Secure Leaders

God created each of us in such a way so that our deepest needs can only be truly met by Him and within His plan for man.  We were designed to worship, to have meaningful relationships, to have a sense of eternity and many other heart-level desires.  Before knowing Christ, many of us tried to find these needs met in places other than where God designed, resulting in frustration and pain.

Man was created by God to have a healthy sense of dignity and worth.  He is the only one who can fulfill these needs of security.  If self-worth is not fully met in who God has made us as children, man desperately searches for other places for security.  Two inadequate, but typical paths are: (1) in what others say or think about us or (2) in our performance.  If we take these paths into ministry, we are doomed for frustration, injuring those we are to serve and not fulfilling the God-given mandate on our life.

God did not design ministry and service for our own needs to be met, but to help meet the needs of others.  We can unknowingly abuse ministry because we are using it for a purpose other than what God intended it for.

Positions of leadership cause the cracks in our foundation to widen.  The baggage that we carry in life grows heavier as our responsibilities increase.  A healthy leader can recognize dysfunction and go to God for answers.  Unfortunately, our personal insecurities blind us at times and we instead defend, deny or deflect these issues rather than getting Biblical solutions.

I so wish that what I am writing about came out of someone else’s testimony, but unfortunately many of these symptoms came from my own life experience.  I saw that others in the Bible struggled with some of these same issues.  Many Biblical leaders grappled with insecurity – some overcame them and fulfilled their call, while others allowed their insecurities to carry them down a negative spiral to destruction.

Let’s look at some typical signs of insecurity in leaders and find God’s answers.

1.    Insecure leaders have a misplaced idea of success and failure

The reality of ministry is that all success and fruitfulness comes from God while much of the failure is a result of our mistakes and shortcomings.  Even when doing everything right with proper motives, many times people will not respond and our efforts will not have the desired effect we hoped for in their lives.  A leader who is secure in Christ can take the risk of getting out of the boat of their comfort zone, because they realize that failure is only an event, not who they are.

Leaders with identity problems never take the blame for negative results.  It is always someone else’s fault in their mind.  Conversely, any degree of success must be because of their skillful application of wisdom and their leadership skill.  Paul realized that what was happening through his ministry was entirely because of God.

2 Cor 10:16-18 MSG

16 And we’ll all still be within the limits God sets as we proclaim the Message in countries beyond Corinth. But we have no intention of moving in on what others have done and taking credit for it. 17 “If you want to claim credit, claim it for God.” 18 What you say about yourself means nothing in God’s work. It’s what God says about you that makes the difference.

What God does in our life is because of his grace that was given to us.  This grace to minister was given to us, but not for our own benefit.

Eph 3:2  NIV

“Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you.”

As we avoid pride we are positioned to receive more grace as James tells us it is given to the humble.

2.    Insecure leaders care greatly about the opinion of others

Since God is the only one who sees everything, we truly are playing our lives in front of the audience of One.  Only His opinion is true because only His perspective is accurate.  If a leader is consumed with pleasing people, he is plugged into the wrong source and will experience frustration.

Jesus made an amazing statement in John 5:41 (NLT): 

“Your approval or disapproval means nothing to me.”  Because He was secure in His Father’s love, He did not find it necessary for others to approve of Him.  Kenneth Hagin said that a sign of true spiritual maturity is deadness to both censure and praise.  Either or both do not affect the secure leader.

Paul seemed to have this same perspective.

1 Cor. 4:1-4  NLT

“So look at Apollos and me as mere servants of Christ who have been put in charge of explaining God’s secrets. 2 Now, a person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful. 3 What about me? Have I been faithful? Well, it matters very little what you or anyone else thinks. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point. 4 My conscience is clear, but that isn’t what matters. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide.”

3.    Insecure leaders are competitive

Many of us were brought up in the competitive environment of sports where in order for us to win, someone must lose.  Many times, Christian leaders feel that if someone out there is getting a bigger piece of the pie, then theirs must be smaller as a result.  This causes the insecure leader to do the exact opposite of what we are commanded in 1 Cor 12:26:

And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

This drive to be ahead seemed to also be a part of the leaders that Jesus was raising up.  In Mark 10, James and John wanted the best places beside Jesus in glory.  This quest for position did not sit well with the other disciples.  Because John was allowed to write his gospel account, he wanted all Christians for thousands of years to know that he beat Peter in a foot race to the tomb.

John 20:4

So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first.

Even though there is not much spiritual significance to that statement, John thought that we would be blessed to know that he won and Peter lost.

Thankfully in the body of Christ and ministry, it does not have to work that way.  God does not want us to live in jealousy, with a fake smile on our face when we hear of someone else doing well.  Each church and ministry can fulfill their mandate, encourage other parts of the body and collectively watch Satan lose more and more people from his grasp.  We can all win and celebrate the success of others.

4.    Insecure leaders are jealous of the success of others and constantly compare

At the end of the earthly ministry of Jesus, He was giving some final instruction and encouragement to Peter about his future and reminded him to “Follow Me.”

John 21:19-22

19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.” 20 Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” 21 Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”

Instead of obeying the command of Jesus, the first thing Peter did was to worry about John.  Evidently he misunderstood Jesus to say, “And also make sure that John is following Me.”  Following Jesus is a full-time job and will take all of our efforts and dedication.

2 Cor 10:12  NLT

“12 Oh, don’t worry; I wouldn’t dare say that I am as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are! But they are only comparing themselves with each other, and measuring themselves by themselves. What foolishness!”

One of the challenges of our modern world of Christianity is that we want to have a composite ministry – kind of a “best of” all the great ministries we see on TV and read about in books.  Firstly, we cannot be a combination of everyone else, but can only use the gifts that God has given us.  Secondly, Christian TV edits out all of the mistakes and we only witness the polished version of each church service.  Thankfully, we can be inspired by how God is blessing others, yet realizing that God is giving us the grace to accomplish our specific task.

5.    Insecure leaders find their greatest joy in ministry

It is a thrill and honor for God to use us in this kingdom, yet we are not to find our highest pleasure in what we do.  Jesus sent out seventy-two followers with an assignment and equipped them for success by giving them His power and name.  They came back pumped up and excited with what happened as people’s lives were changed.  As they reported back, Jesus realized they needed to refocus their joy on something higher.

Luke 10:17-20  NIV

17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in Your name.” 18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.  19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

God did not design ministry to make us happy, but for others to be happy.  We should go into ministry with a secure sense of who we are, who God is and our incredible relationship with Him.  The Message Bible sheds further light on what Jesus said:  Luke 10:20  MSG, “Not what you do for God but what God does for you — that’s the agenda for rejoicing.”

In summary, God wants each of us to survive the ups and downs of ministry with its challenges and wide range of emotions.  We can be secure in who we are as children of God and serve others for their benefit, not our own.  As we find our place more and more “in Him” we will find it less and less in what others say about us.  As we allow God’s word to affect our heart, we will be more satisfied in our life and also see more lasting fruit in our ministry.