Over the past several weeks, we have been considering the many reasons pastors can face their own personal insecurities and the different ways those feelings are often demonstrated. We’d all like to think that spiritual leaders have escaped the clutches of these emotional issues, but (like the rest of us), pastors are human. Like us, they encounter moments where they feel inadequate, inferior, and insecure.
I’ve read many of those lists that identify the most stressful occupations, and “pastor” seems to always make the top five. Surgeon is up there, along with air-traffic controller, and even funeral director! But my point is that pastoral ministry isn’t for the timid. Stress has a way of intensifying every feeling and really making ministry life extra challenging.
Today, we’ve reached the place of discovering answers to this challenge. If you’re a pastor and you’ve seen yourself in some of the conditions we’ve been describing in this series of blogs, I hope the paragraphs and blogs ahead can help you take a few new steps toward joy and strength. As we said in the very first statements of this series, your insecurities can be sabotaging your ministry. It’s time to put a stop to that!
THE LIES WE BELIEVE…
NOTE: It is possible to waffle between many of the symptoms we’ve discussed, and even experience several at the same time. The key is to identify how you cope with your insecurity, and what kind of lies you tell yourself about the reality you face.
Consider this: If the truth makes us free (John 8:32), then lies put us in bondage. The level of defeat and bondage you face as a leader may be directly linked to the volume of myths or lies you’ve embraced about your identity. Our problem is that while we know the truth…we believe the lie. Dr. Chris Thurman has written an insightful book entitled, The Lies We Believe. He provides a helpful process for us to understand.
STEPPING INTO THE TRUTH
1. DETERMINE – the trigger event, which fostered the lie/bondage.
Example: Your deacons failed to affirm the hard work you put in on last week’s successful outreach event. You feel resentful and insignificant.
As we have seen, there is typically a moment or event that “triggered” our feelings of insecurity. What happened? Who said what? It’s very important that we identify the situation or statement that started our journey down the road of these feelings.
Now, it’s important that we not think of blame here. Our goal isn’t to blame someone or some moment for our feelings. We are simply looking for what occurred so we can reframe how we deal with that situation. You can’t overcome your insecurities by blaming their existence on others. These are our feelings and as we understand them better, we can conquer their destructive capabilities.
2. DISCOVER – the lie you’ve believed about that situation.
Example: Perhaps you’ve embraced the lie: “I am only as good as what I do.” You’ve attached your value to your performance, and the approval of others.
So why did that moment bother me so much? When that pastor shared his story of blessing, why did my thoughts immediately focus on my own sense of failure?
If a disappointment or moment of “dropping the ball” leaves me thinking I’m worthless, I’ve likely made some faulty assumptions. If someone else’s moment is affecting how I feel about my own, I’ve probably misconnected some dots. Give some thought to the “what-I-have-to-believe-for-this-to-be-true” ideas that are driving my assumptions. Find the lie so we can discard it in favor of some truth.
3. DECIDE – what response is truthful, appropriate and realistic.
Example: My personal worth is tied to who I am not what I do. My congregation does appreciate me, but they are human like me and likely failed to notice my work due. After all, they’ve been very busy with their own lives.
Often, this step is simply insisting that the lie is just that—a lie! I may need to remind myself of that a few dozen times before I start believing it, but now I have truth on my side.
But don’t just talk yourself out of a lie. Talk yourself into truth. When we pick this up again, we’ll explore some of the truth you need to help you build a healthier sense of your own value.