Thus far, we have considered two of the ways that insecurity is revealed in the life of a pastor. Frankly, the evidence of insecurity in a pastor’s life isn’t easy for a congregation to process. We need our pastor to somehow have eclipsed the struggles we deal with. After all, how can he lead us to overcome our issues, if he has issues too?
If you understand the feelings of those last two statements, you’re ready to grasp some of why the life of a pastor can be so unrealistic. Your pastor is likely a fantastic, caring, human being, but if you’re expecting him to be unaffected by his own humanness, you’re perpetuating a fantasy that he and no one else can live up to. If you’re a pastor and you’re unable to acknowledge your own areas of weakness, you’re headed down a road that can someday destroy you.
Pastors are people too. As such, we carry our own feelings of inadequacy, fear, and needs for encouragement too. It’s how we deal with those feelings that will say much about our health and longevity in ministry. If you are willing to acknowledge and find healthy approaches to these emotional challenges, a strong future can be ahead.
Let’s consider another way that insecurities can show up in our lives.
- COMPETITION You drift into self-centered patterns, consumed by outdoing others in receiving attention and reward.
Many pastors express insecurity with inappropriate feelings of competition. You see, there’s really not a lot of healthy uses of competition in a pastor’s life. He’s not supposed to be trying to “beat” the church down the street or compete with the successes of other ministries. Like a baseball player who hurts the team to pad his own statistics, pastors who try to “win” in ministry life by outdoing their fellow pastors are demonstrating selfish behavior and hurting the overall team effort.
If you’ve ever sat in a minister’s meeting and heard another pastor’s celebration of a great Sunday, you’ve confronted a moment where insecurity can show up through competition. Did you politely applaud but secretly wonder why you don’t have Sundays like that? Did you find yourself internally explaining the difference between your ministries or nearly verbalize what you think that guy compromised to get his result? Did you make a mental list of the advantages he has that most of the rest of you don’t, or did you wonder why no one asked to hear your great story? Or have you ever felt anything other than sadness when you hear of another pastor’s failure?
If any of those responses feel familiar, competition is likely rearing its ugly head. Truth is, another church’s great success has absolutely nothing to do with your efforts, does it? That other congregation’s win is really a win for the entire team, isn’t it? And as such, we ought to be happy too, right? If these truths are more often your second thoughts rather than your first responses, you may be letting your insecurities drive your attitude and damage your spirit.
Competition doesn’t just affect our thoughts; it can change our behaviors too. When we try to win, we can take shortcuts, change the rules we play by, or be that compromiser ourselves. Here’s the thing: When our self-worth is attached to results, we can end up doing almost anything to get those results. Or we can fail to achieve what that self-worth needs and resort to criticizing those who seem to achieve what eludes us.
Danger: You become obsessed with building your own kingdom, and eventually that “end will justify the means.” You’ll do anything to win.
Example: Luke 15 (The “older” Prodigal Son)
a. You tend to keep score on life.
b. You tend to be ungrateful.
c. You tend to be unteachable.
d. You tend to get jealous for recognition.
e. You tend to be prideful.
f. You tend to be critical and judgmental.
g. You tend to be loveless and generally unhappy.
h. You tend to live a self-centered life.
What does the scripture say about this issue?
“But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one will bear his own load.” (Galatians 6:4-5)
Pastor, if you see evidence of unhealthy competition sneaking into your thoughts and behaviors, you’re looking for self-worth in all the wrong places. Spend some time revisiting the basis of God’s love for you. Remember that your performance has never been the foundation of that love, and it isn’t why He loves you now. Remember that your calling is really His calling and He will empower you by His Spirit to do the work He has called you to do. Remember that His plan for your life is a unique demonstration of His unlimited creativity. You’re not made to do everything that someone else will do.
So someone else’s success (or failure) really doesn’t have anything to say about you, Pastor. So clap heartily with the rejoicing of others. Your day to invite that guy to your celebration may be just ahead.