Why are so many leaders—even successful leaders—insecure?

In this exceptionally candid interview, Josh Gagnon, who pastors the 5th fastest growing church in America, talks about insecurity, ambition and how to overcome your personal issues while leading

Welcome to Episode 61 of the Podcast.

Josh Gagnon and Carey Nieuwhof


Guest Links

Josh Gagnon

Episode 17

The Joshua Gagnon Leadership Podcast

Josh on Facebook

Josh on Twitter

Next Level Church

Next Level Church on Facebook

Next Level Church on Twitter

Links Mentioned in this Episode

Orange Tour

Craig Groeschel; Episode 52

Andy Stanley

Steven Furtick

Reggie Joiner

Casey Graham

3 Things You Can Do Right Away

  1. Find the root of the insecurity. For Josh, it was no one ever believing that he could never do what God called him to do. When he realized he lacked affirmation, he sought a counselor  and discovered that the greatest answers in life come from the right questions. Do you see insecurity in your conversations? Do you hear insecurity when you talk? When you start to identify that what you’re doing is through insecurity, you can address the problem.
  2. Admit you’re insecure. Insecure people don’t feel good about themselves and have something to prove to others. Senior pastors work really hard, it’s for other people, and they don’t get the credit. It creates an insecurity for pastors because it’s God gets all the recognition, and that’s ok. Security is going to come when you see yourself as a representation of God, and you’re ok with how God has chosen to use you. When the church becomes your identity, it never gives you what you hoped it would give. But if you allow God to grant your identity, you can walk in security.
  3. Find a mentor. Get a mentor who’s older than you, because the more you listen to their guidance, you’re taking advantage of the fruit they have to offer. Give people permission to speak into your weaknesses and insecurities, and open yourself up to vulnerability. Ask questions with pure intentions and allow your mentor to offer wisdom they didn’t even know they had. Try to find out where you’re the weakest, and start from there.

Quotes from Josh

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Next Episode: Jerry Gillis

So is the missional or attractional church the future of the church? We’ll talk to Jerry Gillis, a mega-church pastor from Buffalo NY who says the answer is yes, and will show you exactly why and how that’s true.

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CNLP 061: The Insecure Leader – An Interview with Josh Gagnon


  1. aPEON on January 16, 2016 at 2:25 am

    Insecure Leader?–Oxymoron

    Personal Issues are to be resolved prior to Leadership—that is the Biblical method.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 16, 2016 at 12:18 pm

      I wish it worked that way. If you find a leader who says they have all their issues worked out, the first step is to decide not to follow or trust them. Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Elijah, Paul and others clearly did not arrive at ‘perfect’ before they led. God used them powerfully. In fact, our issues give us and others a front row seat to God’s incredible grace. God doesn’t use perfect pictures, he uses broken people.

      • aPEON on January 16, 2016 at 1:21 pm

        Not sure about Elijah, but ALL the others you mentioned were Redeemed, and brought through severe trials before God put them in leadership roles. It also appears that ‘issues’ that arose later were taken by them to God, Who resolved them before they continued. Once they resolved them, they returned to serving.

        • Carey Nieuwhof on January 16, 2016 at 2:43 pm

          I think we read the scriptures differently. I’m not talking about moral failure, just things like insecurity, questioning, and the challenges life and leadership bring. I’m not picking a fight. The fact that the struggles of leaders are recorded in scripture is of great help to all of us who lead. And yes, I agree, they are all redeemed. So, the by the grace of God, are we.

          • aPEON on January 17, 2016 at 2:12 am

            Not trying to be contentious, but I think we all read them the same way, God designed us, and gave us the Scriptures, so I think we are all very similar. We do come to different conclusions, and see things a little bit differently, and express them differently. As I have observed ‘Leadership’ during my life, the innate nature, and condition, of the ‘Leader’ is what people emulate. Last Fall, USC lost to UW in football, because the USC team was NOT disciplined. The coach, Sarkisian, could not establish discipline in the team, because he was not disciplined in his own life. I have found this to be fundamentally operational in every area of life. So, to have an ‘insecure leader’ is to produce ‘insecure followers’. Leaders, of course, can have feelings of insecurity, but they then must submit that to the Lord, and understand that He will empower them, as the men we previously spoke of did. As that becomes the rule in their lives, they then become the men of faith, that produces others of faith.

            We are also told to not argue over words, but words are important as they do carry many meanings. It is the meaning that is important. So, if you are talking about ‘Leaders’ who encounter feelings of insecurity, that is one thing, but if you are talking about ‘Leaders’ who are insecure, then there is a problem.

            I much enjoyed you 7 points on ‘Peaking’, and have observed those in action as well, and have forwarded that to my Pastor.

            I will continue here as I see many areas in which I will be blessed.

            His best for you


      • aPEON on January 16, 2016 at 1:27 pm

        I also did NOT say ‘perfect’. I said resolved, the resolve involves a submission to God, and His way, as He is our strength, our Savior, and our Friend.

  2. Jon Perrin on November 13, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    Outstanding podcast. I appreciate Josh’s vulnerability. That’s unfortunately quite rare in church leaders… esp. highly successful ones.

  3. […] you struggle with insecurity, by the way, this is an amazing conversation with Josh Gagnon, who leads a top 5 fastest growing church in America and has had to battle his own insecruities in […]

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