Honestly, I’ve felt insecure more days of my life than I’ve felt secure. That’s the reality for most of us. Anyone who is truly authentic and transparent will admit to having some insecurities. It’s easy for insecurities to drain the emotional energy of a leader and even stifle the progress of a team. Insecurities can derail a leader’s potential more quickly than most things. In this post, I want to discuss where these insecurities come from and give you the first step to overcoming them.
One Sunday morning at POA, I preached a message called “He Makes Beautiful Things.” In that message, I testified to the emotional healing that was taking place in my life. I began the message like this: “My name is Ryan. I’m a grateful believer in Jesus Christ, and I’m in recovery from self-reliance and approval addiction.” In the past, I would have been scared to death to say those words. I wouldn’t have wanted to admit those truths to anyone, much less announce them to a room full of hundreds of people. Many years of my life I woke up every morning and put on a mask in order to protect my image.
Shakespeare once wrote, “Away and mock the time with fairest show; False face must hide what the false heart doth know.” That quote explains what I did most days; I covered up who I really was in order to hide from the world. I desperately wanted to run from who the Lord was calling me to be and what He was calling me to do.
I had to convince myself that God does indeed make beautiful things. To do this, I had to go to scripture often to remind myself that I wasn't a mistake and that He’d formed me perfectly. Verses like Genesis 1:31 helped me. The Bible says, “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” God’s creation isn’t just good. According to this scripture, it is very good.
Ecclesiastes 3:11” says, He hath made every thing beautiful in his time. . .” It was important for me to know that everything God made was beautiful. There really wasn’t anything about me that I needed to hide; He’d made me very good, and He’d made me beautiful. These scriptures remind me of the chorus to a song written by Michael and Lisa Grungor, “You make beautiful things. You make beautiful things out of the dust. You make beautiful things. You make beautiful things out of us."
I want to declare to you today that God makes beautiful things. On the last day of creation, God created man in His own image. He finished His work in creation by adding a personal touch. God formed man from the dust of the ground and gave man life by breathing His own breath into him. No matter how old, young, broken, tired, confused, or scared you may be, God still has a ticket of destiny with your name written all over it; and it really is a beautiful thing.
Many of you are reading my words of hope today, but you may be thinking, “Ryan, you have no idea how much I want believe your words, but every attempt to step into the dreams that I feel God has given me has been a repeated scene of failure.” I was there at one point in my life as well. If you’re like me, after each of your repeated failures, you have even less confidence that anything will ever change. You are constantly left with doubt, fear, and deep insecurities. I want to encourage you today that there is a solution to your problem. I know that the Bible is true, and I know that God does make beautiful things. He provided the answers for me, and He continues to provide those answers as I move through my life. However, there is some fine print in this disclaimer —most every contract has fine print, right? There’s fine print on the contract between you and God, too. God’s dreams for us are really not about us because ultimately this life isn’t really about us. God’s dreams will definitely bring fulfillment to us, but they're really not about what we want. God's dreams for us are about helping others, loving others, bringing the Gospel to others, guiding, serving, leading, influencing, and imparting to others hopes and dreams.
Unfortunately, pride often slips into our hearts. The biblical definition of pride is “an unholy preoccupation with self.” There’s nothing wrong with being occupied with ourselves to a certain degree. That’s normal. There’s nothing wrong with taking care of our own needs, interests, and ambitions. There’s nothing evil about wanting to protect ourselves. That’s completely natural and expected. The problem is that pride influences us to become occupied with ourselves first. We become preoccupied with putting our needs and our interests ahead of others’ needs and interests. We sometimes leave God out of the equation all together, and we forget that God is the source of everything that we have and all that we enjoy. We forget that He is the only one worthy of worship.
James 4:6 tells us, “Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” Through this scripture, we understand that pride doesn’t settle too well with God. My problem was that no matter how hard I tried, I could never get my pride to work for me. No matter how hard I struggled, Ryan plus pride would never equal abundant life. That equation will never work.
