Home Podcast Chuck DeGroat: How to Recognize Narcissism in a Church Leader

Chuck DeGroat: How to Recognize Narcissism in a Church Leader

chuck degroat

Chuck DeGroat is Professor of Counseling and Christian Spirituality at Western Theological Seminary and Senior Fellow at Newbigin House of Studies in San Francisco. He has served as a pastor at churches in Orlando and San Francisco and has founded two church-based counseling centers. Chuck is a licensed therapist and spiritual director and for over 20 years has been counseling pastors with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), as well as those wounded by narcissistic leaders and systems. He is the author of several books, including his most recent, When Narcissism Comes to Church: Healing Your Community From Emotional and Spiritual Abuse. Chuck is married to Sara and has two teenage daughters.

Key Questions for Chuck DeGroat

-What is “narcissistic personality disorder”? How prevalent is it among evangelical church leaders in the U.S.?

-What is the difference between someone who has narcissistic tendencies and someone who has narcissistic personality disorder? 

-Do you think that churches are particularly susceptible to being taken over by people with narcissistic personalities? 

-What is your encouragement to those who have suffered from someone else’s narcissism?

Key Quotes from Chuck DeGroat

“The faces of narcissism are many.”

“Those who have narcissistic personality disorder can show a kind of faux vulnerability because they can make you think they’re attuned to what others are feeling.”

“We don’t really have hard and fast statistics as far as it goes for pastors. We just know, many of us who do this work have seen the prevalence of it with our own eyes.”

“We talked about narcissistic “style,” “type,” and “disorder.” And I often talked about style as like having a light cold maybe. Type is like a really bad cough on top of a cold, And disorder is like a full-blown flu.”

“Those who do this work are seeing, more and more, men in particular on the narcissistic spectrum, and that’s alarming.” 

“There are features of grandiosity [in a certain personality type] that we might want to have a conversation about.”

“What gives me hope is that pastors are becoming more curious about this.”

“I think that centeredness is so very important. And I’ve worked with pastors who might be on the narcissistic spectrum and they might’ve gotten some feedback…And they’ll do the work to get to a place of greater groundedness. Those with NPD are really not interested in doing that work. There is such a high wall of defense that keeps them from any sense of vulnerability which leads to any sons of honest confession or repentance that that’s where we get into problems.”

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As Vice President of Ministry Mobilization for Outreach, Inc., Jason dedicates his time to encouraging and equipping churches, denominations and ministry organizations to develop their Kingdom effectiveness by creating a culture that is both incarnational and invitational. He also serves as the Executive Director of the National Back to Church Sunday movement and hosts the weekly ChurchLeaders podcast. Jason lives on Anastasia Island, Florida, with his beautiful wife and children. Connect with him on Twitter and Instagram @jasondaye