CNLP 212: Erwin McManus on How to Spot a Narcissist in Leadership, Overcoming The Need for Approval, and What He Experienced at the Global Leadership Summit 2018

In a wide-ranging conversation, Carey talks to author, futurist, film-maker, designer and pastor Erwin McManus about his childhood, how he got over his need for approval, why narcissism is so prevalent in leadership (including how to spot a narcissist), and what he experienced at this year’s Global Leadership Summit.

Welcome to Episode 212 of the podcastListen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.

Didn’t See It Coming is Available Now!

As you can tell from the interview with Erwin, self-awareness is so important. So how do you cultivate it?

If you want practical help overcoming a some of the biggest challenges leaders face (like self-awareness), my new book Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That Nobody Expects and Everyone Experiences tackles the seven core issues that take people out: cynicism, compromise, disconnectedness, irrelevance, pride, burnout, and the emptiness of success and provides strategies on how to combat each.

I wrote the book because no 18 year old sets out to be cynical, jaded and disconnected by age 35. Yet it happens all the time.

The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here’s what top leaders are saying about Didn’t See It Coming:

“Seriously, this may be the most important book you read this year.” Jud Wilhite, Lead Pastor, Central Church

“Powerful, personal, and highly readable. ” Brian Houston, Global Senior Pastor, Hillsong

“Whatever challenge you’re facing, whatever obstacle you’re hoping to overcome, whatever future you dream or imagine, there is something powerful for you here.” Andy Stanley, Founder, North Point Ministries

“Uncommonly perceptive and generous…You have to read this book.” Ann Voskamp, NYT bestselling author

“Masterful.” Reggie Joiner, CEO Orange

“Deep biblical insight, straightforward truth, and practical wisdom to help you grow.” Craig Groeschel, Pastor and NYT bestselling author

“This book is sure to help you.” Daniel H. Pink, NYT bestselling author

Over the years, one of the things I’ve enjoyed most about being a public speaker is having opportunities to hang out with Carey…It’s not a matter of if you’ll run into these challenges; it’s a matter of when. Be prepared by spending a little time with a leader who has already been there.” Jon Acuff, NYT best-selling author

“Nieuwhof’s book provides expert guidance…with an accuracy that pierces the heart.” Nancy Duarte, CEO Duarte Inc.

“A refreshingly transparent guide for all leaders in a wide variety of industries.” Bryan Miles, Co-Founder and CEO, BELAY

You can learn more and get your copy of Didn’t See It Coming here.


Erwin on Instagram | Twitter |

Links from this Episode

It’s Didn’t See It Coming launch week! Ever wonder how cynical you really are? Take my quick Cynicism Quiz and find out. Then check out chapter one about cynicism for free here.


An Unstoppable Force: Daring To Become The Church God Had In Mind by Erwin McManus

Let Us Prey: The Frequency of Narcissistic Personality Disorder in Pastors

3 Insights from this Episode

1. Spend more time preparing over planning

So many of us spend time making plans for our lives, but don’t reserve time to cultivate our character. College selections, career choices, cities to break ground in and start a family – there’s a way to plan out every aspect of life.

What we don’t tend to spend enough time doing is preparing our character for the journey. The plans you have will require making difficult choices along the way and those choices are made based on your character. Invest more time on your heart than on your plan.

2. Humility can be found in practical applications

Humility can be an elusive characteristic to pinpoint, but there are practical applications you can make in an effort to be more humble.

Do you have an inherent drive toward admiring humble people?

Do you have a willingness to decentralize power?

Do you empower others to make important decisions?

Do you have a desperate need to learn and be taught by others?

Humility isn’t the sense that you are nothing. It’s more of a self-awareness that there’s more going on in this life outside of just you. Maybe you can never know if you’re genuinely humble, but you can be intentional about doing humble things.

3. Narcissism has key traits and the church needs to be more aware about how to spot them

A Narcissist has:

A high need for praise because the world needs to be about him.

A view that there is no one in the world who can do something better than she can.

A Narcissist doesn’t:

Ask for help because he doesn’t believe anyone else could ever solve a problem that he can’t solve.

Take risks because if she fails it will completely violate her identity.

Accept responsibility for failure, because in his mind the failure was some else’s fault.

Quotes from This Episode

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Appreciate This? Rate the Podcast.

