Narcissism Among Pastors

The revelations about Jacob Prasch and Joshua Chavez are a reminder of other wolves in the pulpit such as Ravi Zacharias, Benny Hinn, Todd Bentley, Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland and a host of others. And, as you dig deeper into this problem, you realize that this isn’t just about flawed preachers, but a system that attracts narcissists to positions of leadership.

Like the military version, our Seminary Industrial Complex has created a system of corruption in our churches that is now impossible to fix. We’ve created a monster, and it is now destroying us.


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Narcissism Among Pastors

Ask yourself something:

Why do kids go to seminary?

What happens to them when they get there?

Why do we need seminaries in the first place?

The pattern of worship that the Bible has given us bears little resemblance to the hierarchy that we have created to manage how we serve God. Worse, it has created a priest class whose only real motivation is the adoration of crowds.

Now, I understand why we want our kids to be given thorough training in the fundamentals of our faith. I understand why learning Greek and Hebrew is so valuable. I get it that you don’t want your sons and daughters to attend a university that will destroy their faith.

I understand all that, but look at the results that our seminaries have produced. Most pastors that I’ve met are raging narcissists. I can literally count the exceptions on both hands without need my toes. And, for some reason, we want it this way.


Instead of humble, caring shepherds who devote their lives to the care of precious sheep, we have impressive speakers who put on a good show for us every Sunday – or he’s fired. And, I don’t see the Bible saying anywhere that a great speaker is important. Yet, that is the system that we’ve created. Somehow, it’s what we want.

Unfortunately, most dynamic preachers seem to be full of heresy, sexual abuse, financial mismanagement, arrogance and spiritual repression. And, it comes in all shapes and sizes. Rock stars like Joel Osteen will tell you everything that you want to hear and leave you dead inside. The story tellers like Ravi Zacharias will peddle fascinating tales and rape the women in your church. Kenneth Copeland will infect you with a prosperity gospel and use your tithes to buy his mansions, luxury cars and personal jets.

The violence and depravity in the pulpit is truly astonishing. And, I struggle to understand why we let them get away with it. I’m even surprised at how long it takes even me to jump up and do something about pastors who devour churches I belong to. But, let’s take a step back and take a closer look at what I’m talking about.

A Narcissist Is A Wolf

Deborah Menelaws, one of the victims of Jacob Prasch, dropped a comment in a recent post about Jacob, reminding me of a video that I had probably skipped over. It was this one:

Narcissism in Ministry

(WARNING: You’ll have a southwest London accent stuck in your head,
when you are done watching this.)

Pastor Duncan Forbes does an excellent job of explaining what a narcissist is, the damage that they do and how they do it. He talks about their strategies and how you can be sucked into their schemes, becoming an unconscious supporter of their vile deeds. Oh, and one other thing.

Every time you hear him say ‘narcissist’, think wolf. Wolves are always narcissists, but sometimes you can’t tell because they often wear the persona of humility and use other people to do their dirty work. And then, as I was digging further into this subject, I ran across this:

90% of pastors are narcissistic and abusive

That struck a nerve. Aaron Walker had been to a lot of churches, and his experience was a lot like mine. He was discovering wolves occupying the pulpit and tearing Christians apart. And, I can verify that if you stand up to one, your name will be blackened across the city. As I have mentioned before, my wife and I are famous among the pastors in Taipei, and the young pastor who sought to destroy us and our church probably doesn’t think that he did anything wrong. (Actually, I know that he doesn’t.)

Dr Diane Langberg

Then, I saw this video – an interview with a woman who spent 50 years trying to help the victims of the wolves tearing our churches apart:

Church Abuse: Protecting Ministries, Destroying Souls || Dr Diane Langberg, Author (Redeeming Power)

Hearing her relate the abuse these women and children suffered – and knowing that this is just the tip of the iceberg – is terrible to think about. Yet, I have come into contact with so many similar stories, that I know that we have barely begun to uncover what is going on within the leadership of our churches.

The first video and the one above comes from this YouTube playlist created by Pastor Duncan Forbes:

Trauma & Abuse

I haven’t been through all 18 videos, but the ones that I’ve seen are excellent. If I were living in London, I would probably attend his church.

