7 Ways Pastors Can Fight Against Insecurity
This past week I was in a guided discussion with a few pastors in my area to talk about life, ministry, and the challenges that are there. Throughout the discussion a common theme was present, which was the battle that we all face with insecurities. Multiple times different pastors talked about the desire to be comfortable in their own skin. In pastoral ministry it is not always easy, in fact at times very difficult, to define success or to have security that you are doing a job well-done. Are we successful with a growing church or have we just compromised? Was the sermon helpful or did it just go over people’s heads? Was I faithful in the counseling situation or did I just make things worse? Questions like these can so easily be asked in pastoral ministry, but the security in finding the correct answers to these questions can be elusive, which just adds to the insecurities.
With that in mind, listed below are a handful of many things that you and I can be doing as we fight against insecurity.
- Be in community with the church. As God created mankind he created us to be in community, and in fact even before the fall occurred in Genesis 3, God told man that it was not good for him to be alone. However, our insecurities not only drive us to isolation, but also in isolation our insecurities can quickly build. Community in the church is not just something that is important for church members but for pastors as well. Pastors need to be living life on life with other church members just as much as the average member does. Pastor, fight against always retreating to your study; fight against the only time you are around members of your church is during some kind of public ministry event or counseling situation; fight against feeling that you do not need community. Fight against insecurities by letting others in the church into your life.
- Be in community with other pastors. Even though we all should be in community at our church, at times different dynamics or circumstances can make finding that community difficult. As you pastor your church, know that it is important to let other pastors speak into your life. As mentioned in the intro, this past week I was with a few different pastors in my area to come alongside and encourage each other. I left that meeting feeling much more encouraged about my insecurities knowing that other pastors are battling the same thing. If you are in a setting with other like-minded pastors in your area, let me encourage you to meet up with them. Get together with other pastors to pray, enjoy doing social events together, put into your monthly schedule times to grab coffee with other pastors to talk about ministry challenges. Do not neglect to see the value of being in community with other pastors; they understand the ups and downs of ministry. In addition, look for ways to take advantage of the Pillar Network to connect with other pastors. The great thing about the Pillar Network is that the other pastors you can connect with will be very like-mined with similar convictions. Fight against insecurities by intentionally finding community with other pastors.
- Be patient with your own sanctification. In the earliest years of church planting is when I battled against insecurities the most. Pretty quickly into the process it became apparent just how difficult church planting can be and how many areas in ministry in which I was incredibly weak. Before the end of the first year into our church plant, I realized that I knew much less about church planting and ministry than when I was sitting in my seminary class. However, over the years as I have been able to look back, I can see God growing me not just as a Christian but also as a pastor. While I have by no means “arrived” as a preacher, as a leader, as a under-shepherd, I can look back to where I was when we started, and I can see how God has grown me in these areas. As you battle insecurities trust that God is indeed growing you, and be patient with the process. Faithful is who he began a good work in you to complete it in the day of Christ Jesus.
- Be excited for your gifting. Perhaps one of the major reasons so many pastors (myself included) fall into a pit of insecurity is because we compare ourselves and our gifting to that of other pastors whom we admire. When we look at pastors whom we admire and start to compare who they are in relation to who we are, we can easily set ourselves up for failure. When we play the comparison game we begin to wish that we had the gifts that others have rather than being excited about the gifts that God has given us. As pastors we need to remember that God has given each of us different gifts and abilities; we should not only be eager to use them but also excited that God has given them to us. Just because you are not as gifted in a certain area of ministry does not necessarily mean that you can’t be a good and faithful pastor. Understand how God has gifted you, and to your fullest, use those gifts to care for those whom God has placed under your care. Battle insecurities by having a thankful heart in who God has made you.
- Be trusting in God’s good plan. The promise that we have and hold onto is that in the end your church, your ministry, is not yours. Jesus tells us that he will build his church, not us. While this doesn’t mean that we do not set our hearts to faithfully walk in the work set before us, it does mean that as we labor we trust that whatever plan God has for us and our church is what is best. Pastor, trust that God has a good plan for you even if that plan is not the plan you were hoping for. Be secure that God knows what he is doing with you and your ministry.
- Be confident in God’s Word. It was Spurgeon’s grandfather who said it best, “He may preach the gospel better than I can, but he cannot preach a better gospel”. Pastor, remember that our calling is to simply preach the crucified and resurrected Christ. The power we posses is not in our ability but in the message that we communicate. Once again, fight against comparison of yourself to your favorite pastor or celebrity preacher, and be confident that the same power that is present when they proclaim Christ is the same power that is present when you do as well. Be secure in the power of the Scriptures.
- Be thankful for Jesus Christ. The gospel that we preach week in and week out, is a gospel not just for church members, but for pastors as well. To ask and answer the question, “Are we inadequate for the pastoral ministry?”, yes, we are. If not for Jesus we would have every reason to feel insecure about each and every aspect of our lives, not just our ministry. But we teach each week about the good news that God loves inadequate, insecure people. All of our inadequacies and insecurities have been securely swallowed up on the cross of Christ. Dear pastor friend, rather than dwelling on who you are not in ministry, be thankful for who you are in Christ. As a follower of Jesus Christ you are forgiven, you are a son, you are a joint-heir, you are deeply loved, you are deeply forgiven, you are the apple of God’s eye, you are securely his for ALL eternity. Dear pastor, be thankful for Jesus and see your identity in him and not in your ministry.
While I could say more I will close by pointing you to a few books that I have found very helpful and encouraging to my soul and my fight against insecurity.
The Imperfect Pastor, by Zack Eswine. As I got together with the different pastors this week this book was what we centered our discussion around. Eswine is very helpful at giving us space to be an “average” pastor.
Under the Unpredictable Plant, by Eugene Peterson. I also found this book encouraging as Peterson does a great job of pastoring the pastor.
Newton on the Christian Life, by Tony Reinke. This was my favorite book that I read in 2015 and found it so helpful in setting my gaze on Christ. There also is a chapter in this book on “Battling Insecurities”.
The Pastor’s Justification, by Jared Wilson. I greatly appreciated Wilson sharing personal stories in ministry as he encourages his readers to rest in Christ.
Note to Self, by Joe Thorn. This is a great little devotional book on the discipline of preaching the gospel to ourselves.