The enemy wants you to believe the lie that abundant life comes from the pride of life. John 10:10 says, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” The tactic of Satan is to steal, kill, and destroy. Whatever Satan wants you to believe, it will most certainly not result in abundant life. It will only result in loss, death, and destruction.
Several years ago, I read the book TrueFaced: Trusting God and Others with Who You Really Are written by Bill Thrall, John Lynch, and Bruce McNicol. I was deeply moved by a particular passage, and tears began streaming down my face as I read these words on the page:
God couldn’t help us until we trusted him with who we really were. That was perhaps our first taste of a TrueFaced life. It was stunning. Incredible. It painted our world in colors we hardly knew existed. But, something happened to many of us in the intervening years. We lost confidence that His delight of us and new life in us would be a strong enough (force) for a growth that would glorify God and fix our junk. So, we gradually bought the slick sales pitch that told us we would need to find something more, something others seemed to have that we could never quite get our hands around. Something magical and mystical that we would receive if we tried hard enough and proved good enough, often enough. And so we began learning to prop things up. We went back to trying to impress God and others — back to posturing, positioning, manipulating, trying to appear better than who we were. Our two-faced life has severely stunted our growth. And broken our hearts. And left us gasping. Although we may have accumulated titles, status, and accomplishments, we personally remain wounded and immature — long on “success,” but short on dreams. We admire people who live the TrueFaced life, but our loss of hope has forced us into desperately trying to discover safety from behind our masks. In a very real sense, we are all performers. Because of sin we’ve lost confidence that we will always please our audience, and so we put on a mask. As an unintended result, no one, not even the people we love, ever get to see our true face.
As I read those words, I felt convicted of my deep-rooted insecurities and pride. I’d worn a mask for most of my life, and I had been living two-faced before God and people.
The problem with pride, from a biblical perspective, is that it leaves God out of the picture. Pride can quickly make us believe that whatever good things we’ve attained or received in life are purely the result of our own achievements. We start to view our accomplishments possessively — my hard work, my good looks, my intelligence, my talent, my persistence. We make ourselves the source of all good things instead of God. We end up exalting ourselves, serving ourselves, and trusting ourselves instead of exalting, serving, and trusting Christ.
Romans 12:3 says, “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” We’re not supposed to think too highly of ourselves; that’s pride. But we’re not supposed to think too lowly of ourselves either. We’re to think of ourselves with sober and sound judgment. In other words, we have to honestly evaluate ourselves. Our honest, sober evaluations should not be based on what others think of us or what we think of ourselves but should instead be based on what God thinks of us.
In order to overcome deep-rooted insecurities, you must understand how God thinks of you. Scripture says that God loves you in spite of your sinfulness. It says that you’re fearfully and wonderfully made and that you’re of incredible value to Him. Scripture also tells us that when we turn to Christ in repentance and faith, we can be forgiven for our sins and be made new from the inside out. When you are in Christ, you are destined for glory.
The Lord really does make beautiful things; He made a beautiful thing even when He made you. When you know exactly who you are in Christ, you are free. You are free to remove your mask, free to admit you’re a sinner, free to say, “I’m sorry.” You’re free from having to manage other people’s impressions of you so that your insecurities can diminish. You’re free from having to compete with everyone else’s looks, status, accomplishments, or spirituality. You’re free to do tremendous things for God without needing people to notice you. You’re free to let others have their way, and you’re free to lose graciously and rejoice in someone else’s success because you know exactly who you are. You understand that there’s no one else like you in the universe.
Think about how good it feels when you’re being your true self, when you’re engaged and energized by what you’re doing. When you attempt to hide things about yourself —the good parts, the quirky parts, the awkward parts—you are missing out on becoming the person you were born to be.
I want you to know that you are a special person. I know this because I know that God makes beautiful things.I encourage you today to allow the Lord to search your heart. Let Him reveal things to you, and allow Him to make you into the beautiful person you were meant to be. Remove the mask, and realize that the Lord made a beautiful thing when He made you.
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