the shape of leadership

How to Deal With Insecurity in Ministry

Five important habits

Stephen Blandino on February 20, 2024


Every leader has experienced feelings of insecurity. Sometimes these feelings emerge when facing a monumental task we feel ill equipped to handle. Other times imposter syndrome arises, making us look better on the outside than we feel on the inside. Still, other times insecurity surfaces when we’re with other leaders who outshine us.

One such leader was King Saul.

First Samuel 18:6–9 says, “When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing,with joyful songs and with timbrelsand lyres.As they danced, they sang: ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tensof thousands.’Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly. ‘They have credited David with tens of thousands,’ he thought, ‘but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?’And from that time on Saul kept a closeeye on David.”

Why would Saul keep a “close eye” on David? Because Saul was jealous of him. Simply put, Saul’s insecurities had gotten the best of him. For the rest of his kingship, Saul’s insecurity would cast a shadow over his life and undermine his leadership.

Saul’s insecurity was so deep he tried on multiple occasions to kill David. Insecurity truly is destructive, especially when it’s in the heart of a leader.

So, if we all deal with insecurities, how do we keep them from destroying us? We must recognize the difference between feeling insecure and acting on our insecurities. Just because we feel insecure doesn’t mean insecurity should be given license to dictate our actions.

When we act on insecurity, it produces unhealthy attitudes and behaviors that undermine us and the people we lead. Instead of acting on our insecurities, we need to counter them with five important habits.

So, if we all deal with insecurities, how do we keep them from destroying us? We must recognize the difference between feeling insecure and acting on our insecurities.

Practice Gratitude Daily

So much insecurity stems from constantly comparing ourselves to others. That’s what Saul did. While he killed thousands, David killed tens of thousands. Suddenly, Saul’s victory looked deficient next to David’s triumph.

This is why gratitude is so important. It helps us counter the compulsion toward comparison. Gratitude makes us more secure because it cultivates an inner contentment that rejoices in the goodness God has graciously extended to us. If we can’t be grateful for what we do have, our insecurities will make us lust for what we don’t.


Celebrate Others Generously

Saul was clearly jealous of David. As a result, Saul couldn’t celebrate the fact David’s victory was larger than his own. Interestingly, the very next day an evil spirit came upon Saul, and twice he tried to spear David (1 Samuel 18:10-11). Rather than celebrating David generously, Saul repeatedly attempted to kill him.

Celebration tames our insecurities by proactively acknowledging and affirming the success of others. By giving a supporting voice to others’ victories, we put insecurities in their place and keep seeds of jealousy from growing roots in our heart.


Welcome Feedback Regularly

When insecurity gets the best of us, it robs our ability to learn from others. Simply put, insecurity is more concerned about image management than it is about learning from others and growing to our full potential.

To counter this tendency, we need to actively seek feedback — not information to tell us how great we are, but feedback to reveal our growth gaps so we can make improvements.

Insecure leaders feel threatened by honest feedback, but when countering insecurities we create a safe space for others to speak into our leadership gaps. Secure leaders view feedback as a gift not an attack.


Ask Questions Deliberately

Insecure leaders feel a need to be know-it-alls. They struggle to admit not having the answer to avoid appearing incompetent. That’s why we must counter this behavior by deliberately asking questions when we don’t know the answer. Even if it means asking people who are in a lower position on the organizational chart.

Asking questions demonstrates a posture of humility, and it turns you into a listener and learner. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him.” You can’t learn if one doesn’t ask questions.


Empower Leaders Freely

Insecure leaders have a hard time giving away power. Their scarcity mindset causes them to believe if they give away power, they’ll have less power. The opposite is true. The more power given away; the more power is entrusted to you.

To counter your feelings of insecurity, empower others with power. Turn over responsibility and opportunity to team members and other leaders. Your greatest legacy is found in the people you develop, and others can’t be developed if there not entrusted with power.

Nothing inside you will naturally counter your insecurities with these five habits. Each one requires a deliberate decision and a daily discipline. But the more you practice these habits, the more secure you’ll become.

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