Friday, June 26, 2009
How Many Ministry Professionals Does This Apply To?
So Hollywood is narcissistic? Tell me something I don't know, right? Well, though we live here in Los Angeles, and we see our share of fantastically ridiculous behavior, I was recently surprised and grieved to learn more about the narcissism in this city and how it is effecting our culture at large.One is not permitted to say much, but I have one client that would allow me to come into contact with what he is discussing here and to affirm the point made. It is amazing what a little attention can do to these people.
The core shift in thinking about Hollywood and narcissism was precipitated by these two men a couple years ago. After researching celebrities they published something quite contrary to prevalent assumptions:
"Narcissism is not a byproduct of celebrity, but a primary motivating force that drives people to become celebrities." - Journal of Research in Personality in October 2006.
They explained that it is actually a particular type of brokenness rooted in self-loathing and self-hatred which drives them to pursue public acclaim.
Christians have been quick in the past to boycott and attack these deeply hurting people- sometimes forgetting that they are people. It hasn't helped Hollywood's perception of Christians, and has made it harder to share the gospel with them. Yet, that gospel is what their brokenness yearns for.
Actually. Truth be told. It's the same gospel my brokenness yearns for every day. To be fully known, and yet to be forgiven, and loved- not just by the faceless fans, or the public press, but by the God who died to make me whole again.
But having said that, I could not help but want to turn this particular spotlight on the church. So many churches run on the celebrity model - especially mega-churches. And while I am sure the celebrity preachers believe they are in it for service, how many are driven, subconsciously by the need for attention. I know for fact that such was part of what drove me to my brief stint in professional ministry, and discovering such was part of what drove me out.
It is also true for many that seek volunteer jobs in the church. I bet if you think really hard, you can think of someone just like that in your church right now.
This is one of the many reasons there should be gatekeepers for ministry. We need to send people away and tell them they are not ready for ministry from time to time. We hesitate because narcissism tends to make them leave altogether when they are so frustrated, but they will, I think in the end learn.
But more importantly, the narcissistic motivation can deeply harm the ministry. The narcissistic tend, even though it is unintentional and subconscious, to put themselves in the place that God should occupy in the life of those they minister to. Thus when they screw up, it is easy for the flock to think God has screwed up. It's a pretty ugly cycle and I'm betting you have seen it.
This is a difficult line because I do not think the church is called to be psychologists, but we are called to bring healing and we are called to do good ministry. This stands in the way of that.
If you are in ministry I suggest a careful evaluation, followed by confession.