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Narcissism isn't a Leadership Style


Narcissism isn’t a Leadership Style.

I have worked alongside leaders who forgot the vital gospel principle of leaving their self-interests aside for others’ good. When you become consumed with yourself, the gospel has little room to work through you.

Narcissus, a Greek mythological figure, distinguished for his beauty, fell in love with his reflection in the still waters of a spring, and killed himself because he could not have himself. Some leaders are motivated by their self-glorifying success. It results in an excessive ambition and drive and can result in narcissism—a social epidemic of our day.

Narcissism is a personality trait encompassing grandiosity, arrogance, self-absorption, entitlement, fragile self-esteem, and hostility. Narcissistic leaders have grandiose belief systems and leadership styles and are generally motivated by their needs for power and admiration rather than empathetic concern for the constituents and institutions they lead.[1]

I witnessed several leaders self-destruct with narcissistic behaviors. Some believed they deserved sexual pleasure outside of marriage or money belonging to the ministry. Some led with a bully mentality utilizing fear, shame, and false accusations as their weapons to build a self-centered platform. A gospel leader is not a celebrity; is not the center of attention; draws no attention to self; is not boastful.


A gospel leader is not climbing the ladder of success. They are too busy shouldering others up the ladder.


Jesus' words speak directly to the narcissistic tendency inside all leaders, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it” (Mark 8:35). Gospel leaders leave the natural man buried in the grave and are raised to walk in the newness of life (Romans 6:3-5; 2 Cor. 5:17).

Gospel leadership is all about leading the church toward Jesus. If you lead others toward yourself, your style, preaching, network, denomination, or church, then the gospel is distorted.


[1] Seth A. Rosenthal, Todd L. Pittinsky, “Narcissistic Leadership.” The Leadership Quarterly Vol. 17, 6 (2006): 617-633. Accessed October 08, 2020.


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