When I was five years old, my right leg was badly damaged in a car accident. I tried to cross the road and ran straight in front of the car. It hit me and dragged me under the wheels for about 20 metres.
I ended up having two skin grafts and reconstructive surgeries on my foot, which left it looking like it’s been quite badly burned.
I was never self-conscious about my foot until I noticed girls!
I can clearly remember swimming parties in Grade 6 and 7. I would keep my shoes on until the very last moment, and then quickly slip them off and jump in the pool – all in one slick, well-practised move!
I was so insecure about my foot. I didn’t want anyone to see it.
I think there’s a pandemic in Christian leadership.
And it’s the thing we hardly ever talk about.
Insecurity. We don’t want anyone to see our skin grafts.
I’m writing about it because I see it in my life and I see it in the lives of leaders all around me. If we can acknowledge it, we can begin to move on from it and our leadership will be better.
I think much of our insecurity comes from comparison. Mark Twain was right when he said that comparison is the death of joy. It is indeed the death of joy and contentment.
Not only is comparison the death of contentment, but it’s the birth of either pride or insecurity.
When we compare and we measure up favourably, pride rears its ugly head. “We’re doing well. We’re better (or bigger) than them.”
On the other hand, when we compare and we don’t measure up favourably, insecurity immediately comes knocking.
Comparison has a voracious appetite. Even if you measure up well against in one context, there will always be something better and bigger than what you lead.
Comparison can never be satisfied.
Comparison leaves us feeling inadequate. Not enough.
And people who don’t feel enough, end up insecure. Insecurity in leaders is a dangerous thing.
I find that in my own life and leadership it affects me in two ways.
It either shrinks me or it over-inflates me.
I shrink back from what God might want to do through me because I wonder if I’m up for it.
Or I over-inflate my sense of self, to compensate for my insecurity. I pretend I’m bigger than I really am.
Perhaps you do too?
Both are devastating. One holds us back, and the other makes us look foolish. People can see through that nonsense. Everyone can see when the emperor has no clothes.
So, what to do? How do we reject comparison and lead out of a place of security?
I’d like to offer three words that I’ve found helpful.
Identity: We can remind ourselves and affirm the truth around our identity daily: “I’m called. I’m loved deeply by the God who formed me, saved me and called me. I’m enough just as I am because I’m His.”
Clarity: Instead of copying and comparing, we can rather do the hard work of seeking God for clarity around what He’s called us to do uniquely, in our context.
Quality: We can commit ourselves to improving the quality of everything we do. Improve the quality of everything our teams do. Stretch for excellence in everything. Intentionally grow ourselves and our skills. Take definitive action to become highly skilled and deeply formed.
A final thought…..
Is social media actually improving your life? Imagine that time rather spent affirming your identity, seeking clarity, and improving quality.
It could change your life, save your leadership, and free you from the insecurity that comes from comparison.