Month: January 2011

dealing with difficult people :: obsessive compulsives

Be perfect as your God is perfect.  This is the motto of the obsessive-compulsive.  With a penchant to criticize and a gift for seeing things everyone else misses, the obsessive-compulsive is the ultimate Monday morning critic.

Dear Pastor:  I’m concerned.  I couldn’t help but notice that you failed to highlight the importance of Reformation Day this year once again.  This is the third year straight.  I mentioned this in my letter dated November 5, 2008.  If you recall, that letter stated my firm belief that Reformation Day helps counter the false messages our youth receive this time of year, and also highlights the most important moment in Christian history – that time when Luther corrected the Papists.

On and on it goes, noting your failures, highlighting missed opportunities, asserting a message with a one-two punch of moralism and certainty that can be a knockout punch to a young pastor or leader.

I’ve received many emails like this over the years.  But the word I hear over and again is this: concern.  I’ve had so many people concerned with something I said or did or taught over the years that I likely would have been burned at the stake in an earlier time.  But today, Obsessive-Compulsives tend to use words as the sword.  They catch something you said, perhaps inadvertently.  Or, they see you sliding down the slippery slope.  Or, they see a flaw in your budget numbers.  Or, they notice a neglected area of ministry in your church.  Whatever the case, they are detectives on the job, catching every flaw, ready to prosecute.

I’ve told this story before, but it’s worth retelling.  I chaired a Presbytery committee for quite a few years, introducing potential candidates for pastoral ministry.  During one meeting, I introduced a young candidate, saying, “I’d like you to meet John.  I’ve known him for some time.  He’s a really good guy.”

A Presbyter stood and raised his hand: “Point of personal privilege!”

I had no idea what was going on.  But he continued, saying to me, “Brother, can we say that anyone is good?”  I was speechless.  Perhaps I grunted.  Or maybe I just moved on.  I had no idea what to say.  In fact, there have been times when this kind of concern has become white noise, so ludicrous that it can be easily dismissed.

But if you are a leader, working with an Obsessive-Compulsive can be exhausting.  You find yourself constantly watching your back.  You check your email, noting certain names, names which seem to reappear with consistency and with the inevitable concern.  I was talking to a CEO recently who told me that a particular employee was both brilliant and brutal.  He loved his tenacity, but loathed his constant barrage of criticism.  Eventually, he sacrificed the man’s contribution to the company for his own sanity.

Obsessive Compulsive behavior manifests in different ways.  It can manifest in a kind of moralism that sees the faults in everyone else.  It can manifest in a penchant for certainty that refuses to acknowledge gray areas.  It can manifest in a perfectionism which makes everyone else around feel uneasy and inadequate.  It can manifest in performance-driven leadership that majors on measures and minors on mentoring.  It can manifest in theological arrogance, which demonizes all who don’t “get it” (seen on both sides, among liberals and fundamentalists).  It can manifest in organizational filibustering, where certain people simply stall processes in order to prevent change.  Clearly, it shows up in many ways.

I’ve found that dealing with Obsessive Compulsives can be very, very difficult, given the high degree of certainty maintained.  They can be confused with narcissists, at times, because of their penchant for power and lack of empathy.  They live for control, which minimizes any opportunity for mystery or uncertainty.

That said, I’ve found that simply being honest instead of engaging in a power-play with Obsessive Compulsives can bring about some meaningful conversation.  You must respect their need for a high level of detail, and behind that a need for respect.  Show respect.  Acknowledge their contribution when and where you see it.  But also invite their trust.  I’ll end with a letter I sent to an Obsessive Compulsive critic several years back:

Dear Bob (not the real name):

Thank you for your letter.  I wondered if you might be concerned with that decision, and I see you were.  And I respect your thoughtful response.  Thanks for emailing me right away, and thanks for trusting that I’d receive your criticism.  I want to be that kind of leader, though it’s always hard to be criticized.

You probably already know that I don’t see this the same way as you do.  But I want to make sure that when we disagree, we can still maintain a relationship, and even have a give-and-take debate over the issues.  I thought it was important do this now.  And I want you to know that I consulted with a few of my closest colleagues, men and women who are not apt to simply say ‘yes’.  They gave me some constructive feedback, and I even decided to implement the plan differently based on that.

