What kind of leader are you?

Do you know an insecure leader?

Some great leaders I know...

Some great leaders I serve with…

I’m not sure what it is about ministry that attracts a certain type of leader, but it does. You’ve seen it and you’ve experienced it. There is definitely a consistent DNA pattern that runs through many leaders in the church. It’s insecurity. And it’s glaring problem in church leadership today. This holds true in Youth Ministry as well as the Senior Pastorate. Maybe it’s that Jesus gives insecure people the validation they are looking for, but whatever it is, insecurity is one of the most common personality traits I see in ministers. And it’s horrible to see and experience.

If you’ve ever been part of a congregation with an insecure leader you know what I’m talking about.

Here are some sure signs of an insecure leader:

  1. The insecure leader has very few volunteers; “no one else can do it right.” He says he is open to people volunteering, but he has nearly impossible standards for volunteering. The insecure leader loves being important, (feeling irreplaceable), and does not like to share the limelight. In contrast, it is the secure leader’s joy to train up and release others to do ministry.
  2. The insecure leader only recruits “yes men” to his board or inner circle. One of a leader’s greatest difficulties is the ability to solicit accurate assessment and garner honest feedback. The insecure leader sees the contrary voice as opposition, and will not stand for it. Conversely, the secure leader surrounds himself with wise men and women whose different voices bring balance to his blind spots. In sports, a head coach wants his assistant coaches to point out the team’s vulnerabilities. This makes the team stronger as the team can then address those weaknesses instead of foolishly overlooking them.
  3. An insecure leader cares too much about what people are saying & thinking. Constantly asking people “What do you think?” the insecure leader determines direction by getting it from others. In another expression, the insecure leader uses questioning to attempt to maintain control over the court of public opinion, “What have you heard?”  The secure leader is confident in the direction he is headed and does not lead by public opinion polls. He does not feel threatened when others do not agree. He cares about the thoughts of others, but not overly so.
  4. An insecure leader hates conflict while a secure leader almost enjoys it.  The insecure leader sees conflict as a threat to his leadership while a secure leader sees conflict as an opportunity to shape the contrary opinion or action, and bring the individual on board. For that to happen there must be discussion, the issue must surface, at times to the point of conflict for there to be resolution and incorrect thinking shaped or brought into alignment.

In my experience as a youth pastor, I have worked for both extremes:  the insecure pastor, and the very secure pastor.  It’s been said that “you learn more from a bad boss than a good one.”  And while I’m not sure that’s completely true, I certainly learned quite a bit about the type of leader I desire to be from experiencing both.  I have not always been a secure leader. But I’ve seen up close the tyranny of the insecure leader. So when conflict arises in my life, and I want to go all schoolyard on people, I pause and remind myself about the type of leader I wish to be and act accordingly, knowing that eventually my feelings will get in line.

So the question isn’t so much “What kind of leader do you work for?” It’s “What kind of leader do you want to be?” I certainly know which one I’d rather follow.


“Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity.”  Colin Powell

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