Insecure people are found in every workplace and every profession. It’s no different in ministry. I’ve met pastors of small churches and mega churches who struggle with insecurity. I’m one of those pastors. Many times I feel insecure. I feel like I’m not enough. I feel like I’ve made too many mistakes. I feel like there are other people better qualified for my job than me. I feel like many people don’t like me. I feel the pressure to try and make them like me. I feel like I have to hit a home run every week, but I’m too tired to pull it off. I feel like I don’t know enough about the Bible. I feel like my sins are too great. I feel like giving up. If you’re a pastor who sometimes has these insecure feelings, this post is meant for you. I hope you’ll be encouraged by the following six thoughts:
You’re Not Alone (in more ways than one) // Pastors frequently express the feeling that they are alone, and insecure feelings only serve to make the loneliness worse. But in truth, pastors, you’re not alone. First, you’re not alone because every other pastor in the world knows just how you feel. If you are feeling insecure and lonely today, call a fellow pastor and talk honestly about your struggles. I’m certain you’ll find someone like you who will be refreshed by your transparency and will refresh you in turn. Second, you’re not alone because you have a church. I’ve identified several people in my church who I can talk to when I feel insecure. I know that finding such people is risky; you have to be transparent with people to find the ones you can really trust, which means you’ll occasionally find people you can’t trust in the process. Sure I’ve shared my heart with parishioners only to have it used against me. But the lesson I’ve learned from this experience is that it’s worth it to keep going until trustworthy friends are found. The lesson Satan wants you to learn is that it’s better not to trust anyone; there’s a British word for such a lesson: Rubbish! The third reason you’re not alone is the best one of all. It’s obvious, especially to pastors, but it’s worth the reminder: God is with you! And if God is for you, who can be against you? Pastors, you are not alone!
You Are Better Than You Think // Most pastors I know are their own worst critics. I know, some of you are thinking, “Nope, old deacon Peabody is my worst critic.” Okay, so maybe you are your own second-worst critic. The point is that we are hard on ourselves. It’s easy to beat ourselves up when we didn’t realize a parishioner was in the hospital until they got home. It’s easy to criticize ourselves for forgetting people’s names. It’s easy to think we’ll never be as good at preaching as someone else. It’s easy to believe that too many people are against us and too few are for us. It’s easy to call ourselves, “stupid, failure, naive, or idiot”. It’s easy to get down on ourselves when we feel like a sermon bombed. But do you know why those things are easy? Because they’re bad. Have you noticed how easy bad things are? It’s easy to eat unhealthy foods, to lie, to be lazy, to hate, to have evil thoughts and to doubt. Good things are hard, but they are worth it. Pastors, we have to practice healthy inner-monologues in order to overcome our insecurities. We’ve got to stop berating and belittling ourselves. Turn off the negative audio track that keeps looping in your mind. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Start believing in yourself because the Lord believed in you enough to call you into ministry in the first place. You’re not perfect, and that’s okay. Pastors, you are not as bad as you think…in fact, you’re more able than you realize!
What YOU THINK Others Think Really Doesn’t Matter // Much of my insecurity comes from what I think other people think about me. When I think people like me, then I feel pretty good about myself. But when I feel like they don’t like, trust or support me I start feeling bad. I’m betting you’re the same way. How silly of us. First of all, can we truly know what others think of us? Nope. People can say they like us, but maybe they’re lying. They’re probably not, but what if? The point is you can’t get inside their brains and actually know what they think. Secondly, people’s opinions change…a lot! Why would we want to base our sense of self-worth on such shifting sand? Here’s what matters: God loves you, He called you and He speaks to you. It doesn’t matter if people like you because God always loves you. Don’t let the perceived opinions of others keep you from feeling content. Believe in God’s love and move forward! It doesn’t matter if people don’t agree with you, because He called you and speaks to you. Listen to God and do what He says. Don’t let the opinions of others keep you from obedience. Pastors, what others think about you really doesn’t matter.
Overcompensating Is a Waste of Energy // Have you ever known someone who tries to make up for their insecurity with bravado, brashness, humor, exercise, material things or too much charisma? Did you buy the front they were putting up or did you see through it? That’s what I thought, you saw through it. The same holds true for our own fronts. Quit compensating for your insecurities by overdoing it in other areas. People can see through it, so it’s a waste of time. Your overcompensating doesn’t make anyone like you or trust you more. Instead, they feel sorry for you because they see your overcompensation and how it’s just not working. They’re really thinking that if we’d just be more honest with ourselves, we’d be better off. And they’re right. Quit trying to be something you’re not. You’re not John Wayne. You’re not Martha Stewart. You’re not Jerry Seinfeld. You’re not Ryan Reynolds. You’re not Judge Judy. And you’re not Andy Stanley. You are you. So be you! God made you and He wants you to be the best you that you can be. It’s a waste of your potential and your time trying to be someone or something you’re not. Pastors, your insecurities will disappear as you become more of who God intends you to be, so quit overcompensating and just be yourself!
Let Others Shine // I’ve been around pastors who are so insecure that they are reluctant to let others preach on Sundays. This is really tragic. If you’re a pastor who doesn’t like it when others share the spotlight, remember this: preaching 52 weeks a year is foolish for pastors. It’s foolish because pastors burn out unless they have some weekends off. It’s foolish because the people in the congregation get bored hearing the same person every week. And it’s foolish because allowing others to be on stage showcases God’s creativity by letting the church see and hear people who are different. Pastors, we have nothing to fear by letting others shine. Prop others up and give them opportunities. They aren’t your competition; they are your team mates! Take some time off. Get some rest. Let others shine.
Thank God For Your Weaknesses // God specializes in using imperfect people. He makes up for our deficiencies with His grace and His power. It’s fair to say that, apart from Jesus, no other person has affected Christianity as much as the Apostle Paul. But even Paul wrestled with his weaknesses. He called himself “the greatest of sinners” and he acknowledged a nagging personal issue that just wouldn’t go away. Yet through it all he was grateful for his shortcomings. Our weaknesses are wonderful because they prove that only God can make great things happen through messy people like ourselves. Thank Him for your weakness.
Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
~2 Cor 12:8-10 (NLT)