That said, it would help me, at times, if you also spoke to what I did well.  It seems that I only hear from you when you are critical.  I’d really value bringing you into the process more if I knew you could bring both praise and criticism, encouragement and concern.  We all need that.  God knows I do.  One of my main personal policies, from the very beginning, was to be very aware of my own capacity to screw up, and to own that when I do.  I am very willing to acknowledge my own limitations.  But what I want you to do is to trust me to be a leader who you may disagree with, but who you can respect.  Can you do that?

I do hope so.  I feel like you have much to contribute.  But I’m also aware that I’ve been placed in a role where I’m called to give you some hard feedback at times, too.  I hope I can do that.  Please do let me know if that is invited.  And let’s continue this conversation at our lunch next Tuesday.  I’m looking forward to it.

Peace,

Chuck

dealing with difficult people :: the borderline

I’ve been supervised by some fantastic clinicians over the years. In fact, these are men and women who I’d trust with my own family. Yet, invariably the very best clinicians I have been around will say, “I’ll see almost anyone for therapy, but I refuse to see borderlines.”

Who is a borderline? The clinical diagnosis is pretty severe, but I can tell you what I often see. Borderlines have a vicious push-pull in their relationships. The old description is “Passive-Aggressive Personality Disorder.” At one moment, they love you. At the next, they hate you. They enter your church pledging to serve with loyalty. But, then you get the inevitable email.

Dear Pastor: I am concerned. I’m not sure if I can continue serving if you continue to   pay your musicians.  Think and pray about this.  I have shared my concerns with my community group, and you’ll likely hear from them too.  By the way, looking forward to seeing you at the Christmas party!!!

If you lead an organization, a borderline personality can be your greatest source of confusion. His confusing push-pull makes you think you’re crazy. You second guess your responses. You hyper-evaluate your conversations. Maybe I did do something wrong, you think. But then you you realize that you haven’t. In fact, you’ve given more than you should have to this person. Why does this feel so crazy?

My supervisors who refused to see borderlines often said that each borderline case was the equivalent of 3-5 normal clients. Their boundary in not seeing borderlines was a result of years of experience.  Most therapists are paid by the hour, but clients that take much more emotional and physical energy can be draining, both personally and professionally. One therapist I knew told me that her borderline clients would send emails and make phone calls often during the week and in between sessions, requiring time she simply was not able to give. And this resulted in an inevitable feeling of rejection by the client. It was a no-win situation.

You know you are dealing with a borderline when you begin expending more emotional energy than you’re used to expending for one person. You become caught up in email exchanges that seem to have no end. You get roped in to meetings that produce little resolution. And you feel like you are always the problem. You see, borderlines are men and women who have experienced extraordinary pain and rejection, but project that on to you.  You become the father who rejected them. You become the mother who wouldn’t listen.  And, if you are not aware of this psychological interplay, you are quickly sucked in to a vortex of frustration and futility.

I can tell you that from my own experience, pastoring, counseling, and leading borderlines is difficult work. As a therapist, I find that boundaries are often more clear than when I’m in a pastoral relationship. Yet, a borderlines will inevitably find the weak spot in the wall, exposing the faulty boundary and taking advantage. As a pastor, I find that my need to please will inevitably combust, as helping a borderline will inevitably lead me to doubt myself, and perhaps even lead me to want to quit the ministry. Many fellow pastors have expressed this over the years. If you are a pastor, a manager, or a leader dealing with this personality, you’ll be inclined to ask yourself, “Why did I choose this vocation in the first place?”

That said, I’ve noticed that most people react to a borderline personality. We get angry.  We become hostile. We power up. And this is a natural reaction. However, this only further convinces the borderline that he is a reject. In other words, when we get caught up in the back-and-forth game, it only serves to alienate the person we’re trying to care for. Loving a borderline requires a certain emotional tenacity. We need to be both compassionate towards that rejected and vulnerable part of the borderline, and be firm and direct with the part of the borderline’s personality that chooses to engage in battle. We express care, but we don’t give in. And this is the great art of caring for a borderline.

Jenny came to me for pastoral care after sending several amazing emails praising me for my great sermons, my sensitivity to people’s needs, and my gift for writing. Immediately, I was suspicious. She wanted to see me to talk about “men.” In one session, I learned that she hated her boss, her father, her male colleagues, her male community group members, and her senior pastor. For now, I was the good pastor. However, I was a male too. And I knew this would likely get ugly.

