Below is a video montage of the mutual love and admiration expressed between Craig Groeschel (pastor of LifeChurch)and Steven Furtick recently, when Groeschel flew out to North Carolina to speak at Furtick's Elevation Church. The praise they heep on each other borders on creepy. Furtick explains that Groeschel once flew to a conference on a whim recently, just to introduce Furtick and then to jump on the plane that day and fly back home, and Furtick gushes about how flattering that was for him. It is unnatural for two men to express this much love and adoration for each other in public. I'm glad they are best buds, but please, spare us the details guys. And guys - don't advertise in these difficult economic times how you are wasting air fare to simply introduce each other at a conference!
Groeschel actually tells the people of Elevation Church:
"I feel it is one of the most important callings on my life simply to support your pastor, to stand behind him....it's an honor and a calling to protect him, guard him, support him."All an attempt to let the people of Elevation Church know how "special" their pastor is. Craig Groeschel is the pastor of perhaps the largest church in America and he uses his celebrity to endorse Steven Furtick. You'll see in the video below clips from when Furtick was a guest at Groeschel's church, where the lovefest started, and Groeschel gives a nice plug for Furtick's book.
But really, we know what this is sort of behavior is all about. We can call it the "cult of personality", or "narcissistic leadership". Ed Stetzer has spoken about the trend of "cult of personality" among big name preachers. The "cult of personality" phenomena is defined as:
"A cult of personality arises when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, or other methods, to create an idealized and heroic public image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise. Cults of personality are usually associated with dictatorships." WikipediaIndeed, megachurch pastors want to be seen as heroes. Many crave the praise and unquestioned followship of their subordinates and don't tolerate opposition.
Narcissistic leadership is defined as:
"...narcissistic leadership is driven by unyielding arrogance, self-absorption, and a personal egotistic need for power and admiration." WikipediaIn the past several years I have spoken to people who have experience with narcissistic mega church pastors who demand absolute loyalty, have very sensitive egos that need to be stroked constantly. They speak at each others' churches and conferences, and pour enormous helpings of praise on each other. They preach sermons that are centered more on the pastor and how great he is, how much the Lord has anointed him, how "godly" he is, and how the people of the church should "support" and follow the pastor's leadership.
Author Jack Watts wrote earlier this year about this narcissistic behavior in today's "electric church":
"Like others who have a narcissistic personality disorder, the lords of the electric church are self-centered but, unlike their secular counterparts, the leaders of the electric church are never outwardly boastful. People may be forgiving of narcissism in movie stars, beauty queens and exceptional athletes, but certainly not of Christian leaders. This is where they differ from the classic model of narcissism. Because Christ was humble, these leaders are expected to behave similarly. Outwardly, they do, especially by the message they convey to their followers. Their demeanor is always that of a humble servant, eager to follow God's will. They have taken self-deprecating humility and made it an art form, cleverly masking their compulsive craving for attention, approbation and admiration."Yes, they have to maintain a demeanor of humility, but they pay their friends to fly in and do their praising for them.
So enjoy the montage of praise and love and adoration between Steven and Craig...and at the end you will hear Steven gush about how his rock star friend flew out to introduce him at a conference.