In my first pastorate, I had a woman in the congregation with a constant sourpuss outlook on life and was continually critical of me. After I got to know her, I discovered that she had an alcoholic father who abused her in childhood. It was not a stretch for me to see that her problem with my authority had to do with the sheer fact that I was her pastor, her leader, and she had major problems with authority figures.
What do you do with insecure people? It helps to understand the pathology behind such persons, because a church leader cannot always take things personally since the issues are not always of a personal nature. The person who is raised in such a way that they are insecure almost always misinterprets life. The reason they do this is that they evaluate almost everything and everybody from the perspective of their past. Thus, nothing, and I mean literally nothing, can bring security to such a person from the outside. The cure must come from within through the work of the Holy Spirit impressing the redemptive events of Jesus to the individual, thus creating an assurance of pardon and security that is supernatural.
Insecurity will cause a person to have an exaggerated need for evidence of security. Yet those needs cannot be met by anyone or anything in that they are not a part of reality and fact, but tend to be irrational. This makes decision-making for the insecure person difficult if not impossible. When such needs are not met in life, the insecure person is hurt again (unconsciously reminding them of their past hurts) and they, therefore, lash out against those people that they feel could and even should meet their needs for security and love.
Insecurity causes a person to set up “tests” to prove they are loved and accepted by others. People intuitively sense these “tests” and their true character, and, understandably, retreat from the insecure person. This, then, is misinterpreted by the insecure person as rejection, and the problem is deepened. Insecurity inevitably causes a person to almost obsessively sift through the past and examine the present looking for evidence of security or insecurity. Events, words, body language, and relationships are evaluated over and over. The old battles are continually being fought with a constant stream of misinterpretation.
Insecurity, then, only breeds more insecurity and the insecure person either cannot or will not take initiative to settle anything. Such a person, for sure, cannot reconcile the past without help. In the place of genuine assistance, some insecure people try to do everything perfectly to compensate for their feelings of inadequacy. On the other hand, there are those who simply give up and live a passive existence. They feel so unloved and rejected that they stop trying, so as to not feel the sting of inadequacy and frustration anymore.
Which brings me back to my very insecure parishioner – she was highly critical because everyone failed her “tests” and they were unceremoniously labeled as uncaring. She really believed that others could change her life and her world if they just cared enough to do so. So, this troubled woman lived with all kinds of “if only’s.” If only they would call me every day…. If only they would come and visit more often…. If only they would listen better…. If only they would pay more attention to me…. The problem is that even if others would do such things, the “test” would only become bigger and bigger until it is unbearable for the person trying to help. The helper then drops-out of the insecure person’s life all together, only reinforcing the feelings of the insecure person.
Do you have insecure people in your church? Are you an insecure person? The problem of insecurity will not be resolved apart from going back and reconciling the past (see a previous post on this). Real change comes from the inside-out. The truth is that all of us as fallen individuals have some degree of insecurity inside of us. It can only be dealt with by making daily affirmations of truth based in Holy Scripture given by God, so that our security lies solely in being people created in the image of God and forgiven through the cross of Jesus Christ. Anything less than this does not bring assurance, comfort, and genuine spiritual healing. By His wounds we are healed. As we approach the season of Lent and anticipate Holy Week, there is no better time than in these next weeks to take a healthy introspective look upon our lives and find our ultimate value in Christ alone. “It is finished” was his cry. Let it be ours as well.