Crisis Reveals Leadership Insecurity: Why That Matters and How to Address it
It’s often been said that hard times don’t create character; they reveal it. Another area illuminated by crisis is insecurity. The debilitating effects of insecurity boldly come rushing out of the shadows when the insecure leader is forced into crisis management. It can’t be helped. Crisis demands a reaction from the leader. It can’t be ignored. So the normal mode of leading through being reactive instead of proactive is no longer an option.
I have spent time with many successful leaders over the last forty years. Without exception, each leader has expressed to me the concern of whether they can continue the climb or if they even have what it takes to reach new heights.
If we’re honest, I think all of us have some elements of insecurity that we deal with. No matter how successful we’ve become, there is usually a voice in the back of our minds questioning our ability to conquer the next obstacle.
"The debilitating effects of insecurity boldly come rushing out of the shadows when the insecure leader is forced into crisis management."
Insecurity is detrimental to leadership, plain and simple. But ignoring our insecurity takes that issue and magnifies it.
I believe we can overcome our insecurities when we are willing to acknowledge that we have them and desire to overcome them. Confessing that I have a problem is often the beginning of healing.
However, the unwillingness to allow the light to shine on our insecurity actually allows it to incubate within us and grow. Insecure leaders tend to fall into the operating mode of “dealing with it later.” We convince ourselves that it’s not that big of a deal. Eventually we'll get around to working through our insecurities.
This is why we get blindsided when a crisis arises. The need for confident leadership is undermined by the companion of insecurity we have become so accustomed to having with us. Leading this way always results in tragic results.
A Parable of a Harmful Companion
I once heard a story told about a family that had a small baby in their home. One night when the dad went to put the child to bed, a rattlesnake was in its crib. The dad was obviously startled by the sight of the snake. He began looking for something to kill the snake with when suddenly he was surprised to hear the snake speak to him. “Please don’t hurt me,” the snake replied. “I’m a good rattlesnake. I love children and want to protect them. This is why I’m here.” The dad reluctantly trusted the snake and allowed it to live.
Over the next few months, every night the dad would put the child in the crib with the kind rattlesnake. He really seemed to be who he said he was and began to bring a sense of comfort to the whole family as he slept in the crib each night. But eventually the dad’s original fears were realized as he found his lifeless child in the crib one morning beside the rattlesnake. The dad said to the snake, “You lied to me. You said you were a good rattlesnake and that you loved children.” To the dad’s dismay, the snake replied, “You knew what I was when you let me stay in your house.”
This fictional story is a great example of why it's so crucial not to sweep your insecurities under the rug. You know they are going to eventually bring you pain. To be a successful leader over the long-haul, it’s imperative you confront them today. Choosing to put it off will only allow it to become a harmful companion that will turn on you when you least expect it.
How To Address Insecurity
If you are dealing with insecurity, here are a few helpful suggestions to lead you to the path of healing:
1) You’ve got to tell somebody.
As simple as this may sound, this is actually petrifying for the insecure leader. Your first thought is, “Who can I trust?” The inability to trust is at the heart of insecurity. Therefore, you must seek out a trusted mentor or counselor that you can share with. James 5:16 says, “Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.” (MSG)
2) Take a “deep-dive” into the Scriptures to (re)discover who you are in Jesus.
A lack of Biblical understanding as to who you are in Christ can lead to insecurity. When I grew up, it seemed like only those with a terrible past were the people with a real testimony. I often felt like I didn’t have much to say because I didn’t experience the same things that a lot of other people did.
However, I also noticed that many of the people with the “real” testimonies before salvation tended to always refer to themselves as though they still were that same person. 2 Corinthians 5:17 states, “Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone: a new life burgeons! Look at it!” (MSG) Anyone who has received Jesus’ free gift of salvation isn’t who they used to be. It is vital in overcoming insecurity to say what He says about who you are as a new creation.
3) Get honest about your gifts and calling.
Although it’s a little bit corny, the saying, “Where God guides, He provides” is a valid statement. This is so true for leaders. God calls us to places where He has equipped us to accomplish His calling. When we are leading in our “sweet-spot,” we rely heavily on the gifts that He has placed within us to fulfill his calling and purpose for our lives.
Yet nothing creates insecurity in us more than being placed in a position of leadership without the gifts necessary to accomplish the job. Could it be that a major contributor to your insecurity is that you aren’t gifted to do what you’re currently doing? If so, then be honest with yourself about who God created you to be. Just because you felt called into the ministry doesn’t necessarily mean that you were supposed to pastor a local church. Ministry calling can be much more broader than serving as a pastor. If you have a definite calling and gifts to shepherd the flock, then by all means do so. However, if you don’t, then don’t be afraid to expand your calling into areas of ministry that are in-line with your giftedness.
4) Learn how to discern and learn from what’s happening around you.
Your insecurity can show up at any moment. However, you can learn from past experiences to determine patterns. Nothing is worse for any leader than being blindsided. But being blindsided by the same thing over and over again is a revealing sign of insecurity. How? Because your insecurity cripples you from implementing the necessary safeguards to prevent the same thing from happening again. Insecurity will stop you in your tracks if you let it.
It’s so important in overcoming insecurity to learn the lessons from past difficulties, problems, and conflicts. The lessons learned prepare you to be ready when a similar situation arises again in the future. It really doesn’t matter whether you were successful or not in the last situation. What is important is to note what led up it. Learning from the past can strengthen your resolve to overcome in the future.
The time has come for you to move from being reactive in your leadership. Spend some time thinking through each of these four ways to address insecurity. You will discover that it’s much easier to become a proactive leader if you proactively tell a trusted mentor about what you are dealing with, discover who you are in Jesus, get honest about how you were created, and intentionally put forth the effort to discern and learn from the past.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us here at 95Network if you need to talk through any insecurity issues you may be facing. We are here to help in any way we can!
10 Days of Encouragement During Crisis
We all could use some encouragement right now. So we asked some of our ministry partners (like Karl Vaters, Lance Witt, Tony Morgan, and others) to share a devotional or thought for pastors during this time.
If you haven't grabbed this free download, just click here or on the image below! This is a print-ready file so you're welcome to print it out and keep it at your home office set-up or read it digitally!