desire to gossip, but perhaps to convince themselves that they have done the right thing and they no longer trust the church as a place that truly listens. Secondly, they are still attached to the relationships summed up in the church they just left. They generally do not so sour on church that they reject the institution, but they are lonely. Others, those not specifically treated by Kruger, place as much distance as they can between themselves and the pain that the church represents to them. They cut their ties altogether and start again.

The leadership style that the author keys on is what we have come to know as narcissism. Kruger consults with studies such as Chuck DeGroat’s When Narcissism Comes to Church: Healing Your Community From Emotional and Spiritual Abuse1. These key on particular kinds of leaders described as “obsessively preoccupied with their reputation, influence, success. Rightness, progressiveness, relevance, platform, affirmation, and power.” If biblical leadership is modeled on the servant and the shepherd, these men focus on themselves. The good that they do is a dividend of self promotion. They are driven by an inner compulsion to protect and advance themselves that long predated their engagement with the church they pastor. They can be very aware of what they do and even the effect it has on others, but they are driven to ignore these consequences. Kruger illustrates this sort of leader by citing high profile ministers such as Steve Timmis, the former CEO of Acts 29 or Mars Hill. These celebrity personalities most clearly profile the sort of abusive pastors he wants us to recognize.

Bully Pulpit begins to transcend the world of journalism when he contrasts the standards that promote bully ministers from those highlighted in Scripture. First, he notes the absence of the requirement for strong leadership, vision casting, charisma or dynamism from biblical qualifications for ministers. Focusing on these traits makes the congregation blind to the far more significant character flaws. Kruger is careful to distinguish between limited gifts and character flaws. One may be extremely limited in the exercise of gifts but have a godly character more than sufficient for serving as a godly shepherd of the church. That is not to say that this excuses ministers from growing in both strengths and weaknesses, but it does underscore the need to concentrate fundamentally on the relationship with Christ that produces spiritual fruit seen in godly character.

The Congregation’s discernment of character is a weakness, however, because the congregation is not looking for it. Many congregations superficially settle for anything that allows the show to go on. So, Kruger concludes that leaders and in particular narcissistic leaders are not easily held accountable. In particular because narcissists excel in creating superficial relations with people who then become a sort of bodyguard that defend him against any sort of criticism. He is a very skilled performer on one hand who also has a highly developed strategic sense that knows who he needs on his side. When the critics emerge they are first confronted by the bodyguard.

A natural defense against this sort of reflexive, unthinking defense should be other authorities in the church such as elders. Commonly, however, these become a wall of defense for the corporate authority of elder boards or sessions rather than effective ways that ensure the rights of all of the members and pastoral accountability. When things go wrong in a church’s leadership, a plurality of elders becomes a sort of overstimulated immune system that kills the body rather than treats the disease.

Confrontation in churches dominated by “bully pulpits” becomes a tug of war with leadership on one side and disgruntled parties fighting over their rights. “Jesus’s ministry is paradoxical. You don’t lead by demanding your rights but by giving them up.” Kruger concludes, sadly, that “maybe we have hired men more eager to call down thunder than to don the servant’s towel and wash feet.”

Before continuing, Kruger does note in passing that the incidence of pastoral abuse appears to be on the rise. We should examine this; first to address whether it is it true. Are more pastors abusive than in the past or are we simply better informed via social media and more sensitive to the issue? The author clearly sees it as a mounting problem and I am persuaded that he is correct in his diagnosis. Key clinical studies such as the one reported on by Ball and Puls suggest it is. Theirs was an extensive look at the incidence of clinical narcissistic behavior in Canadian Presbyterian clergy. The results were noteworthy and concluded that clergy were five times more likely to demonstrate narcissism than did the normal population. Kruger’s goal in highlighting these grim facts is not to horrify congregations. It is to exhort them to take their own responsibilities for the health of the church by making sure that their own leaders are held to account for their actions or the lack of them.

“Narcissism in the Pulpit” published by www.epiclesis.org noted that “an inordinate percentage (of narcissists) make their way into Hollywood and into the pulpit.” This article also summarized the basic characteristics of clinical narcissists. These are exaggerated descriptions of self, lack of empathy, verbally abusing others, charm/flattery, confusion of love, contradictory statements, copying authorities, authoritarian, insincere emotions, immature conscience, hypersensitive to criticism, criticalness,  defensiveness, delusions of grandeur, workaholic, use of money, focus on power, sarcasm, impulsivity, territorial, and entitlement.

