Dealing With Narcissists* – Healing Their Victims

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There is much to learn from how Jesus dealt with the narcissists of His day, the Pharisees (see here and here on how we know the Pharisees were narcissists/scoffers filled with insolent pride).  It is instructive as to what He did and said in His dealings with them, but also what did not do, and did not say.   It is very interesting that in some cases, rather than trying to defend against the narcissists’ actions, He put His focus on ministering to those whom the narcissists “hurt”. Here are a couple of examples: . Continue reading

Your Narcissist Cannot Interfere With God’s Love For You

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Romans 8:28-39

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

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31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

Continue reading

Dealing With Narcissists* – Case Study on “Let Them Alone”

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How Jesus handled His encounters with the narcissistic* Pharisees are very instructive.  The following encounter is a case in point.

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Matthew 15

15 Then some Pharisees and scribes* came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother is to be put to death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God,” he is not to honor his father or his mother.’ And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you:

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This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far away from Me.
But in vain do they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’”

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10 After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them, “Hear and understand. 11 It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.”

12 Then the disciples *came and *said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement? 13 But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”

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There are several things to consider here:
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  1. The narcissistic* Pharisees (see here and here) were doing a classic indirect attack on Jesus – criticizing Jesus by criticizing His disciples.  The Pharisees’ goal was to weaken their competition (Jesus).
  2. The Pharisees were using another classic narcissistic* move of setting up a standard of their choosing (the tradition of the elders) as the basis for acting as judge over someone else (see here for more on this classic narcissistic tactic)
  3. Jesus decided to challenge the narcissists* (scoffers)  in this instance.  It could be that (as discussed here) He took them on in order to defend His disciples.
  4. His challenge to the Pharisees was not a direct defense of the Pharisees’ accusation.  That would have imputed some credibility to their accusation.  Instead His challenge went straight to the heart of the Pharisees’ real issues
    1. They transgressed God’s law in order to uphold their “own law” (the traditions of men)
    2. They were being hypocrites (see here for more on that), saying the right things (“honor Me with their lips”), but with evil in their hearts (“their heart is far from Me”) (see here and here and here for how narcissists are outwardly righteous but inwardly rebellious)
  5. Jesus did not respond to the Pharisees regarding their accusation, but He did make sure that the other listener’s were not deceived or confused by what the Pharisees had said.  So, HE did provide them with the clear truth (defilement comes from the heart, not from what you eat), in contrast to the Pharisees’ self-centered “doctrine”.
  6. The result of the narcissistic* Pharisees being actually challenged by Jesus was that they were offended.  No surprise with that.  Narcissists hate being reproved (see here).  “Normal” people would have cowered in fear over the Pharisees’ displeasure, but Jesus did not.
  7. Jesus used the Pharisees’ offense at his statement to make 3 points to the disciples
    1. The Pharisees were not of God, and as a result would ultimately be uprooted
    2. The Pharisees were “blind guides” – they were not qualified to point the way for others.  (The “blindness” of narcissists is discussed here)
    3. Those who followed the Pharisees were also blind
    4. As a result, the best course of action is to “leave them alone” – ie – don’t try to fight them, but also don’t seek to follow them.  Jesus was saying “get on with doing the right things yourselves, and don’t worry about what the Pharisees are or are not doing”

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So, one key way of dealing with narcissists is to “leave them alone” to live in their own little world, knowing that God will sort it all out in the end.  (See here for other discussions on the how “avoiding” is one way of dealing with narcissists.)

* Narcissist is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible calls “insolent pride”  please see here for an explanation

The Four Pillars Of Trust

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Proverbs 3:5-8

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
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This is one of those almost-too-familiar passages that we can often gloss over and say “yes, yes, I already know that one”.  But digging deeper it offers some clear guidance on dealing with the situations in our lives – including the situation with our difficult N.

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Proverbs 3:5-8 describes a very positive outcome, as well as three conditions for that outcome to take place.

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An Illustration of The Impact of Crying Out To Jesus For Help

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I had lunch with a friend a couple of weeks ago, who told me a moving story that underscores the importance of simply crying out to the Lord in times of trouble.

The friend’s mother was a serial “marry-er”, who was also on a quest for “power”.  When he was young she was involved in witchcraft as a means of experiencing more power.  He did not know his father at all.   At one point he threw out all of his toys, because they were “talking to him” (demonic activity in his room).

His mom did occasionally go to church, so my friend had some awareness of Jesus.  At one point sometime before age 8 he was so desperate he cried out “Jesus, SAVE ME!”.  He believes that not only did he become a genuine Christian then, but the Lord took that cry for help and did much more.

