Q & A: Is it enough to remove a narcissistic leader from a church? Is there more to do?

I've been involved in a number of situations over the years where toxic leaders were removed, and it takes courage for an elder board or organization to do this. But these are often months-long processes and weary leaders sometimes feel like "we've done what we can, let's just move on." I'll sometimes challenge them to do the deeper work of dismantling and re-imagining the system around that leader to which I'll be met with an exhausted stare or look of confusion. I'll admit - I'm weary by then, too. It takes exceptional courage, resilience, and intentionality to dig even deeper.

Yes, there is more to do, much more.

A sabbatical writing project

I was trained in “story work” and narrative therapy. Intuitively, I started shifting from this years ago. In time, I saw why through the combination of contemplative spirituality, neuroscience, trauma theory, and internal family systems. These awakened me to the significance of the present experience, embodiment, and perhaps most importantly, God’s presence “nearer than our … Continue reading A sabbatical writing project

a short look back at the birth of a book in a pandemic and…what’s next

Friends, what a year. I was in Pasadena from March 9-13, 2020 teaching a doctor of ministry course for Fuller Seminary on conflict, anxiety, and transforming cultures. In that course sat a physicist-turned-pastor who'd worked in Wuhan, China and who shared stories of the lab thought to be the epicenter of a growing concern. Throughout … Continue reading a short look back at the birth of a book in a pandemic and…what’s next

Further Reflections on Narcissism: My Calvin U Lecture

Manuscript: When Narcissism Comes to Church: Further Reflections Calvin University Noon Lecture Series Sept. 3, 2020, 3:00pm Glad to be with you today, even virtually. My daughter is now a sophomore at Calvin, and when I first got invited to speak I imagined a day on campus, maybe working at Peets with Emma, visiting Jack … Continue reading Further Reflections on Narcissism: My Calvin U Lecture

Guest Post: Seeking to Understand the Rise, Fall, and Loss of Young Pastors by Robert Stewart

Bob was born to medical missionary parents in Burundi, Africa.  The father of six, he and his pastoral counselor wife, Shari, share a psychiatric practice in Louisville, KY and have long worked in the support and care of missionaries and pastors both here and abroad. A hundred years from now I’m sure that our descendants … Continue reading Guest Post: Seeking to Understand the Rise, Fall, and Loss of Young Pastors by Robert Stewart

Narcissism is not a “leadership style”

I had a sick, here-we-go-again feeling while reading Kate Shellnutt's Feb 7 piece on the removal of Steve Timmis as leader of Acts 29. But what stopped me in my tracks was this paragraph late in the piece: According to a copy of a 2015 letter sent to Acts 29 president Chandler and obtained by … Continue reading Narcissism is not a “leadership style”