Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Mobbing Can Also Happen at Church

Mobbing in a workplace setting was something that was virtually unheard of until the 1980's, when a Swedish-based researcher described what happens when a group of people gang up on a coworker. Since then, this type of behavior has either become much more common or much better known. (I personally think it's a combination of both.)

Unfortunately, mobbing can happen anywhere a group of adults tend to gather, even at church. As with workplace mobbing, the goal is to drive the target out. It's usually successful because church bullies only rise to power if the leadership is weak.

Once this dynamic starts, and you become aware of it, the situation probably can't be fixed. The pastor likely won't help you, either because he doesn't know about it, he doesn't care about it, he doesn't believe it's happening or he believes he's powerless to do anything about it. Try not to judge him too harshly, as there may be extenuating circumstances you don't know about.

One of the best ways to prevent becoming a target at church is to fly under the radar and not get involved with various projects. Don't join church boards and committees. Narcissists are drawn to religious groups, partly because they afford them ample opportunity to run things and push other people around. Since that's the case, it's best to stay out of their way.

Flickr photo by Lucid Nightmare

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

With Bullies it's all About Control - Church Bullies are No Different

A bully attempts to control and dominate others, and he or she will use the most underhanded techniques to do so. Many (if not all) bullies suffer from malignant narcissism or another personality disorder. Because they have over-inflated egos, they also feel entitled to special treatment. This means they expect things to always go their way. Anyone who doesn't agree with them is subject to severe punishment. To a bully, other people are objects, to be used in an effort to achieve their objective of absolute power.

You'll find bullies at church, playing up to the pastor and trying to usurp his authority. Church provides the perfect environment for a bully. Christians are called to bear with one another, which is why a lot of bizarre behavior is tolerated, when it would never fly in the corporate world. Being non-judgmental is a lovely virtue. But, at some point, we have to use our discretion, and not stand by when someone else is being abused. This is not virtuous. It's cowardly, and God expects more from us. Our righteousness has to exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees.

Flickr photo by Rock City Kennels

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Even Pope Francis has Mentioned the Scourge of Narcissism

It shouldn't surprise us too much to encounter narcissistic behavior in church. Even Pope Francis mentioned this prevalent personality disorder during an interview last fall, in which he claimed some spiritual leaders have been "narcissists."

So it only makes sense that this behavior trickles down into the pews. You'll find narcissists in parishes, typically in positions of leadership, because they like to run things. That's why it's better to stand back and let them.

The Catholic Church is both divine and human, just as Christ was when he came to Bethlehem 2,000 years ago. It's made up of imperfect people. Sometimes it's the pastor who has narcissistic traits. If that's the case, he will surround himself with other like-minded people. Narcissists tend to cluster, in order to support one another.

Walking into a church doesn't mean it's going to be Heaven on earth, because that's not possible this side of the veil. I believe this information is very important, especially for someone who's been away from church and is now coming back.

There is a tendency to jump right in enthusiastically and do all you can for God, to make up for lost time. But, because there's so much sin right now, the devil is extremely powerful. Newly reverted Catholics are very excited about their faith, and they want to share it. However, this enthusiasm may not be received well by some of the long-time parishioners, especially if they have narcissistic tendencies.

Flickr photo by Howdy, I'm H. Michael Karshis

If you'd like to read more about female narcissism, please visit my Female Bullies blog.