Insecurity is a subject we’d rather avoid. It’s uncomfortable.
And yet we all grew up with it. Our society makes it difficult for us to be secure today. Social media and technology can be useful, but it can also breed comparison and insecurity. Our sense of belonging in our communities has become largely based on the “brand” we put up online—an image of ourselves that’s largely fake.
We outsource our value, asking others to affirm how special we are, how adequate we are, that we measure up to others. It’s an eternal online popularity contest. And if we’re honest with ourselves, most of the time, we feel like we don’t win. According to psychologists and psychiatrists, social media has increased two things for us: depression and insecurity.
We have to recover our ability to be real—to be human. While we won’t ever truly outgrow insecurity, we can master it and learn how to navigate it.
Insecurity is powerful: it influences our mindset, our perspective, and our behavior. It causes us to act in ways we wouldn’t otherwise. In Psalm 30:6-7 (GNT), we see the psalmist grapple with insecurity, starting off in a place of confidence and drifting into feeling unsure:
“I felt secure and said to myself, ‘I will never be defeated.’ You were good to me, Lord; you protected me like a mountain fortress. But then you hid yourself from me, and I was afraid.”
Insecurity is a form of self-sabotage. We see this in characters throughout the Scriptures, but one especially potent example is the contrast between King Saul and King David. Samuel anoints King Saul, and yet we read that, at his own inauguration, he’s found hiding among the baggage. He later disobeys God’s orders to wait for Samuel and sacrifices without the prophet there. Why? He disobeys because he wants to look good in front of the people. His security is unstable, and so he tries to recover it by ignoring God’s commands in 1 Samuel 15. The lesson we learn from his story is this: what good is it to have the title without the character?
If you are a carrier of the presence of God, He’ll cause great things to happen in your life; but it’s always about Him—never about us. King David, on the other hand, had faith in God. He knew where his identity was, even before he was anointed as the next king by Samuel. He gave God the glory, and trusted in Him when Saul tried to kill him for eight years!
It’s imperative that we identify and address the insecurity lurking inside of us, lest we inadvertently feed the beast. Here are 4 key things to identify that are indicators of unresolved insecurity:
Let’s be honest: when we compare ourselves to others, we’re never quite equal, are we? Either we’re prideful and see ourselves as better than them, or we’re insecure and see ourselves as inferior. Either way, it’s not a healthy exercise, because it diminishes the beauty of our differences and the unique gifts and abilities God has given to each of us.
While competition can be a healthy thing sometimes, self-centered outperformance of others is not healthy at all. When we become obsessed with building our own kingdom instead of building His, we’re in a dangerous headspace.
This is the tendency each of us have to be totally focused on our own needs and desires. It’s the voice that cries, “Pity me! Notice me! Validate me!” It’s latent in all of us, and it’s an indication that we’re not grounded and satisfied in our God-given identity—we’re insecure.
If someone else is winning, do you feel like you’re losing? If someone else has a great idea or initiative, do you feel a drive to take over and do it better? Many great leaders struggle with control; and at the heart of the need for control is a need for security.
The commonality in all four of these red flags is self-centeredness. The cure for insecurity is knowing who we are in Christ, not in our own ability! Here are five quick keys to overcoming insecurity that you can start implementing right now, today:
1. Know your identity
You will never outgrow your need to know that you are a son or a daughter of God. It’s the most important position you will ever have in this life. Check out Romans 8 if you need more Biblical insight into this amazing truth (and we all need that!).
2. Be comfortable with brokenness.
Until you know how amazing God is, you will never gain any sense of self-worth. Recognizing who He is brings us to a place of brokenness and dependence. This is good! It means we’re seeing Him as He truly is and ourselves as we truly are.
3. Become dependent on His truth.
How often are you truly desperate for and dependent on the Word of God? How often do you thrive off of His Spirit’s leading? Let’s get dependent on Him again! It will silence the voice of insecurity in our hearts.
4. Discover your purpose.
David didn’t want to wear King Saul’s armor. Why? He knew it didn’t fit him. Don’t try to wear someone else’s purpose or calling. Know your own, and be confident in it! After all, it is from God Himself.
5. Celebrate others.
This is one of the most powerful ways to keep jealousy at bay. How can you point out the strengths, achievements, and victories of others? Celebrate them! You’ll even find that this creates an atmosphere of mutual encouragement—win/win!
Here’s a closing thought: if you have to be loud about your security and identity, chances are that you’re masking some fears. Insecurity is loud, but confidence is quiet. Stay centered on the right things, and grounded in your God-given identity, and you’ll be able to lead with confidence and strength!