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10 Warning Signs of a Spiritual Narcissist

  • Ryan Duncan Crosswalk.com Entertainment Editor
10 Warning Signs of a Spiritual Narcissist

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” - 1 John 4:1

It’s sad to say, but not everyone who claims to be Christian is really a follower of Christ. Many are simply pursuing their own agendas, be it money, fame, or political influence. These false disciples come in many shapes and forms, but perhaps none is more dangerous as the Spiritual Narcissist. A Spiritual Narcissist is someone who uses the Gospel to build themselves up while they tear others down. If left unchecked, their actions can inflict devastating harm on both Christians and non-Christians alike.

Below are 10 warning signs that you may be dealing with a Spiritual Narcissist:

1. They Constantly Reference their own Achievements

1. They Constantly Reference their own Achievements

The Spiritual Narcissist loves to self-promote. For them, every conversation is an opportunity to share just how superior they are to the average believer. They typically go about this by listing off their own achievements. You’ll hear them talk incessantly about their upcoming book, their latest blog post, sermon series, missions work, or that time they led someone to Christ. Scripture tells us not seek our own glory and to let our work stand on its own (Proverbs 27:2), but the Spiritual Narcissist will flaunt anything they believe might bring them praise.

The best way for Christians to counter this display is to follow the example of Micah 6:8, live justly, show mercy, and walk humbly with the LORD your God.

(*Image Credit:©ThinkstockMikeWatson)

2. They Invade Conversations

2. They Invade Conversations

The Spiritual Narcissist craves control, and their highest authority is always their own self-reference. As a result, it’s not uncommon for them to invade the personal or private conversations of others. They’ll often do this under the guise of “helping” or “correcting” fellow Christians, but they have no real interest in two-way dialogue. You’ll notice they also have a way of injecting their own opinions into situations, and are the first voice their complaints about recent events in the Church. The Bible warns that such people create division among believers and serve only their own appetites (Romans 16:17-18, Psalms 36:1-4).

There’s no good way to speak with Spiritual Narcissists (Proverbs 26:4-5), the best response Christians can make is stand their ground and refuse to be bullied.

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3. They Twist Scripture

3. They Twist Scripture

Susan B. Anthony once said, “I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires”. In the same way, a Spiritual Narcissist uses scripture as a tool for their purpose instead of God’s. They approach the Bible with a closed mind, memorizing only a handful of useful verses that will justify their behavior. Anything else, particularly scripture that conflicts with their actions, gets ignored. Like the men of Jude 1:4, they should not to be trusted.

The best defense Christians have against this kind of faulty theology is to simply read the Bible. The more familiar we become with God’s work, the more familiar we become with God.

(*Image Credit:©ThinkstockSIphotography)

4. They Profess Love, but Never Show It

4. They Profess Love, but Never Show It

Perhaps the easiest way to identify a Spiritual Narcissist is to see if their works match their words. Many will claim they have nothing but love and compassion in their hearts for those they rebuke, but their actions prove otherwise. Matthew 7 teaches us that we can judge a prophet by the fruit of his labors, “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.” So, what kind of harvest do they bring to God’s table? Division? Disdain? Cruelty?

Love is more than words, love is actions. That’s what separates the true Christian from the Spiritual Narcissist.

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5. They Talk, but They Don’t Listen

5. They Talk, but They Don’t Listen

Listening can be a powerful tool for Christians. Listening builds trust, creates empathy, and fosters understanding among individuals. James 1:19 even urges believers to be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. The Spiritual Narcissist, by contrast, is quick to speak, quick to take offense, and incapable of listening. They enjoy being the loudest one in the room, and the idea of deferring to someone else galls them.

A true Christian listens to others, even when they might not agree with them. Listening requires that we be selfless, which is the one thing a Spiritual Narcissist can never be.

(*Image Credit:ThinkstockMikeWatson)

6. They Live in Echo Chambers

6. They Live in Echo Chambers

In 1 Kings 22, Jehoshaphat king of Judah and Ahab king of Israel join forces to wage war against a neighboring adversary. However, before they depart Jehoshaphat decides to inquire upon the Lord for guidance. Four hundred prophets parade in front of the kings proclaiming victory is at hand, but Jehoshaphat isn’t convinced. When asked whether there is still a disciple of the Lord they can speak with, Ahab reluctantly admits,

“There is still one prophet through whom we can inquire of the LORD, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.”    

Like Ahab, the Spiritual Narcissist lives in their own personal echo chamber. They surround themselves with indiviguals who will always affirm their existing preconceptions or opinions. Don’t make the same mistake. A wise Christian knows the right answer isn’t always the popular one.

(*Image Credit:@Thinkstockstudiograndouest)

7. They Refuse to Aknowledge Their Mistakes

7. They Refuse to Aknowledge Their Mistakes

No one likes admitting they were wrong. It’s a humbling (and let's be honest, sometimes embarrassing) experience, but accepting responsibility for your mistakes is the first step towards real maturity. Naturally, the Spiritual Narcissist will have none of it. Even when confronted with insurmountable evidence, the Spiritual Narcissist will continue to defend their actions as right. For them, it’s not about the greater good, it’s about protecting their self-image.     

Humility is a precious gift. It allows us to learn from our mistakes, recognize our faults, and grow into better people because of it. Take some advice from Philippians 3:13, accept what you’ve done wrong and strive to live for what comes ahead!

(*Image Credit:blame@Thinkstockslphotography)

8. They Tear Others Down

8. They Tear Others Down

1 Thessalonians 5:11 reads, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing”. A Spiritual Narcissist prefers to do the opposite. Rather than serving as a source of inspiration, the Spiritual Narcissist enjoys being a voice of derision. They’re quick to criticize others for their perceived failings, and frequently cause mischief by enflaming arguments amongst believers. In short, they build their sense of worth by tearing others down.

Scripture tells us the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). A disciple of Jesus should be known for what they build, not for what they break.

(*Image Credit:@ThinkstockSlphotography)

9. They Lead by Force, Not Example

9. They Lead by Force, Not Example

A Spiritual Narcissist makes for the worst kind of leader. They’re petty, uncompromising, spiteful, and controlling. Heaven help the ministry which falls under their stewardship. By comparison, great leaders have always inspired their followers by example. They correct others without humiliating them, mentor those who need growth, and weigh their words carefully before speaking.

Take David, who despite his faults, showed humility and wisdom for God's anointed rulers (1 Samuel 24). What about Peter? He spent his life testifying to Christ’s resurrection and building bridges of fellowship between strangers (Acts 10). Unlike the Spiritual Narcissist, a true leader knows their duty is to serve, not be served.

(*Image Credit:@ThinkstockSlphotography)

10. They Ultimately Put God Second

10. They Ultimately Put God Second

An expert in the law once asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was. His reply,

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’” – Matthew 22:37-40

Many Christians know this verse by heart, but the meaning behind Christ’s words goes much farther than we realize. Not only is Jesus calling believers to love God with all their heart, he’s telling them our faithfulness is affirmed by our love for our neighbors. To put it simply: we can only love God if we’re unselfish. A Spiritual Narcissist will always put God second. Whether it’s by neglecting Christ’s commands, or how they treat their neighbors, pride will always make a person spiritually toxic. Don’t let yourself miss out on God’s amazing plan by being a Spiritual Narcissist.

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Editor's Note: The following was adapted from 5 Warning Signs of a Spiritual Narcissist. To read the original article, follow this link.

*Published 4/9/2018





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