It did.

After several seemingly productive sessions, I (and her community group leader) received an email telling me that I had not responded to her emails promptly, and that I was far too passive in our sessions, not giving enough advice. Her later emails would go further. I wasn’t using the Bible in sessions. I didn’t pray at the end of the session. I ignored her phone call during an hour that she knew I was free. I ignored her suggestions for single’s ministry.

And then, she told me she’d be emailing my senior pastor to tell him that I was inept and should be fired.

This happened almost 10 years ago, and this is when I knew that my clinical supervisors were on to something. Refusing to see borderline clients, they were avoiding an inevitable exercise in exhaustion and frustration. One supervisor even dared to be honest with me saying, “Chuck, I think it will take you longer for you to see. You are fairly idealistic. But you’ll soon understand.”

Having worked with borderline men and women for many years now, I am exhausted. The passive-aggressiveness is crazy-making. But, my supervisor was right many years ago. I’m idealistic. I refuse to believe that these men and women are somehow beyond help. As a pastor, I’m compelled by Augustine’s idea that the church is both a bride and whore. She’s beautiful, and she’s a mess. And I’m called to love her.

On the best days, I remember this. On my worst, I want to quit. That’s the deal with leadership. I got in to ministry for the glory of it – my glory. But, I’ve learned that God teaches us hard lessons about our impatience, and more devastating – our inability to love. I have a very hard time loving borderlines. Maybe you can relate.

I wish I could end with a story of overcoming my own struggle with this. But I can’t. I am still learning what it means to love the borderline. I’ll let you know if I ever figure it out. But I doubt it. That’s what makes surrender and dependence on God all the more sweet. One day, perhaps I’ll come face to face with Jesus, and he’ll say, “Chuck, you were very hard to love. Always back-and-forth, loving-and-hating. One day you’d be loyal. The next, you’d betray me. It was hard to love you but I never quit.”

If you are in a helping profession, never forget that your own crap smells too.

Helping the borderline requires a kind of patience that I pray to have. He can wreak havoc on your church or organization, and you may need to make hard choices. Wisdom, at times, dictates that you protect the other sheep from the predator. But, I’m learning the art of compassion, albeit very slowly. After all, God has shown it to me.

dealing with difficult people :: histrionics

Having talked about narcissists, we now turn to the histrionic.  Psychologists place Histrionic Personality Disorder within the same cluster as Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but each is different, requiring unique approaches both to understanding and intervening with compassion.  That said, those of us who work in the church, as well as those of you who manage organizations, know the histrionic personality.  Look for drama, and you’ve found it.

As an empathetic person (in general…ask my wife if that’s true always!), I tend to be drawn to people in need.  If someone is struggling, I like to consider myself a person who cares.  I’m prone to show up and listen.  I’m apt to be there when the proverbial sh*t hits the fan.  But I learned many years ago that for some, the sh*t keeps hitting the fan, and hitting it, and hitting it, and hitting it, and hitting it.  And herein lies the drama.

In your small group, they tend to have a different problem each week.  “My prayer request this week is for my most recent struggle – my clothes dryer.  It’s acting up again.  It’s making a funny sound.  I’m not sure what’s up, but I’m sure this is going to be another huge bill and another big problem.”  At this point, you realize that the clothes dryer came up about 6 months ago.  It’s cycling around again, literally.  And guess what?  You’ll likely get a call this week.  “John, can you come and take a look at this?  I’m sure its nothing but I could sure use your help!”

In your organization, histrionics tend to have sick days for different reasons each week.  “I’m just calling to say that I need to see the doctor again.”  You can’t say no, obviously, or you’d appear to lack empathy.  But it keeps going.  The heat is too high or too low.  Email is too slow.  Your cube-mate is irritating.  No matter the issue, you know one thing – there will be an issue.  As the manager, you expect the email, the meeting, the inevitable complaint.

In the church, it’s difficult to deal with a histrionic.  After all, as Christians we are supposed to be the most compassionate.  But what I often tell students (and future pastors) is that compassion may mean tough love.  Histrionics can devour you, using up the last ounces of energy you have.  They live in a storm of drama which, to some extent is real, but in large part masks the real struggle underneath.  The key is to get to the good stuff underneath, but you must often deal with the storm before that.