Hopefully, this episode has helped you lead like never before. That’s my goal. If you appreciated it, could you share the love?

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Thank you for being so awesome.

Next Episode: Levi & Jennie Lusko     

No one ever expects to lose a child, but that’s what happened in 2012 when Levi and Jennie Lusko’s 5 year old daughter, Lenya, died of an asthma attack. Levi and Jennie talk about what they experienced in the worst moment of their life, how they fought through it, and how they get through the tough days that still arise.

Subscribe for free now and you won’t miss Episode 213.

CNLP 212: Erwin McManus on How to Spot a Narcissist in Leadership, Overcoming The Need for Approval, and What He Experienced at the Global Leadership Summit 2018


  1. ORP on October 10, 2018 at 6:52 pm

    I hate this division and conflict. The Lord is at stake here folks.
    Yet its true– Mosaic has gained a reputation unfortunately for not being good stewards of people- spurned by a lack of value and honor for peoples endless commitments of time, talent, resources, relationships (Philippians 2)
    yet everyone deserves grace.

    Erwin & Mosaic Leaders – repent of your clear violation of 1 Timothy 3 from 4 years ago- and the pride that protects it. These decisions have sent countless people into apathy and anger who could easily join a love movement for Jesus – even at Mosaic. Instead they sit- too grateful for Mosaic for life change, too angry for the abuse and hirt— sitting as targets for the enemy to devour with bitterness, stagnant spirituality and even disbelief.

    I encourage everyone else– pray for Erwin – a man who despite the narcissistic tendencies – GENUINELY loves Jesus and people.

    Unfortunately for him, his conflict has caught up to him and is slowly overshadowing the amazing good he and Mosaic have done over the many years — and are doing. This “fleshly” crap we all deal with in ourselves can cloud everything. Lets pray for an end to ALL forms of the gospel of narcisstianity by way of repentance – and not by prideful downfall.

    Repent and reconcile–
    The Lord is at stake.

  2. Barry on September 18, 2018 at 1:25 am


    What sexual harassment are you referring to? I don’t go to Mosaic anymore but I agree with everything everyone is saying. Whatever they are teaching, it’s not from the Bible. That’s the main reason I left. However, I still have friends and family there. If sexual harassment is an issue there, speak up for the sake of others. But please make sure it’s not a rumor. Thanks

    • H on September 18, 2018 at 10:46 am

      It’s not a rumor, I can promise you that. But theirs are not our stories to share. I’m sure it’ll come to light in its time.

  3. hd iphone wallpapers on September 9, 2018 at 2:45 pm

    Thanx for that. Nice Article

  4. Deb Mills on September 7, 2018 at 8:36 am

    Narcissistic leadership must be called out by someone. I don’t know Erwin McManus, but what he said sure rang true from past experiences of mine. For all of us, hurt seems to be a part of our church experiences. I’m sure his leadership and his church’s processes are flawed. We all need Jesus desperately. The folks I know personally from Mosaic Church are few but stellar people. Thanks, always, Carey, for bringing us the kind of content that moves us along in Kingdom work. This podcast may end up in my Friday Faves or on my Monday Morning leadership post. For those above hurt by their church situations, may God help you heal. Being side-lined or side-lining ourselves is the worst outcome in the brevity of this life.

    • Deb Mills on September 7, 2018 at 3:01 pm

      I’m so so sorry if I came off flippant. I know the deep confusing pain of being hurt by narcissistic leader(s). I don’t know him or his church at all except the people who we know who were from there years ago. This is the only time I have ever heard him speak. What he says about narcissism is true. From all the commenters, I clearly don’t know his character…as you seem to. So so sorry.

      • H on September 8, 2018 at 9:07 pm

        Thank you – I truly appreciate this comment!

    • Deb Mills on September 7, 2018 at 3:04 pm

      I read every comment with sadness and familiarity at the problem. Again, I don’t know his character. I support Carey Nieuwhof…if by promoting you mean my putting this podcast on my blog, it’s because of the problem of narcissism. Anyone listening will most likely scroll down to these comments as well which has given you a platform to sound an alarm.

