The research background for concerns about Mark Driscoll’s leadership

Pastor Mark Driscoll’s past and present leadership, questioned and critiqued in numerous blog posts by Warren Throckmorton and Wenatchee The Hatchet, reflect a substantial body of research about unhealthy leaders and leadership styles.

For one example, Dr. Len Oakes writes about the research of Dr. Heinz Kohut:

What was it among his narcissistic patients that made Kohut think of charismatic leaders? He initially noticed that when they presented for therapy, they showed grandiose self-confidence and — unlike most patients — an extraordinary lack of self-doubt. Often they would be quite clear-headed and perceptive; Kohut recounts how one such patient accurately diagnosed his (Kohut’s) shortcomings while in therapy. In addition, they could be very persuasive and accusative. These obvious strengths made them quite distinctive as a group; they did not present in the demoralized, anxious manner of most patients.

Throughout the Throckmorton and Wenatchee The Hatchet blogs, you can find evidence and first-person accounts of things at Seattle’s Mars Hill Church that, in the corporate and public sectors, would have resulted in Driscoll’s firing.

I consider those examples of “grandiose self-confidence” and “extraordinary lack of self-doubt.”

The Oakes excerpt comes from his book Prophetic Charisma: The Psychology of Revolutionary Religious Personalities, Syracuse University Press, 1997.


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