Whether you run in evangelical circles or not, chances are you’ve encountered someone who has started a sentence with, “God told me to…” and finished it with something inspirational, aspirational, or irrational. Depending on the denomination, it might get thrown around as a common catch phrase, or it might be reserved for more serious, “big” declarations. Either way, narcissists in the church love to exploit it. Here’s why.
When a narcissist says, “God told me to…” it is almost always in order to over-inflate their own status or position while simultaneously absolving themselves of any personal accountability. What better excuse is there? If a narcissist claims God told them to quit their job, who can argue with that? Certainly not their wife, or their children, or anyone who might be counting on them to pay the bills.
Perhaps a narcissist decides to move their family to another country because God told them how they would be “lifted up” as holy ministers in this new place. Never mind that the people in the current location are on to the narcissist’s web of lies. It’s also not about God or others being lifted up, mind you. It’s always about how the narcissist will look or benefit from the move. Whatever the new scheme is, it will inevitably fail. When it does, that’s okay, because he was just doing what God told him to do. A narcissist never fails. When the situation gets dire, God will simply tell them some other thing designed to make them look like it was all pre-ordained to work out that way. The next thing will inevitably be something bigger and better because God is always about lifting up the status of a narcissist. Isn’t that convenient?
A narcissist also plays the God card in order to diminish the worth of others. If God told a narcissist they would write the next great American novel, then surely anyone who critiques their work, sends them a rejection letter, or tells them to maybe hire a proofreader is not only a hack in the publishing world, but they are conspiring along with Satan. The reason why “God told me to…” works so well for a narcissist is that it’s challenge-proof. If you disagree, it’s easy for a narcissist to claim that you aren’t spiritual enough. A narcissist has already put himself squarely in the place of God in his own mind, so it’s easy for him to project that if you disagree with him, you disagree with God himself.
An abuser will also use God as his own scapegoat for the overt or covert abuse and neglect he exacts upon others. “God told me He’s angry with you. “God told me to punish you.” “God told me you’re a sinner.” You get the idea. A narcissist believes he is doing God a favor by being his personal jury, judge and executioner of all mankind. It’s all extremely warped.
I am a Christian and I have had many spiritual moments which, if I were to put words to them, might be interpreted as a nudge or a whisper of God telling me to do something. There is nothing inherently wrong with the belief that God “speaks” to us in all sorts of different ways. But when someone claims what “God” says is something leads to the oppression of others, God is not the one actually doing the talking. God is love. What narcissists do in the name of God is far from loving.