“Nick, you need to get some help.” That phrase was repeated to me over and over again for several months. My supervisor, friends, and wife knew something I didn’t–I had a major blind spot. Not only was I unaware of my condition, but my blind spot was also running the show and dictating my reactions. This spiral was serious business as I could see myself going down the path of being “released.” I needed to act and begin to make changes.
What dangerous blind spot did I have? Insecurity. It all started at a conference called “The Global Leadership Summit.” My church hosts this teleconference every year and Pastor Bill Hybels was up to deliver the initial message. He told the story of his assistant walking into his office and telling him everyone knew when he was stressed out. Bill was shocked as he thought he was skilled at hiding the way he responded to pressure. As he began to talk about his newly discovered blind spot, I remember thinking, “This is crazy. I’m so glad I don’t struggle with blind spots.” Cue audience laughter.
Later that week I was telling this story to a good friend of mine. I laughed at how crazy one has to be not to know they have a blind spot. Evan looked at me and said, “Why are you laughing? You have an obvious blind spot.” As Evan began to explain what he meant, I blew off his response. The next night, my best friend Nick was over our house. It was a different night, but we had the same conversation. I laughed, and Nick (my best friend) said, “Why are you laughing?” I’m sure that I glared at him in the moment. He said virtually the same thing that Evan had said. I asked my wife (should have done that first) and she confirmed. Suddenly, I was a little nervous.
The next week, I was in my monthly mentor meeting with our Lead Pastor. As I began to share this story with Glen, he confirmed what two of my friends and Laura had said. I then told my supervisor, and that’s when the serious conversations started to happen. Robin advised me that this was something she was preparing to bring up to me but was afraid it was going to take me so off guard it could do damage. Everyone saw this as a major issue, and I was completely unaware.
As I began to dig into my insecurity issues, I realized just how serious it was. I was acting out of insecurity in my relationships with leaders, team supervisors, other staff, friends, and family. While generally a proficient and growing leader, my insecurity was causing me to act out of fear instead of confidence.
Dumbfounded, I began to research and examine my interactions. To be truthful, I want to make a couple of quick changes and move on. The last thing I wanted was for everyone to see me as the guy who was insecure. After all, I’m supposed to be on the path to be a lead pastor one day and dealing with such a big issue as leading from insecurity wasn’t on my agenda. As much as I wanted it to be a short distraction, I realized the problem was much deeper. My identity was wrapped up in others instead of Jesus.
How did I begin to address this?
First, I went to a counselor we had on staff. That’s right; I talked to a counselor (that’s ok!). He was very helpful and gave me a framework for my situation.
Do you need to talk to a counselor? I have gone to professional counseling three different times. All have been very useful!
Second, I opened myself up to those around me for honest discussion without fear of retribution. I needed to find some people that I could trust to help me in my journey. Who do you have in your life? I gave them permission to ask me this question whenever they saw me acting insecure, “Why is that so important to you? or Why is that person’s opinion so important to you?” These two questions challenged my thinking.
Third, I read book after book. Instead of reading books and taking myself out of the application, I put myself in the story. I read each book as if it were written to address my issues. Here are some books I’ve found helpful:
Looking back, my wife, friends, mentor, and supervisor were all staging an intervention. They didn’t organize it, but God used them to push my blind spot into the light. In hindsight, if I hadn’t addressed my insecurity, I think I would have eventually destroyed the ministry I steward.
What do you need to stop laughing about and address in your life? Ask some people, you trust to get real with you. Give those that work with you a 360 review to complete on your behalf. If you want to become a better leader, you must get uncomfortable and address real issues.