Christian behavior is easy to fake and many in the church are naïve and gullible and are particularly vulnerable to the manipulations and deceit of the narcissist. The church is a prime hunting ground for narcissists, with little real accountability and significant opportunity for attention and [self] promotion. Narcissists are able and willing to adapt their behavior and words for the purpose of promoting their image and will use organizations, such as the church, to accomplish their goals.Narcissism in the Church, David Orrison
Orrison is right on. His book is excellent by the way – available on Amazon. Notice that he identifies a (perhaps “the”) fundamental motive and makes the narcissist tick. Image. Promoting their image.
The narcissistic message does not build families. Rather, it builds the image.Ibid
Image, image, image. Entire families, as Orrison notes, can be nothing more than a tool used by the narcissist to promote his or her image. That image is, of course, a lie. It is a mask. A counterfeit. A fiction. But wicked people of this kind are often very, very skilled at creating and promoting an image that causes others to even envy them. “Just look at that family. What fine Christians the parents must be!”
Narcissist fathers or mothers work very hard to promote this fictional image. They are stalwarts in their church. They “serve.” They communicate in all sorts of ways that no one else can achieve the level of holiness that characterizes them.
But it is a house of cards. And as the years go by, as the children advance in age, the lie becomes increasingly difficult to maintain. Such a home is devoid of the Spirit of Christ. For all their apparent godliness, inside they are full of dead men’s bones.
When anyone in the slightest way questions the image – the fury of these kind is unleashed. Other people only exist to promote the image. As soon as anyone is perceived as failing to do so, the narcissist has no more use for them. In fact, all along, these superior, entitled types deny any real existence of the people around them. Individuality is not permitted. Other people only exist for one reason – to envy and promote the narcissist’s image.
These types of family units are not that rare, and quite often their chosen field of operation is the local church. They come flattering, but their goal is to use. It is just as Paul warned the foolish Galatians –
Gal 4:17 They eagerly seek you, not commendably, but they wish to shut you out so that you will seek them.