Feelings of insecurity go against one of our basic needs as people. Often, the need to feel security is illusive. How do we identify insecurity? Insecurity tends to rear its ugly head when there is criticism and rejection by others. Insecurity comes when we meet someone important and feel that we must impress them. We feel insecure when we fail an assignment or fail to reach a goal. Insecurity results when others are successful, even achieving notoriety and reward for their success. We feel insecure when those we respect fail to recognize our own success and accomplishments. Personal loss such as when people and resources we have relied on are taken away produces insecurity. We may also feel insecure when reflecting on past injustices or when we feel victimized by others.
Insecurity causes us to compare ourselves by others and rate our achievements against theirs. The danger is we ignore the unique roles we play on a team. For example, in the parable of the vineyard, the vineyard workers ignored God’s grace toward themselves. Instead they were preoccupied with the status of others. They grumbled and complained about perceived inequities. They believed they were more worthy of more blessings than others. Also, they assumed they deserved more, because their focus was on their work and not God’s. In the end they forgot that all their rewards and blessings are due to God’s grace (Matt. 20).
Further, a sign of insecurity is when we feel like a victim and attempt to compensate for our losses or inferiority. The danger is we fail to trust God’s control by taking matters into our own hands and often forcing issues. We overcompensate where we feel weak. Jacob is a good illustration in Genesis 27 and 32. He spent his time scheming about how to get ahead and gain recognition. His dependence was on his own personal politics to advance himself. Jacob failed to recognize God’s blessings. He was irrationally fighting battles to get more of what he thought he deserved. He even stooped to dishonesty and deception to get the results he wanted. The psalmist advises, “Do not fret… do not be anxious … trust in the Lord and do well. Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him and He will do it” (Psa. 37:1-8).
Another sign of insecurity is seen when we drift into self centered patterns and become consumed by outdoing others through attention and reward. The danger is we become obsessed with building our own kingdom and eventually believe that the “end will justify the means.” Then, we will do anything to have our own way. For example, in Luke 15 the older son had a tendency to keep score on life. He was ungrateful and unteachable, jealous for recognition and filled with pride. He was critical and judgmental, loveless and self-centered. Paul admonishes us to “let each one examine his own work, and then he will give reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one will bear his own load” (Gal. 6:4-5).
Insecurity can also be detected when we perform in order to gain approval of others. The danger is the flesh takes control, and we risk burnout due to impure motives and unrealistic expectations. Martha is a good illustration (Lk. 10). She was distracted from the “big picture” priorities and consumed by her own performance. Martha projected her self worth onto her sister by overestimating her own importance. As a result, she experienced self pity and sought recognition for her hard work. In the end she grew weary because of her attempts to do too much for the wrong reasons. The Lord offers this remedy: “Come unto Me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Mat 11:28-30).
Still further, insecurity can be seen by being too judgmental toward ourselves and others, which results in self pity or conceit. The danger is the distortion of reality and the temptations to withdraw from responsibility. Elijah was shortsighted in the perception of his circumstances. He felt self pity and loneliness, as though he was the only one who had to endure hardship. He complained about his unjust circumstances and felt overwhelmed. Elijah feared his own demise and insignificance. He blamed himself and others for everything that was wrong (1 Kings 19). Paul said, “But to me, it is a very small thing that I should be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. Therefore, do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts” (1 Cor 4:3-5).
Next, one who is insecure will seek to validate his own worth, by attempting to take charge, thus protecting his own interests and monopolize the situation. Often we attempt to chart our own course, risk integrity, protect personal “turf” and often slip into the “scarcity mind set.” Sarah did this. She felt that God was inattentive, absent, or even against her. She allowed the circumstances to determine her own understanding of God’s character. All Sarah could see was how scarce things were rather than how abundant. She became preoccupied with self-seeking and manipulating of others. She resented the success of others, even turning on them in anger. Sarah felt that if someone succeeds, then someone must lose. So she blamed others for her dilemma. Eventually, she suffered the martyr syndrome (Gen. 16). Jeremiah writes, “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to ME, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search with all your heart” (Jer. 29:11-13).
How do we overcome the feelings of insecurity? What are some keys to personal security? The first is truth. To think more highly of ourselves than we ought is pride. But to think less of ourselves than we ought is false humility. In one sense that can be pride too: pride in our supposed humility. In between, there is an honest appraisal of our own worth, and that is self esteem, The Bible’s message is simple – “God values us highly because He loves us deeply” (unknown). Learn the truth about what produces your insecurity. Determine what triggered the event that fostered the lie. Discover the lie you believed about that situation. Decide what response is truthful, appropriate and realistic. “Be honest with your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you” (Rom. 12:3).
The second key to personal security is identity. We must tie our self worth to our identity in Christ, not people and performance. “The more you reaffirm who you are in Christ, the more your behavior will begin to reflect your true identity” (Neil Anderson). As Christians we are God’s children (John. 1:12). That makes us somebody!
The third key to personal security is brokenness. We must allow God to break us of our self-sufficiency and self-promotion. Since insecurity is largely caused by self-pity then personal security is the product of a God-controlled life. Broken people are overwhelmed with a sense of their own spiritual need. They esteem others better than themselves, yielding their rights. They are not concerned with self at all. They can accept personal responsibility and see when they are wrong.
The fourth key to personal security is purpose. We must discover and practice God given purpose in life. Our life mission begins with ourselves. It contains life changing convictions, includes others, possesses eternal values, and centers on God’s priorities.
The final key to personal security is giving and receiving. We must learn to let others love and bless us, and do the same for them.
by Rickie Jenkins