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By February 9, 2017 Calling, Career, Leadership, Work

Many leaders struggle with the demon of insecurity. (I’m using the word “demon” metaphorically, not literally.) King Saul was the crown prince of this particular character flaw. Chosen by God to be Israel’s first king, Saul had good looks, leadership skills, flashes of spirituality… but he was painfully insecure. And his insecure tendencies led to a string of bad decisions.

It’s easy to read about Saul and think “What a knucklehead!” He had God in his corner, the prophet Samuel on his side, and the vast majority of people thought he rocked. Yet his insecurity trumped it all.

Fast forward to the 21st century. Insecure leaders are found everywhere: in the business world, in politics, in education—and unfortunately—in the Church. And it begs the question: what does a secure leader look like? A comprehensive answer is outside the scope of this blog. But let me offer up five behaviors for consideration. If you’re a leader, use them to take a look in the mirror:

Secure leaders let others have an opinion contrary to theirs

If you feel threatened when someone disagrees with you… you might be insecure. If you rule your team with an iron fist, squelching any hint of debate… you might be insecure. It’s healthy for a leadership team to debate ideas, as long as they have the good of the organization (and not their own personal agendas) in mind. Demanding blind loyalty indicates insecurity.

Secure leaders welcome help from others

Let’s use pastors as an example. If you can give of yourself to others freely, but struggle with receiving help  from others… you might be insecure. Leaders never outgrow the need to let trusted people speak into their life. Every pastor needs a pastor, a mentor, a coach. Secure leaders chase these relationships, because they know they’ll never reach full potential on their own.

Secure leaders are happy when other leaders succeed

If you get jealous when other leaders succeed… you might be insecure. I struggle with this one. My competitive side wants to rear up when I hear of another ministry similar to ours that is killing it. In those moments, insecurity tries to control me. Negative thoughts like “I’ll never be as successful as they are” or “They must be cutting corners” want to set up shop in my brain. It helps to remember God needs all of us to get His work done. Those other leaders are reaching people Converge Coaching never will. Converge Coaching is reaching people those other leaders never will.

Secure leaders can say “no”

If you struggle with telling people no… you might be insecure. The inability (or outright refusal) to say no often has insecurity at its root. Insecure leaders tend to overcommit. They allow other people’s expectations to set their calendar and priorities. They find themselves working on tasks others could (and should) do, and get distracted from doing the tasks only they can do. Saying no is part of being a good steward of your calling, time, and talent. What are the tasks only you can do—and are you prioritizing them accordingly? What are the tasks others can do—and why are those tasks still showing up on your to-do list? Secure leaders are not afraid of no.

Secure leaders get their identity from God, not people

If you allow your sense of value to rest upon how people respond to your leadership… you might be insecure. Secure leaders work from their identity, not for their identity. Your calling can never deliver what only God can: a lasting inner sense of value. When we look to work to make us feel worthwhile, we build on a shaky foundation. When we look to God to get our sense of value, we build on a rock.

King Saul lost everything. One reason? Insecurity ran his life. We have no indication he ever asked God to help him overcome this character weakness. The good news is we are not Saul. We don’t have to repeat his mistake. If you are leading an organization and struggle with insecurity, ask God for help. He stands ready to assist. Invite trusted friends and mentors to speak into your life.

I’m curious about what you would identify as other signs of a secure leader. Take a minute and share your thoughts with me so we can learn together.

I’m rooting and praying for you!

John Opalewski

Author John Opalewski

John Opalewski is a graduate of Oral Roberts University. He served as a pastor for fifteen years. He has worked in the business world for nearly two decades, serving in multiple leadership roles. John's experience as a leader in both the church and business arenas has made him a sought-after international speaker, coach and mentor.

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Join the discussion One Comment

  • Kim Lineaweaver says:

    Thank you John, for this blog. Though I am not in a leadership position in church or elsewhere right now, this made me think back to when I worked outside the home, and for a brief time when I was a Sunday school teacher for the 4-5 year old kids at a military chapel where my husband was stationed. Unfortunately, this is where I learned a harsh reality of how some people in leadership positions could be mean and cruel at times. I was afraid to speak up. I’ve since recognized as you said, that it is an insecurity within them. Most importantly, these points really hit home with me being a stay-at-home wife, mother, and home school teacher to my own children, who are now grown. I seemed to have trouble saying “NO” to others, and also being sensitive, took too many things personal, so it could be a struggle. I look back and wonder how I could have let others make me feel so intimidated. As you said, we get our worth/value from God, not others. I definitely fell into the “performance trap”. I wanted to be the best wife and mother to my husband and 4 children, but burnt myself out trying. Everyone seemed to always look to me for help, advice, mentoring, etc. I thought I was doing what I was suppose to be doing, and in part, I was, but not all of it was mine to do. Being a leader in anything does not mean that we are everyone’s Savior. Only Jesus is Savior to everyone. Of course I did learn as time went on, but not before unexpected health issues leveled me to the point I had no choice, but to BE STILL. I sat in my living room one day, unable to do the things I once did, the silence deafening, and I asked God, “Now what, what am I going to do God?” My two youngest sons at home were young teenagers at that time. My world had been built around being a caretaker and constantly doing for others. It has been a journey of learning to lean solely on God, and to say, NO, and to be more vocal about needing help, and not feel like a failure for doing so. I am a work in progress. As for your question on other thoughts of a good leader? I think one should be able to admit that they were wrong and take measures to resolve the problem, peacefully. I find that when I ask God to reveal things in me that need work…oh boy, look out. I tried to do the best I could in this area, teaching my kids that while you can’t change the past, you can learn, grow, forgive one another, and build a better future for yourself and those around you. Honesty and Truth are always the best answer. We aren’t the only ones who go through the embarrassment or humiliation of being wrong. Others just don’t admit it. Until you properly deal with the problems, intentional or unintentional, it will eat away at your self-worth and credibility, whether you are in leadership or not. Just as Jesus teaches us to humble ourselves and pray. We need to do this and lead by example. When we bring the situation into light, it is then that we are released from the burden/s, and begin the restoration and reconciliation process. (I have seen where this can bring tremendous positive spiritual growth and strength to a church, relationship, or any matter) What can others say then? There is nothing to talk about, you’ve already taken care of it. No secrets for anyone to gossip about…though they may anyhow. I’m sorry that I got a little long-winded. You stirred a passion in me. Thanks again! Kim ( :

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