Over the past several weeks, we have been looking at the different ways that insecurities show up in the lives of pastors and spiritual leaders. Yes, these wonderful friends battle the same human condition that the rest of us wrestle with, but often they are not “allowed” to demonstrate such struggles, at least not where anyone from their church might see. When your spiritual leader isn’t behaving like you expect, somehow you can feel a bit diminished in your own journey too.
Thus far, we’ve looked at Comparison, Compensation, Competition, Compulsion, Condemnation, and Control as the indicators that a pastor’s insecurities have risen to the surface. The final of our seven “C”s is usually a final stop on the road of all the others—when the pastor becomes Closed.
- CLOSED We close up, get defensive and deny our problems.
Ultimately, insecurity tempts us to shut ourselves off, to find a way where our inner hurts can no longer hurt us. Even though the pain continues, we choose to remove ourselves from any setting where those insecurities can be set off.
So, a pastor who becomes Closed now avoids the people that stir his insecurity. If those people are other pastors, then he’ll likely stop attending their meetings, creating excuses for his absence that usually put the blame on the group that threatens him. Statements like, “they’re not focused on the right things” or “they’re always comparing their church numbers” or even “those people are just pretentious, they think they’re better than everyone else” are just a few of the ones I’ve heard over the years. Somehow, the insecure pastor will find ways to withdraw from the places of fellowship he really needs to stay healthy.
Of course, things become worse if the people pastor hides from are members of his own congregation. When pastor becomes Closed, he can resist his own people, avoid them whenever possible, and emotionally withdraw even if his job demands that he physically remain available. You can just imagine the slippery slope ahead of such pastors.
But there is another dangerous element that threatens the pastor who has become Closed to the relationships he needs—he or she can become to attached to the unhealthy relationships available. Insecure pastors may search for good feelings among other unhealthy pastors. They can shop their emotional needs among members of the opposite sex who seem willing to build their tattered ego. Nearly every friend one finds when at the emotional bottom of deep insecurity is one that will keep you there.
Accountability for the pastor’s insecurities is a very difficult idea. Only when a pastor remains in healthy connection to healthy people can he process his insecurities in a healthy way. When he begins to close off because he’s overwhelmed with too much Competition or Comparison, or has worked far too many hours in his wrestling with Compulsion, or has run low on satisfactory places to aim his Condemnation, a person is usually unwilling to engage accountability or be honest with the accountabilities he once trusted.
What does the scripture say about this issue?
“For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And, you seek Me and find Me, when you search with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13)
As we will see in the coming weeks, the solution to our insecurities can only be found in a right understanding of God’s view when He looks our way. Only when we can begin seeing ourselves the way He sees us, can we keep insecurities in their proper place.
Next week, we’ll look at a few places where these expressions of insecurities often rise up and then we’ll start uncovering the path to healthier responses. Stay with us…