Well, I guess it was a long time coming. The reason I don’t trust pastors, gurus, political leaders, celebrities, and motivational speakers is quite simple. Those “jobs”, that some might call a “calling” require a masterful and careful handling and management of the ego. That’s just a fact. And as we all know, a small minority of human beings can handle their ego, properly. Most of us cannot. That’s another fact.

Firstly, no one goes into the preaching, motivational and influencing game if they don’t possess a huge ego. It ain’t happening. It means you think what you are saying is worthy for other people to hear. That takes a huge amount of confidence or sometimes “ego”. Secondly, the bigger the ego, the harder it is to handle and manage. Thirdly, someone with a huge ego, usually, isn’t far from being a narcissist.

Here is some useful information about narcissists. They tend to have an exaggerated sense of self-importance, a sense of entitlement and require constant, excessive admiration. They expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it, they exaggerate achievements and talents, they are preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty, or the perfect mate, they take advantage of others to get what they want, they behave in an arrogant or haughty manner, coming across as conceited, boastful, and pretentious and so many more symptoms according to the Mayo Clinic[1]. You just pictured in your head some people that fit the description, didn’t you? I know you did!

The thing is, to become a guru, a pastor, or a motivational speaker, at the very least a good and ethical one, it requires a special set of skills, that very few people possess. Being a guide of some kind, you must first understand the responsibility that falls on your shoulders. Suddenly, it isn’t about you; it is about others. It is about the collective wellbeing. A shepherd does things that will help his flock. A guide does things that will help his followers. A motivational speaker is there to motivate so others can get better, be better and improve; they shouldn’t be there to be covered in praise and compliments so they could feel important. It isn’t about vanity. That’s not what true leaders, gurus, pastors, priests, celebrities, and motivational speakers do. But sadly, that’s how it goes.

A true shepherd, a true guide must follow a specific code of ethics. They must follow the code because they want to, because they understand it, not because they must. People who are entrusted with helping others must understand why they are doing what they are doing. It isn’t an easy job, and it is a tremendous responsibility. The way I see it, being a guiding light requires a list of skills such as:

  • Self-sacrifice. It means you sincerely must put your own ego, wants, needs and agenda on the side so you could help others. What you want doesn’t matter; the only thing that matters is helping others even if there isn’t any gain for you. Can you do that? Very few people are that altruistic. To most people, being unselfish doesn’t come naturally, so they must cultivate this precious skill. People with a sizeable ego tend to not self-sacrifice often…
  • Patience. Now, that’s a skill that is worth billions. It requires you not to be hasty, impetuous. You must wait. The people you are guiding won’t get it the first time around because they are coming to you for help. Solving the problem won’t be fast and precise; it will be slow and messy. You’ll need to have patience and accept that everyone moves at their own pace, not yours! Can you do that?
  • Empathy. Sociopaths and narcissists can’t feel empathy, which is described as “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner” according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary. In a few words, can you try to understand others? Can you put yourself in their shoes? Can you at least try? Can you understand where the others are coming from? Can you understand they don’t see the world as you do? If you can’t do any of this, you might as well look for another job, respectfully.
  • Little to no judgment. I know, this one is tough, isn’t it? Not judging others is a close cousin to empathy. Current pain comes from past pain. When someone exhibits mean or destructive behavioral traits, it is coming from somewhere, most likely from their past. Traumas, hurt, wounds that haven’t healed are part of the human experience. A guide mustn’t judge those he is trying to help. Easier said than done, anyway.
  • Humility. This is one of the hallmarks of holiness in the Christian religion. Saints are supposed to consider themselves not worthy of the honor God bestows upon them. They are not supposed to be boisterous but rather humble. Same goes for the guides and shepherds. They must show humility and prove they don’t know everything. They must ask questions, seek answers, and recognize their own limitations, shortcomings, and failures. Those guides aren’t superhuman; they are as human as any of us. This might very well be the hardest skill to acquire and maintain.
  • Love. Ok, this is the hardest skill. As a guide or a shepherd, you cannot pick and choose who you love. You must love all and try to be there for everyone, those who do good and especially those who do bad things. That last part ain’t easy, trust me. Yet, being a guide requires loving those who follow you and it also requires wanting the best for them. Tricky, right? This whole business of guiding others ain’t easy!

Surely, if you are a guide, pastor, guru, political leader, celebrity, or a motivational speaker, you are not here to do people’s work. I suppose you are here to offer guidance and advice, which, once again, must be devoid of any self-interest. The people you are helping must do the work; you are not responsible for them or their actions. You can only offer guidance and advice, and the rest, it’s up to the individual.

I still do not trust pastors, gurus, political leaders, celebrities, and motivational speakers, as my default position. I know it sounds like a bigoted position, and maybe it is. I am fully aware of that. Yet, I am comfortable with my choice, that is based on personal experiences. I have seen too many people use their influence, charisma, powerful presence, means, seductive powers and their eloquence to fool and exploit people. Imagine putting your trust, your trauma, hell, your life into someone’s hands, feeling safe with them and then seeing the earth being yanked from under you. Imagine the pain, the despair, the betrayal.

It takes a whole lifetime of self-sacrifice, humility, love, minimal judgment, patience, and empathy to be a good guide or shepherd. Well, very few people can be that amazing, meaning the majority must be self-serving and egotistical, to stronger and lesser degrees. I am not saying they are evil people. Let’s relax a bit. I am simply saying some of those people who want to guide and influence others, aren’t suited for this job or “calling”. I believe most of them have a hard time separating their own ego with their people’s needs. All those skills I mentioned before, usually don’t come easily to us humans. We must cultivate them, work on them, practice them, and reinforce them. That is another conscious skill; knowing you must look after and polish those precious skills.

In fine, I don’t trust pastors, gurus, political leaders, celebrities, and motivational speakers. Most of them are slightly if not overly pretentious and arrogant, at least the ones I have met. You can see it in their eyes and behavior. Then again, if they lose me as a customer or a follower, their livelihood and certainly their ego won’t suffer one bit.

Just one man’s opinion…

Now smile and go on with your day!

Freeman. B

[1] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcissistic-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20366662

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