All of that, and more is why we need to do more to stop this evil scourge in our midst. We must be more ready to question misbehavior and call out bad conduct. As Dr. Langberg says, these things often start small, where small sins coalesce into bigger and bigger ones until your church is full of terrorized souls and broken lives.

It needs to stop.

Jacob Prasch and Joshua Chavez

That’s why calling our Jacob Prasch and Joshua Chavez are important steps in that direction. These wolves should not be allowed to continue destroying lives. My most recent post on those two is here:

Joshua Chavez and More Prasch

How ironic that neither of them think that they are doing anything wrong, or have done anything wrong. And before you tell me that they aren’t as bad as Ravi Zacharias or Joel Osteen… are you sure? What I’ve seen so far is pretty bad, and that might just be another ‘tip of the iceberg’.

Persecution And Judgment

I honestly don’t know how we are going to get rid of these wolves and the system that promotes them. We are so far removed from what Jesus and the Apostles built, that it’s hard to see a way back. The only answer that I can think of is the one that the Bible guarantees is coming:


We Christians seem unable to clean up our lives unless Satan’s minions are killing us. So, that’s coming. And, since The Body of Christ in Europe and North America has sinned against God so badly for so long, judgment is coming too.

I am horrified by what we have done, and what we have allowed. And, I am equally horrified by what I see coming.

Let us all repent, while we still can.


I truly hope that you’ll be ready for this

A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.Proverbs 22:3


If you find a flaw in my reasoning, have a question, or wish to add your own viewpoint, leave a comment on the website. Your input is truly welcome.


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29 thoughts on “Narcissism Among Pastors”

  1. I’ve only ever seen 3 humble “Preachers” in my 55 years. 1 in Georgia, and 2 in Texas; who weeped as they spoke of our Father and Savior Jesus ❤️

  2. Your insights are always so refreshing John.

    The depth of the Fathers grace never ceases to amaze me. How He has kept this world going; instead of just sitting down with His head in His hands and groaning as He watches His church self destruct here on Earth while waving His hand at Jesus and saying “Enough Son, go down there and bang their heads together and stop this nonsense before they really mess things up”… well we’re still here is all I can say. Such patience with His children!

    So why do we allow these people to shepherd us? Why do we allow such obviously corrupt people to lord it over us and follow them where they lead, even when it is clearly unbiblical?

    Forgive me for reflecting on my own history, for I think it gives some insight. This is going to be a little long winded, but there is a point to it.

    I was born in the UK; a somewhat shy child, the eldest of 2. When I was 9 my parents moved to New Zealand, and boy was it a shock to the ol system. The culture shock was overwhelming and as a result of being teased and bullied for my accent, lack of understanding of the syntax of the language the children were using and I was too intelligent for my own good. I reacted by become very insular and shutting myself off from society, I made very few ‘friends’ and slowly over the years began to hate the world around me. By my teen years I had no friends, no interest in girls and hated school. I grew more insular as I was teased for not having a girlfriend and rumours were spread that meant I must be gay.

    By the time I left school I had no idea what to do with my life, I just wanted to stay home and play video games. My dream of becoming a doctor was shattered because I had failed to achieve sufficient grades. So I decided, eventually, to become a nurse instead! Yes, that was the answe….. I was rejected – because I was a European male (and this was 1990!) I was broken once more, I had had enough with N.Z. Rejected and growing more hateful, I decided I would go back to the U.K. where I would be accepted and loved by those around me…. You can imagine what’s going to happen…

    It did, I spent 8 months trying to find a training school to be an Anaesthetic Assistant in the UK. But because I was so hurt and insular I made no effort to make friends or even join society in general, I was too afraid of being hurt and rejected…. and then the rejections came through from the training schools… I returned to N.Z. to my family, broken and angry. My fortunes turned around somewhat, I got a training position as an Anaesthetic Assistant in N.Z., I was making a nice income, I was able to move out of my parents home and start flatting independently.

    I was utterly miserable, lonely and growing ever more angry and hateful, both at the world and at myself for feeling this way. No-one loved me, no-one cared. Then suddenly I had a near death experience – and though I didn’t know it at the time God called me to Him…. Rather than embrace Him, I ran… for 2 years I ran (thinking I was running away, actually running to Him). 2 years later I hit a wall and crashed and almost lost everything, including my life.