At age eight his mom took him to a particular church down the street just one time in order to impress her current boyfriend.  She did not go back, but he continued to go.  After awhile a lady in the church noticed that he was always there by himself, and took him under her wing, picking him up for events, paying for him to go to camp, and more.  At age 18, the pastor of the church started mentoring him further.  Even though he had no earthly prospects for proper guidance in his life, Jesus provided.  Later, God has blessed him further through having his own family and a prosperous business.

In response to my friend’s cry, Jesus saved him on several levels – not only for eternity, but also out of his seemingly impossible circumstances.

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For more on the importance of looking to the Lord for help, please see Dealing With Narcissists – Crying Out Seeking God and Dealing With Narcissists – Crying Out Seeking God Continued

 

 

Dealing With Narcissists – Jesus, Simon, and the Woman

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While Jesus often taught about how to respond to life situations from a “Heavenly perspective”, He also frequently demonstrated it.  One example that is relevant to our study on how to deal with narcissists is when Jesus was invited to dinner by the Pharisee, Simon.

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Luke 7:36-50

36 Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume,38 and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.

39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.”

40 And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” Continue reading

Dealing With Narcissists – Fact Check Everything, continued

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Proverbs 18:17

17 The first to plead his case seems right,
Until another comes and examines him.

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In the perfectly robust way that God designed His Word, a specific point of Biblical wisdom can often be applied to a wide variety of circumstances. Continue reading

Dealing With Narcissists – Focus On What You’re Doing, Instead Of What They’re Saying

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Matthew 11:16-19

16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, 17 and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”

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Foundations – HE Knows Your Need

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Others frequently state things far better I.  Following is one instance.

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HE Knows Your Need  

by John Piper, DesiringGod.com

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“Do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” (Matthew 6:31–32)

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“Jesus wants his followers to be free from worry. In Matthew 6:25–34, he gives at least seven arguments designed to take away our anxiety. One of them lists food and drink and clothing, and then says, “Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all” (Matthew 6:32).

Jesus must mean that God’s knowing is accompanied by his desiring to meet our need. He is emphasizing we have a Father. And this Father is better than any earthly father.

I have five children. I love to meet their needs. But my knowing falls short of God’s knowing in at least three ways.

First, right now I don’t know where any of my children are. I could guess. They’re in their homes or at work or school, healthy and safe. But they might be lying on a sidewalk with a heart attack.

Second, I don’t know what is in their heart at any given moment. I can guess from time to time. But they may be feeling some fear or hurt or anger or lust or greed or joy or hope. I can’t see their hearts. They don’t even know their own hearts perfectly.

Third, I don’t know their future. Right now they may seem well and steady. But tomorrow some great sorrow may befall them.

This means I can’t be for them a very strong reason not to worry. There are things that may be happening to them now, or may happen tomorrow, that I do not even know about. But it is totally different with their Father in heaven. Our Father in heaven! He knows everything about us, where we are, now and tomorrow, inside and out. He sees every need.

Add to that, his huge eagerness to meet our needs. Remember the “much more” of Matthew 6:30, “If God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you?”

Add to that his complete ability to do what he is eager to do (he feeds billions of birds hourly, around the world, Matthew 6:26).

So join me in trusting the promise of Jesus to meet our needs. That’s what Jesus is calling for when he says, “Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.””

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Putting “Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism” Into Perspective

Narcissist Tactics – Sniping At Those of Whom They’re Jealous (Pharisee Case Study)

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Luke 5:29-32

29 And Levi gave a big reception for Him in his house; and there was a great crowd of tax collectors and other people who were reclining at the table with them. 30 The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?”31 And Jesus answered and said to them, It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

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The Pharisees were jealous that Jesus, instead of themselves, was getting the attention and honor from a great crowd at this reception organized especially for Him.  Rather than recognize their own jealously, they began to sneeringly condemn and criticize everyone else at the reception.  They took a condescending, judgmental, holier-than-thou attitude toward the entire crowd by labeling them all as sinners, and then arrogantly judged Jesus for not separating from the guests.  They showed their insincere cowardice by whispering against Jesus behind his back instead of directly addressing him with their concerns.   This was all an arrogant outflowing of their jealously – cloaked as “holiness”.

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Jesus knew about the Pharisees grumbling to His disciples.  He could have rebuked them for the jealously at the root of their comments, or for their insolent pride at looking down their nose at virtually everyone in the room.  However, instead of getting down in the mud with the Pharisees, He pointed them and anyone else listening to a much higher point – the need for everyone who was willing to recognize (by admitting they were spiritually “sick”) their need for repentance.  The Pharisees in their pride would, of course, not recognize their need, and therefore would not receive healing.

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This was a subtle rebuke to the Pharisees’s self-centered blind jealously, and in the process, Jesus communicated to His listening disciples His willingness to engage with people for their benefit.  And in the process, He demonstrated Proverbs 26:4-5:

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Proverbs 26:4-5

Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
Or you will also be like him.
Answer a fool as his folly deserves,
That he not be wise in his own eyes.

