Healthy Narcisssism of a Christian Leader

To be a Christian leader, and pastor as leader not the least, is a job no one can perfectly fulfil. There is always a war tugging between self-inflated egoistic narcissism and over humble self-sacrificial (victimizing) false spirituality. How to balance it, here is one of the many balance one could cultivate, among many others:

Leaders, in particular, need enough healthy narcissism to confidently articulate a vision, inspire others, and made decisions. Healthy narcissism and self-confidence can coexist with capacities for virtues such as empathy and humility. In face, spiritual traditions that encourage excessive self-negation risk promoting the false humility that eventually results in covert narcissism.

S. Sandage, “Spirituality and Health," in F. L. Shults and S. Sandage eds, Transforming Spirituality: Integrating Theology and Psychology, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 214.

對「Healthy Narcisssism of a Christian Leader」的一則回應

  1. I wonder whether a noun should not be understood from itself and on its own instead from this or that qualificative adjective given to it.

    In the case here, narcissism by definition means ‘exceptional’ or even ‘too much’ admiration that one has for oneself, a concept used usually in a disapproving tone. This suggests that narcissism is by nature always too much (not just ‘enough’) and therefore unhealthy. Therefore, if I feel good about, and am good at, what I do, I would probably just call it confidence. I will allow it to be described as healthy or unhealthy; and either way it is still confidence.

    It is quite understandable that the qualified terms ‘healthy narcissism’ and ‘excessive self-negation’ are used here in a forceful attempt to move the already tilted pendulum towards the opposite pole in order that the lack of confidence might be corrected. The truth is, however, that both narcissism and self-denial could be said to be healthy (or appropriate, helpful, edifying …) or unhealthy (or excessive, harmful, destructive …), if one were allowed to be entitled to add to a noun whatever adjectives, even the ones which are contradictory to the noun they are meant to modify.

    Anyway, just some random thoughts. I have nothing against healthy spirituality, especially that of a leader. And on which side of the pendulum do you locate yourself? The healthy side or the unhealthy …? No, I should say: the side of self-confidence or that of self-negation? 🙂

  2. You are right. Probably to modify a now with an adjective crashing with what the noun conventionally conveys is inviting to itself more problems than to advocate a newly defined meaning. I don’t know about the context of the paragraph which I in fact quote from another book instead of the exact article I list. Maybe the author has a reason to put it this way given what he or she has argued.

    Narcissism of course is not something one should encourage. It is more of a potential PD (personality disorder) than a healthy spirituality.

    You are right as well about healthy and unhealthy self-denial. However, due to one’s unhealthy personality, a self-denial imitatio Christi can also become a cave or a cocoon like cover-up to actually prevent one from growing up spiritually.


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