Let’s take some time to evaluate this list. First, it is difficult to distinguish the frontier between ordinary sin and psychological obsession. Likewise, all humans are, in Calvin’s words, “idol factories.” It is always hard to apply psychological language to the Christian’s understanding of the human condition grounded in the realities of sin and grace. It is vital to develop discernment and structures of accountability that do not give power carte blanche but it is difficult to gauge the depth of attitudes and compulsion.

This is compounded by the difficulty of recognizing problems before abusive leaders seize control of the church. Individuals disposed to the inclination to dominate are also masters of disguise. They flatter and charm. They can be good old boys if need be. They do not introduce themselves as Genghis Khan or Hannibal Lector. In truth, they may be far from both. They must however be recognized for what they are and they must be held accountable. Identifying them before they assume leadership is difficult at best, but churches must put in place means by which to deal with them. Elder boards and sessions always believe they are competent to spot predatory or abusive personalities. I agree with Kruger’s observation that this is rarely the case. Kruger’s observation simply is that these shepherding mechanisms rarely exist. And so, as Sonny and Cher used to sing, “the beat goes on”.

Finally, churches are obligated to take the responsibility of not only holding abusive leaders to account (that is not only restricted to powerful individuals but to pseudo-oligarchies as well), but to minister to them to what ever degree is possible. When abuse is discovered, or more often, patterns of abuse, it must be dealt with. That may require discipline or even dismissal, but the church must proactively have in place processes and structures to help both the abused and their abusers. Christ’s is the way of rescue and we follow him. Kruger, based on his many experiences with a variety of churches, mentions the necessity of reporting abuse beyond dedicated response teams or the local elders themselves. It is difficult but immensely important to avoid any suggestion of conflicts of interest.

An addendum to this is requiring a biblically-knowledgeable congregation of Bereans, capable of identifying and confronting (appropriately) scripture misuse. Abusive pastors, Kruger notes, use scripture as a weapon against critics. It is the job of elders and the people to hold the pastor’s scriptural feet to the fire. Perversely, Kruger notes that Reformed churches that excel in preaching grace generally do so as they increasingly downplay total depravity. That just takes down the church’s necessary defenses. The pastor’s friends, promoters, and sometimes even family are given the responsibility of his oversight. That rarely works in preventing church abuse.

Finally, Kruger addresses the necessity to provide care for the intimidated and abused. What books such as Kruger’s describe is not what we generally label as ‘peacemaking”. These problems are matters of the church not relational conflict overseen by MT 18. Individual complainants should not, in this case, simply be isolated and dealt with serially. Their difficulties, if substantiated, particularly by outsiders, point to systemic sin not episodic conflict. Because of that, the imposition of MT 18 serves as a gag order stifling dissent rather than a means by which individual conflict can be resolved.

Books about Christian leadership are commonplace and books dedicated to dealing with pastoral abuse proliferate at a rapid pace. Marcus Honeysett’s Powerful Leaders?, howeverprovides an instant contrast to the legion of these I have read. It also approaches abusive leadership in a very different, though compatible, way to that of Michael Kruger.

He summarizes the common approach that describes leadership as “influence.” The popular guide to business negotiation, Getting to “Yes” comes to mind. According to that book, the purpose of negotiation is “getting what you want”. Like so many  Christian leadership treatments, the point revolves around accumulating sufficient influence to get Christian churches or parachurches to do what a leader or leaders want. In the popular understanding of leadership, skills and competence prevail.

Honeysett fires his first shot over that bow, quoting Mark 9:35: “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all” (NASB). Citing Jesus’ rebuking of the apostles’ ambition in James and John, Honeysett says bluntly that Christian leaders are not “Jesus’ top generals”. Rather, Christians in leadership positions are led by the Holy Spirit to create bodies of “Christ-besotted worshippers”. Leaders are servants fundamentally, under-shepherds to bring the flock to  feed on God. Skills and competence lack the moral leverage to produce the kind of deep, spiritual Christ-followers that are needed.