The analogy is a hurricane.  Histrionics live a hurricane-life.  People experience them as a whirlwind.  Drama surrounds them.  However, in the eye of the storm is a peaceful center, a place where you can find a real person.  The question is:  Can you endure the hurricane?  Most cannot.  And this is because the hurricane comes with extraordinary damage.  The winds beat you down.  You feel the intensity of the drama coming at you, over and again. Histrionics come at you with a fierce resolve:  I’m tired.  I’m being attacked by friends again.  I’m sick.  I’m not sure anyone likes me. You want to be patient, loving, and compassionate.  But you are quickly becoming impatient, tired of the relentless litany of struggles.

I remember seeing a histrionic for counseling.  For weeks, she came in again and again with yet another story of tragedy each week.  At first, I was empathetic.  Then, I was confused.  Finally, I got it.  I was in the hurricane.  I realized that there was something behind the strong winds, beneath the drama.  But how would I get to it?  Finally, she came in one day with a drama to top all dramas.  I said, “You’ve put on quite a performance.  Yet another incredible story!  But here’s the deal.  I don’t want to see you on stage anymore.  I’d like to be invited behind the curtain, to see the real you.”

In time, she let me behind the curtain.  And I saw a more vulnerable and believable person than I ever saw before.  Often times, those of us who lead, whether in churches or in organizations, need to see both sides of the histrionic.  The outer hurricane winds are annoying, if not destructive.  However, if we endure, patiently entering into the tender and vulnerable interior, we find that real self.  And that is where we can show extraordinary love and compassion – the compassion of Jesus.

part 2 :: dealing with difficult people :: narcissists

In the previous post, we looked at some very basic contours of the narcissistic personality.  In fact, I said we’re all narcissistic to some degree.  Some of the great leaders, politicians, pastors, and influencers have narcissistic tendencies.  Honesty requires that we see our brokenness and admit it honestly.  In interviews with potential counselor hires over the years, I’ve always asked, “What personality disorder would you most identify with?”  It’s always very encouraging to me when someone answers, “Oh, I definitely struggle with narcissistic tendencies.  It’s been a big part of my own work in therapy.”

That said, how do we deal with narcissists, in our church or organization?  In Bold Love, Dan Allender provides helpful categories.  Again, categories are just that…categories.  They are inherently limited.  But Allender argues that people can be understood in three basics ways:  as normal sinners, as fools, or as evil. I’ll discuss these in the context of the narcissist.  (In this post, I’ll switch to the feminine pronoun not because women tend to be more narcissistic, but because I used the masculine pronoun in the first post.)

The normal sinner has been hurt and hurts others.  She is aware of some of her stuff, but blind to other aspects.  Relationally, she is far from perfect.  She’ll be disappointed if, for some reason, she’s not not allowed into the inner circle of power.  She’ll enter a room monitoring, looking for the most important person.  Her first thought in a difficult situation might be, “How will this affect me?”  However, when honestly challenged by a friend, she’s quick to own her stuff.  When told by her boss that she is going to need to relax into a secondary position without authority, she’ll feel like a failure, at one level.  And she’ll be disappointed.  But it won’t slay her.  She’ll see her own stuff wrapped up in it, and say, “This is probably best for me…a necessary part of my growth.”  When she does become the boss, she is open to feedback, noticing that her continual default will be to expect compliance.  She’ll own her own lack of empathy, and continually work on growing as a leader.  The normal sinner, in fact, is a part of the messy and often dysfunctional family we call the church.

A fool is far more difficult.  When challenged, her reaction is defensive.  When confronted by a boss, she might say, “I have to be this way because you are so hard to work with.”  Her gravitational pull is always self-focused and self-centered.  In a group, she can be empathetic for the sake of greater sway with others, ultimately asking about another to bolster her influence.  She needs to be close to power.  Her self-promotion makes complete sense in her world, but is strangely uncomfortable for everyone around her.  In fact, she feels entitled to be a leader, an influencer, out-in-front.

