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Reverse Messiah Complex

Jul 28, 2022

One of the things that Trisha and I realized early on when we left ministry in 2005 is that we both suffered from The Messiah Complex. Wikipedia defines this as: A messiah complex is a state of mind in which the individual believes he/she is, or is destined to become, a savior.

This isn’t something you set out to suffer from as a pastor…but over the course of time, it creeps in. You begin to think if I’m not at this event, then it won’t be the same. If I don’t speak this weekend, then people won’t come back to church. If we don’t get together with this couple, then their marriage will fail. If we don’t have them over for dinner then they will stop serving. Before you know it, you are relying more on what YOU do in ministry than what GOD can do. Very slowly, you become the savior, you become the Messiah, your ministry is mostly dependent on you.

We totally lived this way, and didn’t even realize it until it was too late. As much as we suffered from the Messiah Complex in ministry, we suffered from what we call the Reverse Messiah Complex in our marriage. Justin and Trisha define RMC as: A state of mind in which a husband or wife places God like or Messiah sized expectations on their spouse. (This syndrome could apply to friendships as well).

What we realized when were separated, is that as we experienced loneliness,  anxiety, stress, fear, depression, insecurity or uncertainty, we looked to one another to save us. We each expected the other to fill a void in our life that only God is designed to fill. It was a lose/lose situation. The person that has the expectations is already hurting, and then they get hurt more as the spouse can’t meet their expectations. Then the spouse that fails to be the Messiah feels like a failure.

The results of RMC is a lot of resentment, a lack of trust and a loss of confidence. Here is our advice to you today for your marriage or for any relationship: If you are feeling unfulfilled in your marriage or in a friendship…if you are feeling resentful of your spouse or of a friend, ask yourself this question: Am I asking them to fill a role in my life or solve an issue in my life that only God can? Am I expecting them to be my Messiah?

This isn’t a “one and done” thing. This is an ongoing process to evaluate and navigate and talk. We still have conversations with one another to discuss our expectations and if they are fair to each other. But having this conversation will improve your marriage and your relationship with God.