    I was finally, and utterly broken….. and just where God wanted me.
    This time when He extended His hand, I didn’t just take it… I ran into His arms and sobbed.
    I had been reading the Bible for the first time, finished Genesis and as I went onto the next book I was advised by the friend who gave it too me to read John. But the Holy Spirit compelled me to read Matthew instead, and when I read Mathew 7:1 “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” That was the door He needed, he ripped open my heart and showed me what was in it, the hate, the anger, the festering sore I had created.

    So what was the point of all that, and people reading it going “Well this guy must be a narcissist cos’ he can’t shut up about himself”.

    What God showed me was the reason why I had cut myself off and driven down that dark angry road. I had blamed everyone else around me, family and society, for hating me… and all the while I was the one hating them. It was years later that God revealed more, I had blamed everyone else… because I didn’t want to accept the responsibility for my own actions – if everyone else was responsible, it became their fault and therefore I was guilt free. Yeah, that really worked well…..

    I have seen much of the same self deception in Church leaders and the body of Christ as a whole, ‘I’m the Pastor/Elder, but it’s always someone else’s fault….’ God’s not blessing us because…. The congregation is clearly in sin… the congregation isn’t giving enough…. the congregation isn’t willing to serve…. the elders aren’t pulling their weight…. the Pastor isn’t doing what we want…. it’s not our responsibility, the government should….

    But there is always something missing in our excuses : It’s my fault because I….
    In the end, when I stand before His throne. The Father won’t be interested in what ‘they’ should have done, He will be asking me what I did. By His grace may I be found worthy, Lord knows except by His blood I don’t deserve His mercy.

    • Hi Peter Makin,

      I’m so sorry that you had to walk that road. That is hard. But, someone needed to, to be able to share what you’ve just written.

      The difference between you and the narcissist is that you didn’t turn towards manipulation and dishonesty to protect yourself. You also turned to God and humbled yourself, accepting the terrible knowledge that you are a sinner incapable of saving or even defending yourself.

      For a brief moment in time, the narcissist can have a ‘come to Christ’ moment. But, if they haven’t truly given up their ‘right of self defense’, they will fall back into their old sins and often become twice the devil that they were.

      Just to be clear, narcissists CAN be saved. They just won’t be narcissists anymore.

      I’m so sorry that you had to go through all that, so that you could have that kind of testimony. Yet, such accounts of a changed life are vital and powerful. And, I’m glad that you shared that with us.

      God bless you, Peter. There is a good purpose for all things.

      Yours in Christ,

      John Little

      • I appreciate the sorrow brother, but I rejoice in my trials. The Lord has a plan for us all, and His worked out in my salvation. Do I understand the how, why and what for’s? By no means. Saul went on a murder spree before His salvation. The Apostle Peter denied Christ 3 times. By comparison I rather think I got off easy….

    • Peter your testimony is very thought provoking. I am so glad the Father showed you His love and how to love. I think of how so many people carry your kind of burdens their entire life…so unnecessary when LOVE is standing right next to them to relieve them of all of their burdens. Thank you for sharing and I’m sending my love to you, my brother. May you feel His blessings today.

      • Thank you sister. I totally agree Love is standing right next to us all, but I would point out one thing. While our burdens are unnecessary, they arose from our walking in darkness and sin. We were blind to His love because we lacked the Light in our lives by which to see and recognise Him. When our eyes were opened by the Holy Spirit to the truth of our Lord Jesus, the Light of the World, only then could we see the Love that not only stands beside us, but was carrying us the whole time and our burdens were lifted. In this age of distractions it seems many in the Church forget time and again that obedience to our Lord is to be living testimonies of His Light that the eyes of those who remain unsaved may be opened to the Truth of Jesus. If through the testimony of those burdens and, ultimately my salvation, one persons blind eyes can be opened to His Light then I would endure all those burdens and more once again.

        The Lord Jesus bless you in all you do sister.

