Borderline Personality Disorder. It's a vague label. Supposedly the term has to do with someone who is right on the edge of psychotic. I read on the internet that they have a high rate of suicide, but I have not found this to be true—they make other people suicidal.
While the diagnosis sounds vague, some of the characteristics are recognizable: emotionally mercurial, can be extremely charming then turn in an instant to completely outraged, cause chaos and confusion everywhere they go. They are master manipulators.
A psychologist tells me that the key word is power. They flirt, seduce, even have sex for power. They intimidate, confuse, cry, charm, apologize, scream, cajole, and lie for power. They steal and cheat for power. They pit one group against another to stay in power. They create chaos and make everyone confused to keep power.
In almost every church I've pastored, I've dealt with a resident BPD person who had a position of power. I can't go toe-to-toe with them without doing myself tremendous political damage. If I'm lucky, I can create a healthier element in the church and force the person into the open, which makes him leave. Then I keep him at bay until he finds a vulnerability, like if I'm tired or sick or distracted.
I've had a couple of churches that had several of these crazies band together and keep the church flopping about under a steel net.
In the first church, I took them on. Tried to be direct, loving, honorable—righteous. They nearly destroyed me. Really. And that's another story.
I'm in another one now. They're too powerful for me to take on.
They can't have my guts this time. I won't walk into the punches like I did before. My footwork is better. My strategy is better.
I won't sacrifice me or my family in a quixotic attempt to save them from themselves.
I will take care of me and my loved ones. I'll minister to the ones I can.
And I'll get out as gracefully as I can as soon as I can.
They can be sick if they want. But I won't be sick with them.