insecurity and confidence

i launched a new initiative via my blog some time ago, something i was extremely proud of and excited about. within a few minutes, i received my first comment. it was from and old college buddy, who i’ve loosely stayed in contact with thanks to our digital world.

his comment was negative and dismissive, along the lines of, “this is a bad name, and i hope, for your sake, it’s not too late to change it.” his terse little comment, on the public space of my blog, rattled me and left me on edge all day long.

i’m not a newcomer to criticism – including both the well-meaning kind and the mean-spirited kind. in fact, there’s even a website or two that have called me out as a heretic! and i receive plenty of negative comments on my blog, and in real life. but there was something about a comment this strong from a friend that really threw me off balance and filled me with anxiety.

i told my patient and calm wife about the comment, making it clear that my friend was being an idiot. she responded, in that gentle spiritual director voice of hers, “you like to think of yourself as thick-skinned; but you’re really very sensitive, and you can have very thin skin sometimes.” she smiled.

my first response was defensiveness. i knew better than to verbalize this (i knew i’d “lose”); but i thought about how wrong she was, and what a complete tool the guy was being.

but, reality slowly sunk in. ok. i’ll admit it – even to myself: i am sometimes caught off guard by my insecurity. i come off as this over-the-top confident guy; and, most days, most minutes, i do experience a sense of drive and purpose that provides confidence rails to run on. but there’s this fragile guy in there also, cowering in a corner when Mr. Confidence has the stage.

this whole thing is such a tension for those of us in ministry (or any kind of leadership, i suppose). confidence misplaced is arrogance and a complete lack of dependence on god. we’ve all seen that kind of leader. nope, don’t want to be that guy.

but the ragingly insecure leader, whose every word and action is colored by his or her lack of confidence is equally undesirable. i’ve been around those leaders plenty, and i can’t trust them. i never know if what they’re saying is actually true.

so this must be one of those tensions to be nurtured, rather than problems to be solved. i need to bring my insecurity to god, as well as my confidence. i have to cultivate dependence and assurance.

and i have to notice, rather than react. if i can give myself a fraction of the grace god flows my way, maybe i can pay attention to my extremes and submit both of them for transformation and growth. at the end of the day, maybe my “thin-skinned” moments can remind me of my humanity. i am not the messiah. that role has already been taken.

17 thoughts on “insecurity and confidence”

  1. Thanks for being honest bro…as someone in ministry also (Youth Pastor), it seems like i am always in “people pleasing” mode. My “fear of man” constantly surfaces…and i think it shows that i am not putting my trust in my King.
    Thanks for writing this Marko.

  2. Wow. So powerful. I love it. I love how you break down the dichotomy between the overly confident-arrogant leader vs. ragingly insecure leader. This is such a hard dance because as leaders we don’t want to be a doormat nor adopt the Donald Trump approach to leadership either.

    But you nailed it. Leaders need to be reminded of our humanity, which normalizes everything. And cultivate dependence and assurance on God. This is just one of those tensions we have to manage. I think this is why I sometimes gravitate towards some of Paul’s writings– because Paul was human. One moment he is firing a ministry partner and a few chapters laters he is crying out to God realizing he doesn’t have a freaking clue on what to do and confessing his weaknesses.

    Anyways… really appreciate you speaking to this leadership-lack/overly confidence issue.

  3. I appreciate your openness here. I can relate to the tension and especially to the insight of your wife. Her comments remind me a lot of what my own wise wife gives me – and how I learn (and wince) at her wisdom. Thanks.

  4. Thanks for being open Marko. Similarly (I think), I struggle with the line between low self-esteem and humility. I desire to be both confident and humble, and believe me being a great leader depends on that proper balance happening at the same time, but it’s tough!

  5. Refreshing … Honest … I ,too, am learning the truth and balance of Zechariah 4:6 “…‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.’ “

  6. As I read this I got thinking … who is this guy? Want me to take him out for you? I’d be glad to …then I got thinking sometimes in the midst of our biggest hurts lies the truth. In the midst of all our insecurities …. God loves me anyways. God loves Marko. Gman … and even that jerk that gets on my nerves …and I’m thankful for forgiveness because I can be that jerk at times too and question my own leadership too!! Thanks for the honesty Marko!

  7. Just a question… did you talk with your friend about his comments or to this blog post? It would be interesting to hear what he says… ;)

    Love you, bro.

  8. I am a very sensitive guy and I know that the advantages of that are that I am very sensitive to those around me – compassion and empathy. So I definitely see those advantages. But the flip side is how sensitive I am to criticism and struggle with the whole people-pleasing thing. Wish I could have the sensitivity to other people but learn to have thicker skin, but I realize that it’s hard to have one without the other. The best thing for me is to try and rely on God through it all – easier said than done.

  9. It’s interesting to see that Jesus was even hurt by feeling abandoned by the disciples on the night he was betrayed… he took it personally (which was correct), and it HURT. Just a prelude to more hurt (physical and spiritual) that was to follow.

    All great leaders have enemies and nay-sayers… and it hurts. No way around it. So, the REAL question is “what do I do with this feeling?”… that where the leadership, maturity and spiritual depth come in. What did Jesus do? He approached those who hurt him, asked for their support, but went on to pray and just give it over to the Father. Good role model.

  10. Marko,
    I couldn’t agree more. My wife is constantly telling me to grow some thicker skin. I preached two weeks ago and told a story about a baseball game. My Pastor received an “anonymous” letter saying that Palm Sunday is not the time for a baseball story and that the non-ordained youth guy shouldn’t be preaching on such an important Sunday. I know I should consider the source and let it go, but I can’t, obviously. Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone.

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