I have confronted insecurity nearly every time God has asked me to step into a new season of leadership. Seasons where my emotions are raw and my uncertainty in direction is palpable.
But I’ve also seen the other side.
I had a moment during the last OUTCRY tour where I had been coasting on the insecure reliance on my natural ability and God reminded me that my confidence should never come from my ability but in his calling on me. The moments when you realize a genuine heart for God can cover a multitude of inability!
But I know this is not just something I go through. Over the years I’ve seen my share of insecure leaders. Leaders who may have the right words, actions, knowledge or experience but consistently exude a passive aggressive insecurity that makes you feel like they are on the edge of a knife!
Saul is the textbook case of an insecure leader.
King Saul begins leadership very differently than he ended it.
In 1 Samuel 10 we see a Saul that has come out of a humble background. He is anointed king and then the spirit falls on him and he prophesies and signs and wonders accompany his anointing. Then as he is about to be publicly announced as Israel’s king, he runs off and hides! Saul begins his leadership with a healthy dose of humility. He is a reluctant leader who knows he has no natural right to the office he now holds. This is the beginning of many successful leaders in the Bible. From Moses to Gideon, those with a reluctant humility seem to be the Lord’s chosen for the biggest tasks.
So what goes wrong with Saul? Because it certainly does go wrong.
In 1 Samuel 13-15 we see a series of unfortunate events with Saul’s leadership.
In the beginning of chapter 13 Saul has been king for two years and his power is starting to go to his head. He finds himself in a tough spot and steps in and makes a rash decision to perform a sacrifice to the Lord. A job of the priests. A duty God has not given to him. This is the beginning of the end for Saul. And Samuel tells Saul what God wants.
“..The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people”
1 Samuel 13:14 ESV
God wants someone after his heart! And that is a posture of the heart Saul is apparently not walking in. He is relying on his own ability and it begins to cause insecurity and Saul begins to make rash decisions to exert his influence and power where it doesn’t belong.
Here are a couple of marks of insecure leadership from Saul that ultimately stem from his unhealthy heart posture toward God.
1 – You have no trust or honest connection to those under your leadership.
In chapter 14 we see Saul’s son, Johnathan is a capable leader that gets a great idea about how to attack the Philistines. The problem is, he has no trust or relationship with his father and is uncomfortable sharing his idea with Saul. This is ultimately a problem that is Saul’s not Johnathan’s.
So Johnathan goes out on his own. And it works! God blesses his efforts and he handily defeats the Philistines!
Saul could have celebrated Johnathan. He could have shared in his son’s victory… if he had a good relationship with him.
If the people we lead feel the need to hide their ideas for fear of failure, there is something wrong.
As leaders our ability to love and connect with those we lead is vital. Jealousy and insecurity keep us from genuinely championing those under our leadership. This not only discourages the people we lead, but affects our ability to lead as well. We begin to make decisions based on our insecurities not in the genuine confidence that comes from God’s calling.
2 – You make rash decisions simply to exert your authority.
Right after Johnathan’s success Saul declares that his army is to fast the rest of the day. A pointless and foolish decree to exert his power. An emotional, in-the-moment decision that was born out of his insecurity and inability to celebrate those under his leadership.
If you find yourself making rash decisions and unable to allow those under you to flourish, you are going down the path of Saul! Stop. Pray. Your confidence is not in your ability but in your calling.
In contrast to Saul, Jesus allowed his disciples—and let’s face it, they were a mess—to get out and minister in the name of Jesus far before most leaders would have considered them ready. And today, he continues to call unqualified, uneducated and messy people to champion his gospel and be his representatives on earth.
If he could let go and let those under him flourish then we should too.