  5. Mike on September 6, 2018 at 7:50 pm

    Let be real. Mosaic is not a church. Mosaic is a CULT. It’s really the church of Erwin or church of McManus

    This abuse, narcissist has been called out many times. Dating back to 2005. Just go look up mosaic of pain. It’s all consistent and the same 13 years later. This guy needs to be ousted just like Bill and Mark Driscoll. He’s a fraud.

    I’m done with this false prophet. Let’s share this article and finish this narcissist

  6. Staley on September 6, 2018 at 7:12 pm

    Oh the things I could say! The hurt they caused so many of the LGBTQ members of their former staff, employees, and church membership is disgusting. I was bullied and mistreated by pastors there for being transgender and not allowed to even volunteer. Friends of mine on the worship team were manipulated and gaslit all the time, and the endless narcissism from their leaders was appalling. They just want to be celebrities themselves. The bodyguards walking him out to his car, the mean, rude, unkind behavior from his children, the list just goes on and on. Most hurtful to me was when I was essentially told I wasn’t welcomed there bc I was trans and “gave too many hugs,” like I was being too flirtatious with the “straight” men there. Ridiculou. There’s just no reasoning or talking to them, it’s alwaus your fault, it’s always them who will win and make you out to be but s. Don’t get me started on all the amazing pastors who left. I’m done w this mess.

  7. JJ on September 6, 2018 at 3:02 pm

    I really appreciate listening to these guys (who have so much to offer those of us who work in churches trying to lead people to Jesus). You challenged me to make it all about Jesus and become more authentic myself. I appreciate what you said about the Global Leadership conference. We are all flawed in some way, yet we don’t make excuses, we live life together and grow toward the higher calling of living the Christian life.

    • Former Mosaicer on September 6, 2018 at 4:51 pm

      Erwin McManus and his staff abuse, gaslight, and excommunicate their volunteers.

  8. Person on September 6, 2018 at 2:19 pm

    I was there when they stopped serving food…
    it wasn’t a big deal.
    If anyone was upset about it they were upset about the fact that the two teams still recieving food (on the church’s dime) were teams led by his two children (Pastoral Care and Worship Team). I am also aware of a position solely catered to serving Erwin.
    Somebody give this man a mirror.

    • Anonymous on September 6, 2018 at 2:21 pm

      That’s funny “Person!” Erwin actually has his own private greenroom backstage with plenty of mirrors!

      Oh… and water bottles.

      • Brooke on September 6, 2018 at 5:52 pm

        I stopped attending after they spent 5,000 dollars on fresh juice for the worship team and pastor staff at their conference.

        The waste of money is disgusting. This church serves no one. SURE 4000 on a mission trip to some third world country, but they straight up told one volunteer group to stop bringing homeless people to church and serving the homeless was a waste of time because they’re drunks and drug addicts.

        Erwin’s son Aaron is also a jerk. For all the crap his son has done to volunteers you’d think his dad would have remove him, but nope. Covers up all that kids problems. Must have a mental health issue.

        • Anon on September 6, 2018 at 5:59 pm

          In addition, they tell us tithes go to these international outreach trips, but having gone on one myself, they told us specifically “you may not ask anyone inside mosaic for money – only people on the outside.” They didn’t contribute a dime to the so-called “missions” they claim to sponsor.

          • Anonymous on September 6, 2018 at 6:07 pm

            That’s true I went on a mission trip with Mosaic and had to either fund it myself or ask people who were not apart of the church to contribute.

        • Anonymous on September 6, 2018 at 6:11 pm

          I also saw receipts for a conference a few years back (a volunteer friend of mine sorted through their receipts) only to find the same thing. Thousands of dollars spent on coffee and juices for the worship team. Not a dime spent on the volenteers who helped organize the entire conference at Ace Hotel. All of which were expected to arrive hours before the conference began. While the band was getting their hair and makeup done backstage.

          • Anonymous. on September 6, 2018 at 6:14 pm

            I know someone who played for this conference and was told he needed to pay his admission to volunteer his time.

  9. Me too on September 6, 2018 at 2:10 pm

    Funny how Erwin is talking about how he’s not a narcissist but simultaneously calls himself a prophet hahaha

  10. METOO on September 6, 2018 at 9:18 am

    Erwin is not only the biggest narcissist, he’s also a master manipulator.