  3. Thanks for helping me understand why I can’t find a church.
    Even in small town Texas every church is overrun with this nonsense.
    Satan took over the education system, the government, and the churches. Judgement will begin with the supposed body of Christ
    And rightly so.
    You can’t just walk into Joel Osteens church and sit where you want.
    If you want to sit in the first few rows, you gotta pay.
    Big time.
    These are perilous times.
    I do disagree with your timeline brother John in one way ie gog and Magog.
    It won’t take decades for the Jewish virgins to mature.
    When God is ready, they will be ready, just like Paul.
    In fact, the newly converted have enthusiasm unlike any other, without the years to be corrupted.
    The end is near.
    No more than 15 years left imo
    Your brother

    • Finding a good church is so hard. Mrs. Little and I have to travel two and a half hours to get to ours – even though there are local ones as close as a 12 minute walk. And, I hope that you are right about that timeline. I certainly don’t want any of this to last any longer than it needs to. Keep up the good work, Bondo! – JL

  4. Yes, Paul warned the church at Ephesus in Acts that when he left ravenous wolves would rise up from within the church & devour many & yet as I listened to these videos I realised that never have we been taught what this actually means & that I for one never in my wildest dreams envisaged what is happening today was what Paul was warning about. I have been part of a Pentecostal church that was run by a narcissist but I couldn’t have given you that name until the past 5 years ago because I had never heard of the term & never equated it to happening inside the church. I truly liked the first video as I then was forced to look at myself after he pointed out that we all have these tendencies in us & it was with shock that I realised that without Christ I probably would have been a narcissist & that yes, every human being if honest would admit to the same problem, it is what pride brings in our sinful life. Look at Satan, he would have to be one of the worst around & we are all controlled by him until we truly accept Christ & start being sanctified by the Holy Spirit. I also realise that it wasn’t until I arrived into my latter years that I started like the apostle Paul to realise just how sinful I truly am, where every little sin bothers you & you see yourself honestly before the throne of God as utterly depraved in every cell of your body. I also really enjoyed listening to Dr Langberg as she was so informative from her years of counselling. What a good doctor she would be to have when going through severe trauma. Truly we live in an evil world & it has infiltrated the church seeing we are all sick people seeking the Lord & not man for our healing. It is only going to get worse as we draw nearer to the return of our Lord, so we very much need to get into the Word of God daily, prayerfully & take in what we are reading & use it to heal our souls as well as bring healing to others. Blessings in Jesus

    • You get it. And, that is so very important. But for the grace of God, we could have traveled that same road (and maybe did for a time). And, knowing that helps us forgive those who did. It even helps us to have compassion for those who have sinned so badly from the pulpit, even while we ask them to repent and step down from their ministry. Well done, Louise. – JL

  5. Hello again, John. Thanks for being willing to address the truth of these situations in recent weeks. I have been working my way through the links you posted, and I am experiencing the uncanny feeling again and again that these people are describing the exact situations that I have lived through. Like you say, this problem of wolves in the ministry seems to be universal, and I find myself stuck between dealing with my own trauma from these types of leaders, and “forgetting those things which are behind” and seeing Christ in others, as we are also supposed to do.

    The way forward must lie in truth. We are nothing without truth, but telling the truth IS an exercise of judgement and it IS divisive. It is even seditious and contentious, because it is a challenge to authority, and it is disruptive and unwelcome.

    Just a couple of weeks ago, somebody told me that these things shouldn’t be a problem. All I had to do, he said, was confront the brother who had caused offense, and if he would not hear, then go with a couple other people, then to the church, in the well-known biblical pattern. This rosy solution doesn’t seem to work so well in real-life, though. I tried to do this a couple of years ago to confront corruption and abuse in the ministry. The personal talk was a disaster, predictably, since the minister pointed out that God had told him to do everything he had done or said, and that was that. When I attempted to go to him with witnesses, he simply refused, then went about spreading slander about me to all the key members of the church behind my back. It worked so well that I was pushed to the margins, pushed from ministry, and ostracized socially. Any “taking it to the church” would have been pre-condemned as my selfish attack on a man of God.

