“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
Fear and insecurity manifest together. Most of us struggle with feelings of insecurity. That being said, leaders must commit to laying a foundation of strong personal security.
Security provides the foundation for strong leadership. When we feel insecure, we drift from our mission whenever trouble arises. We must feel secure, or when people stop liking us, when funding drops, when morale dips or when others reject or criticize us, we will crumble. If we do not feel secure, fear will eventually cause us to sabotage our leadership.
When I was teaching high school physical education, I had a plan to implement reading as part of our curriculum. My first run at this was rocky. I had ordered a specific book that was designed for teenagers to grow and develop themselves. I decided to only implement this program with freshman students so as not to overwhelm myself during this trial process. When I told my former colleagues my plan, they kind of rolled their eyes and wished me luck; each of them with their own opinion of course. Each student had their own book and at the beginning of each class period they would come to my cart, find their book and start where they left off each day, reading for 15 minutes every day. We had block scheduling so our class periods were 90 minutes long which left plenty of time for activity. After taking attendance, I would sit down and read with them for the allotted time frame. Then for 5 minutes we would have a short discussion on some of the content.
While it sounds like this plan was perfectly executed and well-intentioned, I can not tell you how many obstacles I had to face during that semester. I had faced a lot of criticism not only from my students but from administrators, colleagues and parents. However, I stood my ground and continued with my plan. After about a month, the chirping stopped and I was finally able to do my job. Being a new teacher to the school, I was fearful of what people would think of me. I was worried that my colleagues would think I was trying to out-do their classes by making my plan seem more intelligent. When other classes would be preparing for the days activities by warming up and stretching and my students came to class, grabbed their book and sat down on the floor to read, I couldn’t help but question myself, “am I doing the right thing?” My insecurities eventually faded as I could see the changes in my students behavior and personality. My mission and purpose was being carried out the way I had envisioned. By the end of the semester I was confident that I did the right thing.
What I realized from this experience was that as I felt like the insecure person, it may have been that other’s insecurities caused me to question my own beliefs and purpose.
Insecure people share several common traits:
- They don’t provide security for others
- They take more than they give
- They continually limit their best people
- They limit or sabotage their organizations success
There are several common symptoms of insecurity:
- Comparison – we compare ourselves with others and keep score
- Compensation – we feel like a victim and must compensate for our losses
- Competition – we become self consumed and try to outdo others
- Compulsion – we feel driven to perform in order to gain others’ approval
- Condemnation – we judge others or ourselves, resulting in self pity or conceit
- Control – we feel we must take charge, protect our interests and manipulate
Effective leadership begins with an emotionally and spiritually healthy leader. Why must we focus on our personal security?
- Leadership must flow out of ‘being’ not merely ‘doing.’
- Strong character is necessary to sustain strong conduct.
- Insecure leaders cause their organizations to plateau.
- Personal security provides the infrastructure to support leaders in adversity.
- Insecure leaders will never empower and develop secure followers.
- Inward strength provides the only hope of finishing well.
When I think about leaders such as George Guzzardo and Orrin Woodward, I immediately can recognize their strength in being emotionally and spiritually healthy. They have established their identity in Christ, not in performance. They have allowed God to break them of self-sufficiency and self-promotion, thereby trusting only in God to lead them. And they have discovered and continually practice their God-given purpose in life.
If we want to develop security in our own lives, it is important to identify our basic human needs so that we know how to properly respond to these issues.
Human need #1: A sense of worth – if missing, we feel inferior.
Human need #2: A sense of belonging – if missing, we feel insecure.
Human need #3: A sense of purpose – if missing, we feel illegitimate.
Human need #4: A sense of competence – if missing, we feel inadequate.
In order to properly respond to these basic human needs, leaders should first settle the issues with God before they reach positions of influence. Our personal worth and security must come from our ‘secret history’ with God. We should never place our emotional health in the hands of another human being and we must release people from the expectation that they will meet our basic needs. We become healthy leaders only when we don’t expect others to meet the needs that only God can meet.
God equips each and every one of us to face our fears and develop strong personal security. In today’s world, we need people who are willing to develop themselves into leaders thereby reversing the cycle of decline and staying true to their convictions.
Leadershift, by Orrin Woodward and Oliver DeMille, was created for that purpose. George Guzzardo says, ” …wisdom is the real key to success…once people achieve a level of wisdom that leads to success, they crave more of it. This ties directly into leadership because wisdom is the cornerstone to influence.” Wisdom also gives us confidence in our beliefs, purpose and mission which directly effects our personal security. While our fallen nature will continue to cause fear and insecurity to surface, we need to remember that having faith and trusting in God to handle these fears will allow us to accomplish more things than we could ever imagine.
“Faith is not the belief that God will do what you want. It is the belief that God will do what is right.” Max Lucado
(Some content taken from John Maxwell Leadership Bible)