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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 input from others

Let’s use pastors as an example. If you can minister to others freely, but struggle with receiving ministry from others… you might be insecure. Leaders never outgrow the need to let trusted people speak into their  life.

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 the expectations of others 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 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. Your calling can never deliver what only God can: a lasting inner sense of value. When we look to our 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. Share your thoughts with me so we can learn together!

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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