The popular focus on influence rather than spiritual embodiment in leaders creates people who develop churches that do not reflect their creator, but rather, look like their leaders. In Honeysett’s words, the wolves in sheep’s clothing we are aware of are far less dangerous than the wolves in shepherd’s clothing. False sheep do less damage than false shepherds.

The Bible’s treatment of leadership is clear but complex. Leadership, under God’s direction, can be a blessing, but the Bible has just as many examples of ungodly leaders and false shepherds as it has good ones. Leadership, therefore, can be a blessing or a curse.

The word of the LORD came to me: Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord GOD: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.

Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: As I live, declares the Lord GOD, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep, therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: Thus says the Lord GOD, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them. (Ezekiel 34:1-10)

Regardless of the apparent risks, God desires and appoints leaders who can indeed represent his will faithfully to his people. In other words, good leaders represent and reflect God to them.

Jesus himself is described as leader and savior by Stephen (Acts 5:30-31). He is the leader who leads by serving however (LK 22: 26-27). Other leaders may be like David, a commander of his people (Isa. 55:3-4), whose flawed hearts belong to God and, in the presence of sin and personal failure, they model lives of repentance for us. Hezekiah modeled repentance and humility so that God saved Jerusalem from the Assyrians. His brilliant leadership had nothing to do with the rescue. God merely heard the prayer of a heartbroken king and rescued his people (2 Kgs 2;1-6). The Book of Judges was filled with leaders, both good and bad (but mostly bad).

The Bible also distinguishes between leaders and elders. Neither were primarily administrators. Churches today blur the clear distinctions between scribal or administrative oversight functions from the core descriptions and responsibilities of elders and leaders, but elders in particular. It seems to me that lumping the categories of leader (especially understood as influencer), elder, and administrator, you create serious risks for cross-contamination.

Honeysett notes that biblical leaders in the church today are those who nourish and equip the flock. Implicit in this is the requirement of leaders such as elders to actually know their own people well enough to encourage and equip them. Equipping itself is an active term. Those who equip are actively equipping. This level of interaction takes time and trust. If either are not present, the leadership enterprise fails. Time and trust have no substitutes in shepherding.

The author introduces us to four features in the church that safeguard the godly integrity of leadership and protect the body from leadership misuse. These are (1) accountability, (2) plurality, (3) transparency, and (4) embodiment.

Leaders lives must be open books lived in the midst of the congregation (2 Tim. 3:10). Their leadership is not characterized by decisions made offsite behind closed doors, in secret. In other words, leadership is fundamentally formal and it is not easy. The point Honeysett makes is that creating leadership that is primarily informal and relational tempts leaders to make expedient decisions that bypass normal channels of checks, balances, and oversight. Appropriate leadership is a difficult balance and in need of constant maintenance. It also places leaders under pressure, because distance from the battlefield is harder to come by. The good news, however, is that it drives leaders into deeper relationships with Christ through prayer, genuine friendships (rather than tactical ones), and the Word. As a pastor, I know that a frequent, though unnecessary,  casualty of ministry is an active and vibrant spiritual life. In order to achieve appropriate accountability, leaders need to be transparent and the only way to achieve this is by guarding and building up the heart.

Honeysett separates accountability from transparency in his list, but they logically interrelate. The difference, he explains later in his book, is seen in accountability being linked primarily to formal structures that ensure it. Visibility and transparency are virtues, but adequate means must be implemented to ensure the integrity of the exercise of leadership. Who oversees the leadership? In our case, we have a Book of Church Order that augments the Westminster Standards and, underneath that as a foundation, the Bible itself. In other words, there are three tiers of formal, directive oversight. But, these are all self-reporting. In other words, leaders are responsible primarily to themselves and each other for conformity to the rules. If the inner circle of leaders is functioning well, the leaders hold each other to account.

As a Presbyterian teaching elder, plurality just makes sense. It distributes the load better. It ensures that every conflict in a church is not me contra mundum. In other words, every difference of opinion is not personal. It also creates a greater opportunity for wisdom through a plurality of wise counselors. That is the theory at least. Part of Honeysett’s purpose is to also describe what happens when pluralities become ineffective or even harmful. For the moment, it is important to grasp that plural leadership was intended to bless not curse. It can be a beautiful thing.