    This is an over-simplification of a long, sorry saga that stretches over years, but I am growing more and more aware that my story is more the rule than the exception. Of course, most people never experience this, but most people don’t serve in the ministry and even get to the position where they see the corruption, and even fewer then try to do anything about it. Like you, I now expect ministries to be corrupt, and when something looks good, I find myself consumed by skepticism and looking for the “angle”.

    During our time in Africa, I came to understand that this problem had eaten so far into the churches there that they had changed in a fundamental way. The pastors were so corrupt and the message so polluted by NAR nonsense and prosperity animism that the churches often failed to resemble Christianity in a meaningful way – and I am saying this as someone born and raised in extreme charismatic circles!

    In fact, I found it more helpful, and accurate, to think of our surroundings as a mostly pagan environment needing to be evangelized. Sure, there were exceptions, but they were rare and without resources. It’s obvious, if you think about it. Our region in Kenya had some of the world’s highest rates of professed Christianity – something like 95 percent. Just imagine what would happen to the society if 95 percent of people actually lived like Christians! In fact, though, the society was plagued with all the familiar problems, deep corruption, habitual dishonesty, indifference to suffering, sexual abuse, violence, etc…, and that is just within the church!

    Yes, they need real Christianity, but who is there to evangelize them? I honestly don’t know where to turn. It seems that it would take some sort of miraculous work to even find people to interact with as the body of Christ. It can be awfully depressing, but a little part of me keeps reminding me that it’s not bad to be in this vulnerable place. It’s not a bad thing to have to depend on God, even for finding spiritual life and fellowship. It could be that he will be found entirely outside all these systems, and that we can’t follow him unless we follow him “outside the camp, bearing his reproach.”

    Sorry for the long, rambling comment, but these are evocative subjects. I have been following your posts closely every week. I know you have your own particular struggles with your health and the uncertainty of the situation with the PRC. I pray that God keeps you through it all.

    • Excellent points. Especially about how the average Christian doesn’t ‘get it’. The cost that you had to pay was huge, and I truly wish that the price wasn’t so high. May God continue to bless you both, and I am grateful for your prayers. (May God turn the CCP from its evil ways!) – JL

  6. hello brother
    i consider to buy a Apple Mac Pro
    it will take all my money for now but is it good to record a video i think so my micri is plug and software i use can be download for mac OBS

    the type is Pro MD101LL /A its only 4 ram but i quitted a software program for webcam which used lot of power and needed 8 ram but these are expensive laptops
    what do you think ? oh yes price is 486 euro from Amazon refurbished

    thanks for quick response hopefully then i can shout on the web too !

    • It has been decades since I used a Mac, but I think that I understand why people need them. However, 486 Euro is a good price as long as it is in good condition. So, I can’t see anything wrong with what you want to do, Nadine. – JL

  7. According to a very good Bible teacher that I used to listen to a while back, who is now deceased, the church age ended probably back in 1988 due to Satan taking his seat in the churches, as mentioned in Daniel. The church that now exists is apostate. The Holy Spirit is no longer there.

    • There are still churches out there that have the Holy Spirit. Even bad churches can have good Christians in them. But, I understand the point and certainly agree that apostate churches are definitely on the increase. Thank you, Gina. May the Lord have mercy on all of us, as we go through this time. – JL

  8. Who we are as Christians all begins with the foundation. And for most this means the false doctrine of original sin and sin nature that denies the doctrine of Christ. And promotes the salvation by works “gospel” that is taught in seminaries and was first learned from their mother the Roman Catholic religion.

    Until people who say they want to know Christ reject this false doctrine the narcissism that you spoke of in this article will be the least of their problems.

    • Hi Ed,

      Okay, I’m not sure what you mean. Romans 5 tells us that sin entered the world through Adam. And, anyone who has ever raised kids, knows that foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.

      Also, your emphasis on works salvation. I understand why you would be concerned about that. Those who are hyper-Arminian are forced to believe in a ‘works only’ salvation. But, I don’t find too many of those. But, if you are denying the need for obedience to God, that’s a problem. Hyper-Calvinism is just as bad as hyper-Arminianism. They both distort the meaning and purpose of God.

      Oh, and there are narcissists (wolves) on both sides of this equation. I can attest to that, personally.

      It’s good to hear from you, Ed. Feel free to clarify what you are saying.