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Putting “Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism” Into Perspective

 

 

 

The Fruit of Weakness – David and Saul

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David to Saul (a narcissist) – I Samuel 24:10-12

10 Behold, this day your [Saul’s] eyes have seen that the Lord had given you today into my [David’s] hand in the cave, and some said to kill you, but my eye had pity on you; and I said, ‘I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s anointed.’ 11 Now, my father, see! Indeed, see the edge of your robe in my hand! For in that I cut off the edge of your robe and did not kill you, know and perceive that there is no evil or rebellion in my hands, and I have not sinned against you, though you are lying in wait for my life to take it. 12 May the Lord judge between you and me, and may the Lord avenge me on you; but my hand shall not be against you.

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Saul to David – 1 Samuel 24:18-20

18 You have declared today that you have done good to me, that the Lord delivered me into your hand and yet you did not kill me. 19 For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away safely? May the Lord therefore reward you with good in return for what you have done to me this day. 20 Now, behold, I know that you will surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hand.

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As we discussed here, purposefully allowing ourselves to be weak, rather than resisting, in the face of an attack from a narcissist, allows God to act and provides a stronger testimony to the narcissist and others.

David was a prime illustration of this in allowing himself to be weak in the face of the narcissistic onslaught from Saul.  Even though God had anointed David King, and David had done nothing wrong, and even though he had the strength with his “mighty men” to take Saul head-on, David allowed Saul to chase him, and trusted God to 1.  protect him, 2.  deliver him from Saul, and 3.  establish him as king in God’s time.   Even when David had the chance to kill Saul – which would end it all and fulfill by his own hand God’s declaration that he would be king – David chose to let God act and fulfill His word, rather than taking things into His own hands.

David’s testimony spoke volumes to Saul, with Saul admitting to himself and publicly what he probably already knew in his heart, that David would surely become the King.  David’s allowing himself to be weak and leave things in God’s hands, ultimately showed God’s strength to the nation of Israel, and was a testimony that Saul could not refute.

And, in the end, God dealt with Saul and David became king.

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Additional reading:  “Saul Hunts David”

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Putting “Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism” Into Perspective

Dealing With Narcissists – Two Times The Power Through Our Weakness

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Jeremiah 9:23-24

23 Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; 24 but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord.

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2 Chronicles 16:9

For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His……..”

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Narcissists* are driven to set themselves up in a position of power over us in some form.  By extension, they seek to put us in a position of weakness versus them.  Our natural response is to resist, and to somehow defend ourselves against them.  This ultimately makes it a power play between us and the narcissist, even if it is of the passive-aggressive variety.  The unappealing alternative to resisting is to become a doormat of the narcissist, and allow them to damage us as they run roughshod over us.

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God’s way is for us to be powerless in our own strength, but to then let Him take on the narcissist with His power.  This allows us to be humble and learn trust, while He more fully shows His power, love, and goodness through protecting us.  In this way, “He gets the glory, and we get the help”. Continue reading

Dealing With Narcissists – The Narcissist Pastor

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As we previously discussed in the blog entry Narcissistic Personality Disorder* In The Clergy, the pastorate attracts its fair share of narcissists*.  A church leader with this trait can ultimately be very destructive to a church.  They will operate like the Pharisees, and God’s dealing with them will almost guarantee that the church will not be successful in the end.

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So, what should you do if you realize that you are in a church with a full-blown narcissist as the pastor? Continue reading

Dealing With Narcissists – The Narcissistic Adult Mother

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I have been a little “stuck” on how to move forward with this study on Biblical perspectives on narcissism.  There are subjects which I have started and not finished, and several more subjects to yet work through.  Several people have written to me asking for more practical advice on how to deal with specific situations.  Until now, I have avoided this, partly due to the fact that without finishing the foundational understanding of God’s plan of love, and His using evil for good as part of that plan, some practical solutions will not make sense to many readers.  In addition, it is very difficult to provide counsel remotely, as it is difficult to understand the true situation.

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However, I recently received the following comment from “M” (in Africa, I think), Continue reading

Dealing With Narcissists – Let God Defend You Through His Goodness

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Psalm 119:41-42

41 May Your lovingkindnesses also come to me, O Lord,
Your salvation according to Your word;
42 So I will have an answer for him who reproaches me,
For I trust in Your word.

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For those of us who have tried to defend ourselves in the face of a narcissist’s* attack, we have typically seen that it does not work.  Any defense we make usually just gives the N additional ammunition.  Continue reading

Be Loved, To Love

We Love Because He First Loved Us

Boundlessly Good

God's Motive For All That He Does