    “It’s so obvious, everybody knows. It’s not like this is a secret. The team knows. But the big picture is there are millions of people that are coming and don’t know what’s happening. They don’t need to know. But the more we talk, the more they are going to know. The immediate team knows. We are at the point where Mosaic is going to launch into the future or we are going to keep shooting ourselves” – Mosaic Mexico Pastor Emerson Nowtony on Erwin’s Leadership – (SOURCE: TLS Audio Tapes)

    Also, Erwin’s “what happened to me sob story of losing millions, business partners losing, fashion designer” – is nothing more than a theatrical story to get you to sympathize with him. He is at fault for all of those businesses failing because HE DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO LEAD AND HE WANTS ALL THE ATTENTION AND IT’S EVERYONE ELSE’S FAULT BUT HIS.

    Corey, if you want a starter list of 100 people and you talk to each one about why they left, I will keep sending you a 100 more – until I don’t have any. You’ll hear stories opposite of everything this man said and stories of PAIN HURT and why they left the church. These people have texts screen shots, audio recordings, video, and it’s by the thousands.

    Also, why have so many pastors left MOSAIC in the last four years and none of them go to MOSAIC eventhough they live in LOS ANGELES.

    I’d delete this fake leader from your website – it’s going to look bad as more information comes out and you’ll delete it anyways.

  11. Anonymous. on September 5, 2018 at 9:22 pm

    As a former leader, volunteer, and member of Mosaic, this actually pained me to listen to – on many levels. Myself and literally dozens of my friends left Mosaic after being emotionally and psychologically abused by the staff, who demanded complete loyalty and unquestioning support, and the cost of not giving it was social isolation, mass unfollowings on social media, smear campaigns, and being berated until you either conformed or left the church entirely. This narrative about volunteers being ungrateful, disconnected, needing to learn to serve and give because they’re entitled – nothing could be further from the truth. Hundred – yes, HUNDREDS – of us who have left Mosaic gave, gave, gave, gave. Hours upon hours of our lives, our time, our trust, our willingness to connect the people we love to the community we were proud to be a part of – only to be told what we did was never enough. Only to be abandoned by the very people we brought and entrusted to Mosaic when we became social pariahs for a failure to adequately comply with Mosaic’s overwhelming expectations. They shame you and kick you out if you disagree. A friend of mine, when he was in his process of leaving, was told by a staff member, “If you disagree with Erwin, you disagree with God.” The moment you question is the moment they begin to push you out. In addition, this mentality of “Serve your leaders” is literally the opposite of what Jesus said, when he said “If you want to be great, then be a servant.” The leadership at Mosaic uses this concept of Jesus’ to persuade their volunteers to give more for less while not participating in that practice of servant-hearted leadership themselves. They do not lead by example. Those of us who left are still being generous, still serving, still invested in being a source of light and life for the people in our lives, because those are the parts of us that first drew us to Mosaic. We wanted a place to be generous and wholehearted. Those of us who left have left because Mosaic is a black hole of narcissism that takes and takes and never rewards you but for complete and utter compliance to their social expectations and spiritual manipulation, and there is nowhere inside a black hole for our desires to give and to serve to actually land. I am frustrated, listening to this, on behalf of every one of Mosaic’s volunteers – past and present – whose lives are turned over to Mosaic in trust and sincerity, and who are yet being spoken of as entitled, petty, and selfish. They are anything but. Nobody left Mosaic because they weren’t being fed a meal when they volunteered. Everyone I know who left, left because Mosaic does not value the people inside it.

  12. DoesntMatter on September 5, 2018 at 8:31 pm

    Interviewing the most narcissistic Los Angeles megachurch about narcissism. Brilliant.

    • Anonymous. on September 5, 2018 at 9:23 pm


    • B on September 6, 2018 at 6:07 pm

      *grabs my popcorn*

      Very much looking forward to all of the sexual abuse & harassment allegations about his son, Aaron, to be made public!

      Narcissists sure do love to control the narrative. Most of the things Erwin said in this podcast are things multiple leaders at Mosaic have done (over & over again I can’t even count the number of people who have left because of the abuse). Me and many of my friends have tried reconciling and communicating with the leaders at Mosaic about the harm they have caused and at BEST received no reply. Others got gaslighted and shoved out. Narcissists can’t take criticism? The irony is GLARINGGGGG. Mosaic hurts people and doesn’t seem to care. Put that on your billboard 😇

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