      Yours in Christ,

      John Little

  9. Given the above, it might be a good idea if we can recommend churches that we personally know where the pastor is humble and looks to the Lord, taking none of His glory for himself. I know of a number of such churches here in the UK where the pulpit is not occupied by a narcissist, including churches meeting in homes.
    I am happy to give the names of these churches to any looking for such; some of the comments I’ve read here bring tears to my eyes.
    There are good churches in the US as well, some being pastored by brothers such as Anton Bosch in LA and Bill Randles in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, both of whom are good friends of mine.
    Don’t give up, folks; let Him direct you to the church of His choosing for you.

  10. another problem in church is witchcraft which causes the members to be deluded and brainwashed so they become blind to the errors made by the leaders of the chirch
    Derek prince told pride is biggest problem and witchcraft in the church which is using a spirit other than the Holy Spirit to making other people do what they want them to do
    its manipulation but in a stronger sense and causes spiritual misleaded people and they are not aware of it
    they come eventually under a spell
    but i cant explain it in english
    Derek prince has many good videos about it on youtube and it explains a lot
    the only problem i have with buying a computer is that they finally will block acces to internet for unvaccinated people but i try not to look at that God is still on the throne and in control i have to look for His leading
    when on internet i will try to be positive and not what i did in the past which was always negative and complaining about experiences with people and negative experiences in the church i want to build up not in fact really exposing but simple bible lessons we need not only exposure but giving the body of Christ
    not like a news journalist but
    lesons from the bible especially relevant in these times and also want to give awareness of what time we are in to try to wake up christians
    please pray for this financial adventure that it will be a good laptop i will order in Belgium because U K is the deliver country for Amazon and the laptops have englisch electric devises which do not work here
    i hoped for more technical advise from you but you said you didnt work on a mac for long time
    i hope the Ram 4 GB will be enough ?

    blessings from sister Nadine

  11. Hi John,
    I love you information – praise God for men like you! Why? Because you hold to God’s Truth!!!!!
    This is a short summary ( I would like to be more specific and detailed but I am currently preoccupied with different projects, yet do not want to delay getting this info out to you):
    There is a pastor in Tillamook Oregon named Jeff Crippen who has been preaching on this subject for years – abuse in the church – I have been listening to him on Sermon audio for over a year – he has 2 sermon series that I know of – “Wise as Serpents”, 26 sermons, and “Domestic Violence and Abuse”, 21 sermons, that I have “studied” – I listened to each one at least 3 times as the focus is to identify sin in the church and keep wolves out! He has been preaching this as a focus for years and I think if you check it out you will really like his teachings – he has been helping victims of abuse for years – he has a couple websites. My purpose here is to share this not advertise him!
    I decided within the last several years to stop reading Christian books, listening to all sorts of pastors, false prophets (and there are many), etc., so my focus is just reading scripture and then listening to several online sources – Omegashock, Jeff Crippen, David Wood, and a few others who speak truth in a direct yet humble manner.
    I have been meaning to share this with you for a while as you both are making the same observations yet with a different focus/angle/emphasis.
    If you listen to him you may be shocked (well probably not!) at what he has uncovered as many many abuse victims find their way to his ministry and share their stories.
    Sorry as this is not as comprehensive as I would prefer but as mentioned want to share ASAP.
    Joe in AZ

  12. Wow. What a fantastic post, and I can’t believe I never connected these particular dots before. I have encountered many narcissists and been victimized by a couple, and there are all KINDS of videos on YouTube by various counselors and therapists on this topic because in their practices, they see the victims of narcissists all the time but never the narcissist because they think they can do no wrong!!!!

    But it’s perfect. I can see exactly why being a pastor would attract far too many of those who want to be worshiped and admired rather than serve. And it explains the outrageous and incorrigible behavior of the worst poster children in the prosperity and word-faith movements. There is one Christian therapist, I forget who, who believes narcissism is tied to a particular demonic force because the symptoms are exactly the same in every narcissist. She has some videos out on that – but I just checked, and could not find it because by now there are zillions of videos linking narcissism with demonic activity.

    Thank you so much for ferreting out this information!!!! It explains so much!!!!!

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