How to be a Secure Leader

This is a great post from Jeff Iorg, the president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. He gave me permission to re-post.

July 27, 2009 – Finding Security for Leadership

An important character quality for any leader who wants to make a significant impact and leave a positive legacy is security. Yet, security is seldom listed in job profiles as a desired quality. Secure leaders know who they are and what God has made them to do. They understand their strengths and weaknesses and are comfortable with both. Secure leaders fell less pressure to perform, less pressure to please people, and less pressure to prove their worth by their accomplishments than insecure leaders do. Secure leaders have an ease about them that engenders confidence among their followers. And, secure leaders attract strong leaders to work with them because they are not afraid to share the work and the rewards.

Many leaders are high achievers or over achievers. Often overachievement is a mask for deep insecurity. Insecurity, for many of us, is rooted in the psychological and emotional scars incurred during childhood. Many Christian leaders, including many high performance leaders, come from broken or dysfunctional families. Much could be written about the causes of insecurity, including these and others. But for our purposes, analyzing the causes is not essential. Let’s agree with the obvious! Insecurity affects most of us. Leaders, not matter how gifted, are not exempt.

The search for security is a primal human urge. That truth is self-evident. People, including leaders, want to and need to feel secure. We often go to great lengths in our search for security. The problem is we frequently pursue wrong sources for security. We look for security in accomplishment and relationships, often with catastrophic results.

A good example of this was the woman Jesus met at the well (John 4). She asked Jesus a question about religious achievement, “Where should we worship?” Jesus replied with a question about the whereabouts of her husband. This prompted her admission of multiple marriages and adultery. Her pattern of searching for security in relationships was unveiled.

Jesus did not answer her question about religious accomplishment (proper worship) or confront her misplaced search for security in relationships (serial marriages). Instead, he addressed her deepest needs. He promised he would come into her life and quench her deepest thirsts. He portrayed himself as a “spring of living water.” He challenged her to stop drawing from wrong wells and come to the true source of inner satisfaction.

Most people, including many leaders, look for security in accomplishments or relationships. Christian leaders make this more palatable by searching for security in religious accomplishments or religious relationships. Neither ultimately satisfies. A better source for security is available to every Christian leader.

First, however, it is important to diagnose the problem by revealing the symptoms of insecurity as they express themselves in leaders. Starting with a negative analysis may be discouraging. But before you can solve the problem, you must diagnose it. Many leaders have unhealthy behavior they would like to stop. They have patterns or habits that undermine their success. Yet, some inner drive repeatedly motivates the same destructive actions. That powerful inner drive is your search for security expressing itself in unhealthy ways. Over the next two weeks, we will look at four ways insecurity expresses itself through leaders in leadership situations.

If you have any of these symptoms, you will feel some dis-ease as you read! But that unsettledness can motivate significant change as you become more secure. Leading out of security, rather than insecurity, is essential to leaving a positive leadership legacy.

Questions or comments? Please email those to jeffiorg@ggbts.edu

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.