Insecure Leaders, Part 1
In two previous texts, we saw some of the symptoms that are revealed in leaders due to personal insecurity. As the weight of our leadership and responsibilities increase, the cracks that may be in our foundation widen. We see that other leaders in the Bible also faced the same challenges we do. Some allowed God to help them, while others did not change and saw their leadership not reach its full potential. Thankfully, God has answers from his word for every challenge we may face.
1. Insecure leaders claim the credit for success
It is a thrill and a joy to see God’s plans and purposes come to pass through your life. It is a humbling experience to see the eternal destinies of people change as God uses you. A secure leader realizes that we are simply vessels in God’s hands that He uses for His great work. Paul had this perspective as factions in the church at Corinth had lined up to promote either Paul or Apollos.
5 Who is Apollos, and who is Paul, that we should be the cause of such quarrels? Why, we’re only servants. Through us God caused you to believe. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. 6 My job was to plant the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God, not we, who made it grow. 7 The ones who do the planting or watering aren’t important, but God is important because he is the one who makes the seed grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters work as a team with the same purpose. Yet they will be rewarded individually, according to their own hard work. 9 We work together as partners who belong to God. You are God’s field, God’s building.
— 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 NLT
Secure leaders are able to pass the credit on to God and to the team members who help and assist. They operate from a heart of thankfulness and graciousness, realizing that their role is but a portion and that all true fruitfulness is a result of God’s hand. They are also able to be objective and see their faults and shortcomings when things fail. Insecure leaders are blinded to their weaknesses and therefore constantly blame others. This causes them never to see the truth that causes change and development.
A test of our heart in this area comes when someone else is given public credit for what you do and your contribution goes unrecognized. That is why we are instructed that the work that we do should be done “with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men” (Ephesians 6:7). We will not receive the full commendation for what we do this side of eternity, so we must keep our eyes upon God and serve from a heart of love whether what we do is seen or not.
2. Insecure leaders will not allow others to shine
A God-sized vision cannot be accomplished alone. It will always be necessary to build a capable team to achieve God’s mandate. Unfortunately, an insecure leader feels threatened by the success of others on the team. Talented people are rejected or driven out as they are perceived as a threat.
One of the most tragic stories in the Bible centers on Saul who should have been thrilled to have such a loyal and successful person such as David, yet he viewed him with suspicion due to jealously.
5 So David went out wherever Saul sent him, and behaved wisely. And Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants. 6 Now it had happened as they were coming home, when David was returning from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women had come out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy, and with musical instruments. 7 So the women sang as they danced, and said:
“Saul has slain his thousands ,
And David his ten thousands .”
8 Then Saul was very angry, and the saying displeased him; and he said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands , and to me they have ascribed only thousands . Now what more can he have but the kingdom?” 9 So Saul eyed David from that day forward.
— 1 Samuel 18:5-9
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Saul’s personal insecurity could not allow someone to be more successful than he was. The fact that David was on the front lines fighting and bringing victory to the country and his king was exactly what should be happening. This jealousy drove Saul to make poor decisions and eventually he lost his life and the kingdom.
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Jesus gives us a great example how he raised up others to accomplish great tasks, even greater than his own.
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do , because I go to My Father.
— John 14:12
Jesus shared his power and gave away his trade secrets. He empowered his followers to carry on his mandate and was not threatened by how it would make him look. A true leader and father wants those that he raises up to achieve more than he could. As Oral Roberts has said, “There is no true success without a successor.”
As we lead, we have an ongoing opportunity to develop and grow in our character. I trust that each of us can be honest with some of our human shortcomings and allow God’s grace to change us. As He does, our ability to influence others for God’s glory will grow.