Leadership is not easy. The reality is that every person leads at some level. The question is not whether or not you are a leader as much as how well are you leading. And if you’re an insecure leader, your leadership is not as strong as it could be.
Growing up in the church, I saw one insecure leader after another, but I never realized they were insecure until I started to work at Redeemer 18 years ago. I began serving Mike Servello Sr. as his kids’ pastor, and currently serve his son, Mike Servello Jr., as his campus pastor. Mike and his father are by far the most secure leaders I have ever met. It was only through their confident yet humble, Christ-centered leadership that made me see those other leaders (and even myself at times) as insecure.
One of the things that amazes me most about the church is the epidemic proportions at which insecurity runs through church leadership. If you want to lead for the long haul, your security had better be found in Christ. Insecure leaders create drama, havoc and pain in the lives of those they lead. Ask yourself if the following is true for you; as I wrote them I found them convicting—and humbling.
What does an insecure leader look like?
1. They surround themselves with people they can control. An insecure leader hinders the organization because they don’t hire or attract the best people for a job. They attract people who are not as good as they are…people with less experience who can be controlled mentally or emotionally.
2. They misinterpret other people’s motives to fit their story. Insecure leaders have to be right. So they misinterpret what people do and why they do it to make themselves emerge the hero. When people stand up to an insecure leader, they write them off as jealous or arrogant. Motives get misrepresented so they can be wrong.
3. They look at those who work for them as employees, not their team. Insecure leaders don’t look for the best ideas. They can’t collaborate because they don’t value other people’s opinions. They prefer to forego extended work relationships, because it’s easier to fill your team with disposable cogs rather than friends and teammates you love and trust. They find their identity in how many people work for them rather than how many people they work with.
4. They consider anyone “disloyal” who disagrees with them. Insecure people don’t see people as people; they see them as either on their side or against them.They are the center of all things.
5. They mishandle conflict. Insecure leaders either avoid conflict through passive-aggressive means, or they look at every situation as a potential conflict.They are either too soft and squishy or harsh and uncaring. Secure leaders handle conflict with truth and grace working together, because relationships matter more than being right.
Jesus was the most emotionally secure person who ever lived. He understood who He was, where He was from and where He was going. He had incredible clarity of mission and purpose. Our security as leaders has to come from Whose we are.
We are all looking for comfort. I love how the Heidelberg Catechism handles the question of where we find our comfort in life and death: We find it in the fact that we are not our own but belong—body and soul—to our faithful Savior Jesus Christ, who has fully paid for all our sins with His precious blood. Any time we place something at the center of our lives besides Him, it will produce insecurity when something bumps up against it…I say “when” because it will get bumped. Everything does.
When Christ fails to be our center, we compensate. The act of compensating to keep something central to our lives that was never meant to be will always produce insecurity. We know deep down that thing we are living for will fail us. Even if it’s a good thing, it will still fail us.
Security in the life of a leader comes from seeing and treasuring Christ in all things. As those who lead at home, church, school and in the marketplace, we must find our security in Whose we are.