Because of all of this, she is very, very difficult to challenge.  In an honest conversation with a fool, you find yourself talking in circles.  Your words don’t seem to penetrate to an honest, self-reflective core.  Over time, you recognize that there is a certain futility to ongoing challenge or confrontation.  In marriages, this can be extraordinarily difficult.  The lack of empathy and level of reactivity, when not honestly acknowledged, can be soul-crushing to a spouse.  But responding reactively doesn’t help.  Powering back at the person doesn’t help.  It only further ignites the inner protector, a part of the person charged with protecting her more vulnerable parts.  However, merely accepting narcissistic behavior that is abusive is not-at-all noble.  Whether in a marriage, a business setting, a church, or some other community, foolish behavior can destroy community.  It is not appropriate to ignore it, or deem it part of what it means to be “messy” as a church or in a marriage.  God is concerned for the victim ( (Exod 22:22-24; Deut. 10:18; Ps. 10:14; Ps. 68:5; Ps. 146:9; Isa. 1:17; Jer. 22:3).  And power, used manipulatively or in a self-serving way, is universally condemned.  The story of King David is a fantastic example of this, particularly in his exploitation of Bathsheba.  A fool needs to be confronted, but this process can be very messy itself, and often is not done well.  (I’m aware of screwing up many, many situations where a narcissistic fool needed to be dealt with).

An evil person is almost always impossible to deal with.  Now, the word evil may irk some.  If you are reading this and don’t profess faith in a God of kind or believe in the supernatural, then understand evil as sinister – Hitler-like.  Because the evil person is clearly twisted in her ways.  While the fool is blind, ignorant, lacking self-awareness and often too broken and habitually manipulative to see her ways, the evil person is completely cut off from any capacity for care or empathy.  Often, these people are deemed “anti-social” in psychological parlance.  In their presence, you feel a sinister, cold, and calloused vibe.  The person in relationship with an evil narcissistic must protect herself, and the church faced with this kind of person will often struggle to be compassionate but ultimately need to part ways because of the scorched-earth destruction left behind.

With all of this said, the fool is the most difficult person to deal with.  A normal narcissist is a repentant narcissist, continuing to struggle but self-aware.  An evil person is sinister, and all of us can agree that these people are very scary.  The Tuscon shootings are just another reminder.  However, fools frustrate us.  They demand our time and energy.  They can appear repentant at times, and then engage their old patterns in the next breath.  We find ourselves drawn in by their seeming self-awareness at one moment, and then repulsed by their selfishness in the next moment.  In Christian communities, we’re particularly aware that compassion and forgiveness is required, but we’re often at a loss as to how to do it.

I’ve written some on dealing with abuse before.  Clearly, to answer this for every context – marriage, business, church, etc. – would be impossible.  However, it’s important to remember a few things:

1.  Be clear – You’ve got to be clear with what you are experiencing.  The foolish narcissist will make you feel crazy.  Reality and truth is twisted.  Words become tools to hurt and confuse.  You’ve got to find a way to stay centered and clear about the truth.

2.  Be wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove – Remain tenderhearted.  Pray for the person.  Have compassion on the broken inner person within the fool, the “little boy” or “little girl” who may have been hurt or wounded early in life, and who has reacted with power and manipulation.  However, be wise.  Compassion does not require you to lay down your self.  Wisdom demands a kind of artful engagement…and artful disengagement where required.

3.  Get community around you – To stay clear and make wise decisions, you need others around you.  There are two people you don’t need, however.  You don’t need the person who says, “Jesus requires us to love everyone and lay yourself down not matter what comes at you.”  That’s a twisting of the Gospel message.  You also don’t need the person who blames everything on the other, and refuses to engage you with your own participation in the process of sin.  No, you need honest friends who can call you on your own stuff, but also help you see the clear foolishness of the other.

In the end, love demands that we take brokenness and sin seriously at every level.  Responses that either minimize brokenness and sin, or react with pure self-righteous vengeance miss the Gospel.  In-between, we find the difficult and wisdom-demanding work of loving broken people.

A book recommendation – Rid of my Disgrace – newly released and written by a good friend.  Though written about sexual assault, it is a great primer on the Bible and victimization by a thoughtful theologian who engages the mess everyday on the front lines.

dealing with difficult people :: narcissists

The vote is in.

And what I’ve heard is that many of you (with many pastors responding!) want to hear some thoughts on dealing with the more difficult people you come into contact with.  Maybe you are a friend.  Maybe you are a spouse.  Maybe you are a pastor.  Maybe you are a small group leader.  Maybe you are a manager.  Regardless, you’ve met people who simply exhaust you, requiring more energy than you can muster up.  Part of you wants to be compassionate.  But another part wants to snap, raging at a person who seems to suck the life out of you and out of your organization.

