There are several interrelated and broad explanations as to why we operate so often in insecurity. First, our understanding of God’s love is deficient. Our striving to prove ourselves, in order to be validated by those around us, clearly communicates that we really do not believe our own teachings about grace.
Insecurity tells us that you are what you do, and if you do not do, then you are nothing. Yet in fact you are made worthy not by what you do but by the reality that you are a child of God. Therefore, you must not lead for acceptance, but from acceptance. James Lawrence expresses this in his fantastic book, Growing Leaders, and continues by saying, “Unless we know we are chosen, the children of a loving God, we will lead from an insecure place, constantly twisting the privilege of a leadership position to meet our own needs.”
The Bible says that you are his workmanship. In other words, you are a masterpiece. On one of those antique evaluation shows, people show up with junk and walk away with valuable treasures after an appraiser reveals its true value. Have you ever seen the painting Dora Maar au Chat? I have no real understanding of art, but in my opinion it is a creepy image comparable to some of the projects done by school children. However, Dora Maar au Chat is worth at least $102 million! The reason? Pablo Picasso painted it. Because of the artist, it is almost priceless. You have immense worth because of who painted you. His signature is scribed onto you. You may feel low when you consider intelligence, looks, popularity, or ability—but you are “worth more than gold.”
Second, we operate in insecurity because we pursue personal agendas rather than follow Jesus. Without a focus on Jesus, our motives for leadership become skewed by our own needs. Our abilities promote us to places where our character cannot keep us. We become victims of our own giftedness. We have clever strategy sessions to formulate creative vision plans without prayer; yet Jesus said, “Apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Gerald Harrison contends, “Ministry is what we leave in our tracks as we concentrate on following Jesus.” We should fix our eyes on the Father. Leaders must ask, “What is motivating me to do, or not do, the ministries that I am performing?” The motivation question is the most important self-assessment to consider.
Third, we neglect to cultivate an intimate relationship with God. The quantity of ministry confidence we possess is directly related to the depth of our spiritual walk. It is a “first love” issue. “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance… yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love” (Revelation 2:2, 4). We are insecure because we know things are not well in our spiritual lives. Some leaders rarely practice spiritual disciplines. We do not pray as we should. The Scriptures have become “for reference only.” Solitude is not practiced. Fasting has become obsolete. Repentance seems passé. We are so busy trying to change others that we forget to continually change ourselves.
In contrast, as George Barna writes in Revolution, “Revolutionaries zealously pursue an intimate relationship with God, which Jesus promised we could have through Him. They recognize that there is a huge price to pay in this life-time… but an eternal pay-off as well.”
Oswald Chambers adds to this truth when he writes, “Beware of anything that competes with loyalty to Jesus Christ, the greatest competitor of devotion to Jesus is service for him… The one aim of the call of God is the satisfaction of God, not a call to do something for him.” Knowing and doing His will depends on the substance of our relationship with Him. If our “first love” is not healthy, then nothing else in our lives will be completely healthy, either.
Next, we lack clear purpose and mission. Mother Teresa for example, had a clear mission. She once said, “I am not [made] for meetings and conventions. Speaking in public and I don’t agree.” She refused to be distracted by the lure of the crowd. Without a clear purpose in life, we are left to work day by day, giving ourselves over to the tyranny of the urgent rather than the important. We bounce from project to project and never get to do that which we were called to do. We try to lay track in front of a moving train. Consequently, we never determine our particular purpose in the Mission. We never figure out our “wiring,” our “sweet spot,” or our “niche.” We become unsure of what we have been called to achieve. We are pushed to a place of doubt. Chris Gardner, the man behind the story featured in the film The Pursuit of Happyness, understood the importance of realizing purpose. He once said, “Find something you love to do so much, you can’t wait for the sun to rise to do it all over again.”
Lastly, we do not make an effort to resolve our issues. Skeletons remain in the closet. Bad habits go unchallenged. Temptations and tendencies get ignored. The love of money, lust, or power strangles our potential. It is impossible for those held captive to their issues to feel secure. Every prisoner feels the torment of being under the control of something. Leadership confidence has little to do with theological prowess, management competencies, personality, or skillset. Instead, such security comes from knowing God’s love, having clarity of purpose, resolving our issues, and developing closeness with Christ.
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