Leadership is not easy. The reality is that every person leads at some level. The question is not are you a leader as much as how well are you leading. Growing up in the church I saw one insecure leader after another. I never saw them as insecure leaders until I started to work at Redeemer 21 years ago. I began serving Mike Servello Sr. as his kids’ Pastor and currently serve his son Mike Servello Jr. as his Pastor of Families. Mike and his father are by far the most secure leaders I have ever met. It was only through their confident yet humble Christ centered leadership that came to see those other leader and even myself at times as an insecure leader.
One of the things that amazes me most about the church is the epidemic proportions in which insecurity runs through church leadership. One of the most valuable things I have learned in my nearly two decades working with Mike and his father is the importance of security in leadership, if you want to lead for the long haul your security better be found in Christ. Insecure leaders create drama, havoc and pain in the lives of those they lead. If you lead I as that you ask yourself the following questions, as I wrote these I found them convicting, and humbling.
How do you know that you are an insecure leader?
1. You surround yourself with people you can control. – Insecure leaders hinder their organization because they don’t look to hire or attract the best people for a job. They look to attract people who are not as good as they are. People with less experience, who can be controlled mentally or emotionally.
2. You misinterpret other people’s motives to fit your story – Insecure leaders have to be right. So to be right, they misinterpret what people do and why they do it to make themselves emerge the hero. When people stand up to you, you write them off as jealous or arrogant. You misrepresent their motives to fit your story so you can be right and they can be wrong.
3. You look at those who work for you like your employees, not your team – Insecure leaders don’t look for the best ideas. They can’t collaborate because they don’t value the other person’s opinions enough. They prefer to forgo work relationships that span decades because it’s easier to fill your team with disposable cogs rather than friends and teammates you love and trust. You find your identity in how many people work for you rather than how many people you work with.
4. You use the term disloyal for anyone who disagrees with you. – Insecure people don’t see people as people they see them either on my side or against me. Life is more complicated than that, and you are not the center of all things. To boil down every relationship as for me or against me is foolish and you will burn bridges and hurt people because you need to be right.
5. You manhandle conflict. – Insecure leaders either avoid conflict through passive aggressive means or you look at every situation as a potential conflict. You are either too soft and squishy or you are harsh and uncaring. Secure leaders handle conflict with truth and grace working together because relationships matter more than being right.
Jesus was the most emotionally secure person who ever lived. He understood who he was where He was from and where He was going. He had incredible clarity of mission and purpose. Our security as leaders has to come from whose we are. We are all looking for comfort. I love how the Heidelberg Catechism handles the question of where do we find our comfort in life and death. We find it in the fact that we are not our own but we belong body and soul to our faithful savior Jesus Christ who has fully paid for all our sins with his precious blood. Any time we place something in our lives at the center of lives, it will produce insecurity when it gets bumped up against. I say when because it will get bumped everything does.
When Christ fails to be our center we compensate. That act of us compensating to keep something central to our lives that was never intended to be central will always produce insecurity. The reason is we know deep down that at some point that thing we are living for will fail us, even if it’s a good thing, it will still fail us.
Security in the life of a leader comes from seeing and treasuring Christ in all things. As those who lead at home, church, school and in the marketplace we must find our security in whose we are.