A potential complication results when the small group of leaders/elders is geographically separated from accountability to the wider sphere of leaders. Isolated churches easily develop dysfunctional social, cultural, and leadership patterns. When all you know is who you are, you become the new normal. In these cases, it is incumbent on local leadership to reach out and create wider webs of effective accountability. In other words, if you are ineffectively overseen, though, on paper, it seems that you are, go the extra mile to erect formal, visible procedures with the authorities over you. The absence of these leads to breakdowns in leadership and that means ineffective shepherding.

Embodiment means that leadership is actively on display in the church community. You can see it exercised in the midst of the people. People see decisions being made publicly. Shepherds shepherd visibly. People know exactly what kinds of things their shepherds do. As a missionary, I became acquainted with what sociologists and anthropologists term ‘power distance”. It describes the gap between leaders and followers in terms of power or influence. In a Presbyterian church, there is a difference between elders and members but not an extreme one. The elders are, after all, representatives to God from among the people themselves. Elders are representatives of the people to God and from God to their people.

The heart of the book describes the “slippery slope” from the accountability, transparency, plurality and embodiment that characterizes legitimate leadership to the murky world of dysfunctional, illegitimate leadership. Honeysett describes the slide as the replacement of transparency with secrecy and concealment, the cutting off of any meaningful collegiality, leading to leadership isolation, power imbalances from “on-high” and the corruption of accountability through concealment and cover up.

So much of this is familiar to me. I am an old man. My wife and I have pastored churches, and been pastored in many others. We have seen the good and the bad. I have trained church planters on five continents for over 20 years. In a way, I did not need too many illustrations to understand Honeysett’s argument. What makes the book special, I would add, indispensable, however, is it’s careful description of the transitions from legitimate  to illegitimate, from godly shepherding to abuse. The identification of the slippery slope is the book’s greatest value.

The slide from transparent legitimate authority to leadership characterized by personal power, insecurity and self-protection takes a number of forms. Honeysett describes “regulatory capture” for example that takes place when the leader and the men who oversee him become too closely and relationally intertwined. In this case, the leader and those holding him accountable become so close that accountability becomes meaningless. Analogously, when the leader becomes too closely aligned with the dominant culture of the church and its “priests”, honest critique becomes impossible.

The first step in the slippery slope is often the “non-transparent use of relational authority”. Honeysett quotes Chuck DeGroat’s description of “fauxnerability”. In this case, a leader calculatedly showcases  vulnerability and “messiness” in order to gain sympathy with people. It is designed to increase personal influence by showing people how human and vulnerable one is, even though the calculated nature of its use demonstrates an intelligent intention to deceive. The author juxtaposes this performance with 2 Corinthians 4:2 which condemns such displays of deception. Why do it though? Why mischaracterize yourself?

It is motivated by a desire to manipulate people to get what you want. Leaders corrupt their offices and the structures of the church when they attempt to informally and non-visibly take control of the life of the church, its procedures and policies. I think Honeysett’s general point is that it does not make much difference whether that manipulation is a tendency baked into the personalities of individual leaders or it emerges as an expedient in order to be more efficient. In other words, leaders with extreme issues such as personality disorder and “normal” men who mean well, will stoop to unwise methods that result in dysfunctional leadership. It is a slippery slope. Anyone can get out of control and crash when sufficient care is not exercised.

Eventually, the systems of oversight in the church or organization shift subtly from protecting “gospel integrity” to protecting the underlying organizational culture and its leaders. It becomes an ecosystem of dysfunction and deceit. It’s participants, members and leaders alike, may not recognize what has happened to them. It becomes, in that sense, truly lost. It turns in on itself. Maintaining the system replaces shepherding God’s people. Honeysett’s work has the virtue of describing two sets of circumstances. One is an extreme example with leaders who are, in effect predators. They can correspond to the high profile cases that litter the news. The other example are of good people who make bad decisions that develop dysfunctional momentum as things race to the bottom. This, I believe, is far more common and far more tragic in the sense that it is so preventable.

