Recognising and dealing with insecurity in leaders

Some good observations from Ron Edmondson:

Here are 7 traits you may see in an insecure leader:

Defensive towards any challenge – The insecure leader flares his or her insecurity when ideas or decisions made are challenged in any way. They remain protective of their position or performance.

Protective of personal information – The insecure leader keeps a safe distance from followers. Their transparency is limited to only what can be discovered by observation. When personal information is revealed, it’s always shared in the most positive light.

Always positions his or herself out front – Insecure leaders assume all key assignments or anything which would give attention to the person completing them. They are careful not to give others the spotlight.

Limits other’s opportunities for advancement – The insecure leader wants to keep people under his or her control, so as to protect their position.

Refuses to handle delicate issues – Insecure leaders fear not being liked, so they often ignore the most difficult or awkward situations.

Makes everything a joke – One huge sign of an insecure leader is that they make a joke about everything. Joking is a coping mechanism used to bring attention and a false sense of being liked to the insecure leader.

Overly concerned about personal appearance – Some insecure leaders are never far from a mirror. They are overly conscious of their clothing. Afraid of not being in style or being accepted as hip or cool, they are constantly looking for the latest fashion trends or attempting to be cutting edge with the gadgets they carry.

Please understand, all of us have moments of insecurity. Leaders, especially if they want to be effective, must learn to recognize signs of insecurity, figure out the root causes of it, and attempt to limit that insecurity from affecting their leadership.

Here are 5 ways to deal with insecurity as a pastor or leader:

Avoid comparisons – Insecurity often develops when a person compares his or herself to another. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Be yourself. Realize that who God designed you to be is not a mistake. Obviously, someone believed in your abilities as a leader. You need to stop comparing and start living in your own skin.

Concentrate on your abilities – What are you good at? Make a list of your good qualities. You probably have more than you think you do. In times of feeling insecure we often forget. Keep your list handy. It will help you to feel more confident if you focus more on the positives than the negatives.

Surround yourself with people who complement your weaknesses – Part of having a healthy organization is the strength that comes from different people. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are probably people who can do things you don’t feel comfortable doing. It’s not a sign of weakness to get others involved. It’s actually a sign of strength as a leader. (And its a more Biblical model of the church.)

Keep learning – Seek wisdom from other leaders. Read books. Take additional classes. Knowledge is power. The more you grow in information the more competent you will feel in your role. (By the way, when I feel overwhelmed or insecure, I read the stories like that of Gideon, Moses, Joseph, David, or Joshua repeatedly. Great encouragement.)

Ultimately, find your identity in what’s really secure – You have a relationship with Christ. Remember, “You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength”. If you are facing insecurity in leadership you may have to simply get better at walking by faith. “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24)

Insecurity will weigh you down and hold you back as a pastor or leader. It will keep you from doing all you were called to do. Don’t let it!

Peter serves as a pastor-teacher, at home and abroad, resourcing gospel-centred communities.

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