Unfaced Insecurity

Erik Cooper —  September 16, 2009 — 4 Comments

It’s taken me awhile to come to this conclusion, but I think the absolute, unequivocal, hands down most ugly and dangerous quality of any leader is unfaced insecurity.  I would gladly take incompetent over insecure.  Yeah, seriously.

Incompetence can be frustrating and paralyzing to an organization.  But incompetence can usually be clearly seen, even shored up with a level of humility and the right team around it.  And if it’s simply beyond overcoming, it’s an easy and objective exit.  Insecurity, on the other hand, can be stealth, appear kind, even empowering, but then slit your throat from behind (I don’t know about you, but I prefer my knives straight in the sternum).  Yeah, I’ll take incompetence every time.

I guarantee as you read this you’re picturing that boss, that politician, that obnoxious member of your home owners’ association, a co-worker, spiritual leader, or maybe even one of your own parents.  But where does your insecurity reside?

We’re all very good at hiding our faults, our failures, those dark hidden places we know are there but impulsively protect.  In fact, I would go as far as to say the ugly things we so easily see in others are usually somewhat of a reflection of ourselves, we just prefer to work it out in their life instead of our own (ouch, that one stung a little).  A tell-tale sign of insecurity is a passionate unwillingness to look within.

Insecurity is the result of protecting something we don’t want others to see.  God created within us an unwavering desire to be completely known and yet unconditionally loved.  Unfortunately, we live in a broken world of imperfect people incapable of perfectly providing what we so desperately need.  So we fake it.  We control our image, hide the junk, squash the reality because we’re afraid of being shamed or rejected for who we actually are.

And when we find ourselves in places of leadership (and really all of us are leading somebody whether we like it or not), our unaddressed insecurities instinctively force us to do almost anything to keep people from knowing our truth for fear of losing position, title, accolades…our fragile egos.  That’s a lethal combination.

So here’s my advice:  deal with your junk.  Face your insecurities and what they’re trying to hide.  Sniff it out.  Look inside.  Find a friend.  A counselor.  Be honest.  Confess.  Repent.  Live a vulnerable life.  Unfaced insecurities will destroy you and everyone that comes within striking distance.

4 responses to Unfaced Insecurity

  1. Huh, that is really deep. I guess I need to realize what I am really saying when I think I am the only person who is not insecure.

    • You are the only insecure person Mike…I wrote this just for you…

      Just kidding.

      One of the biggest dangers we all face is thinking we’re the only one who struggles with something. Never true. That’s what keeps us bottled up, from opening our lives to other people. And in the end, it keeps us from finding the hope and healing we need.


  3. You make a number of great points, Erik. One of them is that we are best at identifying others’ inadequacies in areas where we share the same deficiency or where we’ve faced it and are making progress to overcome it. The former situation reminds me of something about a speck in someone else’s eye and a log in my own.

    A great start to dealing with our own junk is to heed J.B. Phillips’ advice in his rendering of Romans 12:3 where he tells us to “have a sane opinion of ourselves”. This begins with personal introspection and a few close, safe friends whom we allow to speak into our lives.

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