Men become wolves who speed the decline of their ministries and their churches by looking and sounding just like godly sheep. Honeysett cites Jude (12-13) to say that bad shepherds say good things and look attractive,  but only show their genuine selves when they are challenged or cornered. Winsomeness becomes coercion if the leaders’ control is challenged. The need to maintain control leads to even greater isolation and secrecy. Challenging the status quo becomes dangerous and an arsenal of tactics can be unleashed in order to smother dissent. Social isolation becomes a potent weapon in intimidating any potential whistleblowers. Critics become invisible to both the leaders and, by design, to everyone else. The author uses a psychological acronym to describe the approach to silencing dissent. DARVO, denying that anything is wrong, attacking the challenger, and reversing the roles of the victim with the offender are practiced to maintain control.

The author describes church cultures (tribes) as “echo chambers” who become more concerned with maintaining the social order than they are with the people that inhabit them. They become analogous to bodies whose aggressive, over-stimulated immune systems kill them rather than the disease they try to defend themselves from. The church devolves into groupthink that challenges critical examination or internal reformation.

The final part of the book contains series of questions that can easily become checklists for leaders and members to diagnose the health of their churches. These are useful in facing who you are or have become. Implicit in them are also approaches that can be undertaken to repent and rebuild. Honeysett has given the church an incredible gift in helping each church see itself as an particular, and in some ways, unique, culture. There are patterns of relationships and structures of influence that not only created it, but serve as control mechanisms over it. The title Powerful Leaders? itself becomes a somewhat ambiguous statement. Do distorted leaders distort the church or does the church distort them? Do these coercive, manipulative men own the systems that oversee or are they owned by them?

Honeysett describes healthy churches as analogous to healthy biological cells that are semi-permeable. They filter out harmful elements but are open to outside influences that promote their health. The lack of dynamic exchange between the inside and outside  leads to “fossilization”. These churches fail to change and therefore cannot grow. As Honeysett says, “willful blindness becomes genuine blindness”. Churches are frozen in time, having chosen to maintain a fictional view of themselves. He does not, however, think that things have to end up in that sorry state. They can thrive if they reject the impulse to perpetuate the cultural “pecking orders”, “repenting often, forgiving often and delighting themselves in the Lord.

That is, in effect, the bottom line. Healthy churches know the Lord. Prayer and repentance drive them. They are clear about their mission and their beliefs. They have relatively little cross-contamination. They live in the world but they are not intimidated or attracted by it. Powerful Leaders? makes a spectacularly useful contribution toward reminding churches of their priorities and the pitfalls associated with forgetting them. I highly recommend it.

How shall we sum things up? First, of course, we must recognize that leadership abuse in the church is deadly to its health. It undermines its worship and casts a pall over its legitimacy. The church is created in the image of God in the sense that it is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. We are to resemble our creator. Abusive leadership deflects attention from the God we were designed to reflect. We only see fallenness expressed in power and deceit. True pastoral abuse appears to put the lie to the church’s claim to embrace the holiness and love of God. That is a fatal failure if not corrected by genuine public repentance.

Interestingly, a study of Generation Z young adults (approximately 20-29 years of age) consistently reveals the need for institutions to demonstrate authenticity. In “What Gen Z Looks For in a Church” by Carri Gambill, the author a Gen Z young adult, notes the constant desire for authenticity, fueled I am sure by a skeptical view of institutions (like churches) and practices, that is only really affirmed by truly participating in the ordinary life of these. To her mind, that means being a participant in ministry not an audience entertained by it. Her parents were content with being consumers. Gen Z, according to her, want to really experience what is real. The point is that abusive, opaque, non-participatory power is exactly the wrong way to face the future. Obsessing with the Sunday performance and a giant list of church-based activities does not feed the need.

Protecting abusive, excessive, or haughty leadership also creates a defensiveness that makes us deaf to the prophetic warnings issued to our world-compromised churches by God. Rather, we double down on our rightness rather than rediscover the need to repent.

These two books represent depressing reading. They expose the growing ugliness in the body of Christ. That is very uncomfortable and it is very necessary. I believe they should be in every elder’s library. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.

1 See R. Glenn Ball and Darrell Puls, “Frequency of narcissistic personality disorder in pastors: a preliminary study.” Nashville: Paper presented to the American Association of Christian Counselors. (26 September 2015).

Bill Nikides is a Minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and serves as a church planting strategist with Reformed Evangelistic Fellowship.

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