A Pastor’s Battle with Insecurity – Part 7

After considering what insecurity looks like in the life of a pastor for several weeks, we’ve been able to discuss five dominant “conditions” that reveal such insecurity—Comparison, Compensation, Competition, Compulsion, and Condemnation. These attitudes or expressions demonstrate that our pastors are people too.

Next up to consider is when insecurity looks like Control.

  1. CONTROL In order to validate your own worth, you feel as though you must take charge, protect your interests and monopolize situations.

Now Control is a little tricky to diagnose. Some pastors tend to be “micro-managers.” They have trouble trusting others to do a job well and get a little too close to the details that someone else should be caring for. Some pastors are used to having the responsibilities they’ve tried to hand off fall back into their laps again, so they tend to stay tightly engaged in what everyone is doing. For many, this is an act of self-preservation as they know they will be held responsible if the job(s) isn’t done well.

Control, in this context, isn’t the same thing as micro-managing. To be sure, failing to trust others with the responsibilities you have given them will add unnecessary stress to your life, but the kind of Control that reveals insecurity looks a bit more intense.

You see, some pastors are reluctant to let others have responsibility or opportunity because they feel such efforts will make their own presence unnecessary. Sometimes these pastors can act as though they are the only one who knows what to do, the only one capable or spiritual enough to do a job right. These leaders can also become controlling in their handling of people. They can be too directive in other people’s choices, conveying that strict obedience to their counsel is absolutely necessary for anyone “on the team.” In the extreme, this kind of Control can manifest itself in an almost cult-like environment, where the leader dominates others and usually ends up with the weak-willed as his primary followers.

Now, most pastors will immediately reject such an extreme (and they should), but when we are afraid to let others flourish because we feel threatened by their gifts, our insecurities are showing. When we resent or try to take credit for the successes of others on our leadership team, Control may be in play. When we must do it my way because “I am the pastor!” Well, you get the picture.

Danger: You think win/lose, not win/win. Because you’re having to chart your own course, you risk integrity, protect personal “turf” and often slip into the… “Scarcity paradigm.”

Example: Sarah (Genesis 16:1-6)

  1. You feel God is inattentive, absent or even against you.
  2. Your circumstances determine your understanding of God’s character.
  3. Life seems “scarce” rather than “abundant.”
  4. You become self-seeking and manipulative of others.
  5. Feeling intimidated, you deal with others through intimidation.
  6. You resent the success of others. You may turn on them in anger.
  7. You feel if someone succeeds, then someone else must lose.
  8. You frequently blame others for your dilemma.
  9. You eventually suffer from the “martyr” syndrome.

This form of insecurity may be the most difficult to diagnose, largely because we find it difficult to admit. Many of us want to say that our “controlling” ways are just a pursuit of excellence. We want things to be done well. But if we view everyone else’s performance as a reflection of our abilities as leaders, chances are we’ve tied a chunk of our self-worth to their efforts. And that’s the way this gets rolling. We want things to be done well turns into we need things to be done well and we’re headed down a road that can lead to Control.

The real trap starts when I begin seeing the quality of our ministry efforts as a reflection of myself. So to make sure nothing reflects poorly on me, I try to Control everything that occurs. Ultimately, I don’t allow others to give their best but limit them to my boundaries. When Control is full blown, others feel used and manipulated. And they must be emotionally unhealthy to allow such Control to continue for long.

In a couple of weeks, we’ll begin discussing how to conquer these tendencies, but for now it might be wise to search out these things and examine your ministry efforts for any sign that you are demonstrating your insecurity with a tendency to Control things at your church.

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