Let’s begin with the narcissist, and follow in the coming weeks with borderlines, histrionics, obsessive-compulsives, anti-socials, and many others.  Though I despise labels, at some level, they are in common use, and provide us with some capacity for conversation despite their limitations.

First, let’s acknowledge that all of these exist on a continuum.  We’re all narcissists to some degree.

Second, here’s how I spot a narcissistic (and I’ll use the male pronoun for convenience, though I’ve counseled many female narcissists).  A narcissist, derived from the Greek ναρκη (numb), is one who has been robbed of a God-given desire to live for and love others and is entranced by his own image.  A narcissistic is a self-worshipper.  He can look like the image-driven salesman, or the arrogant entrepreneur, or the success-addicted pastor, or the self-interested politician.  We’ve seen this in John Edwards and Gavin Newsom, in Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh.  They are men and women who feign empathy, appearing to be for others, but who ultimately live for their own good.  They enter a room noticing the most powerful person in the room, only to see life as a competition that must be won.

But then we meet the narcissistic in the church.  He’s an influential person, often.  He plays the game of relationships well, appearing charming and interested.  He approaches you at the community group, and asks questions about you. But soon the gravitational force pulls towards him.  He monopolizes time, appearing sincere at first but increasingly self-serving as time goes on.  He’s optimistic, unless he’s relating to people who knows well (his wife, or an employee, or a child).  In these cases, he becomes condescending.  In your group, he is interested and up until the tide turns in a direction he disagrees with.  And then you see an anger you didn’t expect.

Most people think they’ve screwed up when confronted by a narcissist.

In his marriage, he appears put together, loving, and quite happy.  But you begin to notice a distance.  His spouse seems to fall into place as if it were a duty, not a delight. Behind the scenes, she feels less-than-human.  But few know it.

In his ministry, you find his personality compelling, until you experience his wrath.

In is friendships, you find him boasting of his accomplishments, but rarely interested in your life or struggles.

He is disconnected from his own pain, insecurity, and fear.

And ultimately, this is what narcissism reveals.  Manifesting in power, a lack of empathy, a sense of superiority, a cynicism about failure, a penchant to succeed, the narcissist cannot fail, in his work, in his relationships, in his friendships.  And yet, underneath his powerful and impressive exterior, he is deeply insecure.  He doesn’t know this.  We can only pray he realizes it in time.  But nevertheless, it’s there.  He cannot fail.  He cannot become what he despises…powerless, ashamed.

I’ve worked with narcissists for 14 years.  I find that some will never, ever give up power for the sake of relationship, vulnerable relationship where real honesty and humility can exist.  But I’ve found often that men and women who struggle in these ways long to shed the narcissistic posture for a taste of authentic connection.  More often than not, I’ve just got to be honest with a narcissist.  And what this entails is sharing what I see and feel.  I’ll often say, “I find myself wanting to admire you, but I feel disconnected from you.  I feel like you’ve set us up to be competitive but I don’t want to be.  To be honest, I just want you to find one safe place where you don’t have to be on.  Maybe we can have that.”

My sense is that narcissists are not aberrations, zits on the face of a beautiful person.  They have stories, like you and me.  Many have been hurt in their early years, and have coped by becoming tough, powerful, and crafty.  But I’ve found that the toughest customers are as insecure and afraid as I am.  We’re all human, after all.  We give the appearance of strength and invincibility, but most of us are phony’s.  This is all-the-more reason for a Messiah who became weak so that we might know real strength.

But narcissists, to be sure, will annoy you, frustrate you, and sometimes sabotage your group, your church, or organization.  The question is:  Will you give them an opportunity to see their sin, and own it?  Now, saying that, most narcissists will resist.  But I’ve known many a “repentant narcissist,” as Dan Allender calls them, who have not only seen their own stuff but have turned into extraordinary and humble contributers to a larger vision.

Don’t give up on the narcissist.

His lack of empathy and penchant for power is hiding a deep, deep insecurity underneath.  Very few people take the time to be curious, to ask about his story, to move into his life.  Many will resist.  But, in those times when a narcissist owns his stuff, repents, and begins to change, you find some of the most significant, giving, influential, and humble people in your church.

After all, God is in the business of redemption.