So you might be a little insecure as a leader, but how do you change that? If some of the signs of insecurity describe you, what do you do about it?
As I’ve wrestled this issue down in my life, I’ve made several key transitions that have helped significantly. Here are five changes that can help you deal with lingering insecurity:
1. Be generous with your praise. This might sound trivial, but it’s not. Insecure people are often jealous people. One of the best ways to combat jealously is to privately and publicly commend and compliment others. Especially if you don’t feel like it. If you’re afraid of building others up because you think it might diminish you in some way, that’s the perfect time to do it. Don’t remain silent. Don’t give them a back-handed compliment (it’s about time he did something good) and don’t qualify the praise (it was pretty good given her track record). Publicly celebrating the success of others will move you much closer to what Jesus was talking about when he commanded us to love enemies and people who persecute us. Strangely, most of the people you don’t want to compliment aren’t close to being enemies. So in those moments when others make a difference (there are many), smile and acknowledge it: privately and publicly. Be generous with you praise.
2. Recruit and promote people who are better than you. I had to wrestle this one down a number of years ago as we added staff and key volunteers. I had to hire people who were better than me at so many things. In fact, I’m only ‘best at’ a few things in our organization right now. My goal is to give more of those things away in the next few years. Another way I had to deal with this head on is when we started Connexus Church as a strategic partner of North Point Ministries. That means when I’m not teaching, Andy Stanley is. If you really want to wrestle down insecurity, just put the most gifted communicator around on the screen when you are not teaching. It will teach you quite quickly to celebrate what’s others are amazing at, and to be content with the role you also get to play.
3. Give thanks for who you are instead of lamenting over who you aren’t. At the root of much insecurity are two beliefs. First, that God somehow got it wrong when he was creating you. And second, that you need to compensate for this. That’s why insecure people are jealous or resentful of others and why we somehow feel we need to ‘right’ the situation by withholding praise, refusing to hire or recruit better people because it might make us look bad, and trying to control things so they work out in our favour. Why not start each day thanking God for how he created you? Why not say “God, you have given me everything I need to accomplish what you’ve asked me to accomplish and you’ve given others exactly what they need to accomplish their mission”? That shift will also help you relinquish your controlling tendencies.
4. Learn instead of comparing. Comparison is a losing game no matter how you try to play it. You end up feeling inferior (wrong) or superior (sinful) to others every time you compare. It corrodes your heart. So how to do you interact healthily with others? Learn from them. Plain and simple. You grow by being around other people, so grow. What do they do well? What could you do differently? What are the charts and numbers telling you? How can you develop from what you’re learning?
5. Get ridiculously honest with yourself (and God). I had a powerful moment in my journey a number of years ago.It was one of those moments where I wasn’t reading the scripture, the scripture was reading me. This passage in James stopped me dead in my tracks. It described to a ‘T’ what I was experiencing in that moment. Instead of blowing it off and ignoring it, I admitted (to my shame) that it described me. I prayed about it. The next day I went back to the same text, reading and praying through it again. I didn’t leave those four verses until the ugly things they described relinquished their grip on my heart. It took over a week. Every time I’ve read that text in the years that have passed, I stop and give thanks to God for what he dealt with inside me in that season. I’m so grateful. But you don’t get to that kind of breakthrough without ridiculous honesty about what’s really going on. So level with yourself. And with God. We are masters of self-deception. When you stop the mastery, change begins.
These five strategies have helped me. What’s helped you? What are you learning?