10 Signs That Insecurity Could Be Eating Away At You And Your Youth Ministry

Insecurity in leadership is one of my greatest concerns as I look ahead to the future of youth ministry. It doesn’t matter how focused we are on seeking the latest and best ways to minister if we are not secure in our leadership. Whether you are a volunteer or a full-time / part-time paid youth worker, your youth ministry will reflect your security, (or insecurity).

Are you secure in God’s calling, strength, and purpose for you? Or, Is your life and ministry swayed by your insecurity?

Here are 10 signs that our ministry (and lives), are swayed by insecurity:

  1. Our days begin with a long list of tasks that focus on keeping others happy, rather than seeking God’s affirmation.
  2. We constantly compare ourselves to other youth workers or the youth ministry down the street.
  3. We say “Yes” to every event and program idea: We are scared that by saying no, we might lose popularity.
  4. We can’t miss a phone call at any time of the day: If we do, it eats us alive to wonder what the call was about.
  5. We would rather be good friends with students, rather than being a solid leader to them.
  6. We regularly lose sleep when students, leaders, and parents disagree or disapprove of us.
  7. We constantly complain to friends about the latest conflict or disagreement in hopes to gain support and affirmation.
  8. We feel defeated and devastated when an event or program doesn’t quite live up to what we and others hoped, (rather than seeing it as an opportunity to grow and learn).
  9. We have a tendency to fish for compliments from others, and are fueled (and ruled), by their affirmations.
  10. We feel distant from God and feel a lack of security and confidence in Him (and His promises…)

If you are like me, there are many things on this list that I relate to. I have times when I feel confident and secure, and then there are times when I feel desperate and insecure in myself and my ministry.

I know this might be completely obvious, but who are we trying to please?

As you go through your day, consider your motivations, your decisions, and your feelings. Are they driven by the intense need to keep others happy, or are you striving to please God and let his leading bring fruit to your life and ministry? I know this might seem so obvious, but it’s one of the greatest issues I see in leadership in churches today.

Are we really living to please God, or living for the approval of others? Are we allowing insecurity to define our lives and ministries?

What would you add to this list? What are some of the indicators that your ministry and life is defined by insecurity?

Phil <><

  • Josh K


    I love your posts, brother. I’d have to say i currently resonate with points 1,2,3,6,8,9. You’d think after 10 years of doing this full-time I’d snap out of it.

    I think the line between wanting to please God and choosing to please others is blurry. We may start out wanting to please God, but if you go to enough well-meaning seminars and conferences, you might start thinking that if you aren’t growing numerically you aren’t pleasing God. And once you start focusing on numbers alone (instead of letting God lead your vision), it inevitably comes down to a people pleasing game. That’s how I got caught up in the trap.

    Good stuff Phil. Thanks for the refocusing.. I needed that.

  • Phil Bell

    Josh, thanks for your comments. I agree, we often begin focused and affirmed by God and then goals, numbers, and expectations from others creep in to our focus. I feel like it is a weekly battle to ensure that we are building our security in the person of Jesus Christ and coming back to Him again and again.

    Insecurity creates cracks in our character and our ministry. Security in Christ builds a healthy character and ministry.

    Phil <

  • Kelli M

    wow… i definitely needed to see this today! I am a part time youth director at a small church, which happens to be the church i was raised in. I often find myself insecure of what I am doing. This summer I interned at a large church and as soon as I moved home I began working at the church I am currently at. I am single, young, and still have so much to learn! I often feel i have to please EVERYONE in my church and in a way “prove” myself to everyone. It gets tiring. I needed to be reminded that the only person I need to be pleasing is Jesus. Its funny how I share that truth with my students all the time and i still need to be reminded of it as well! Thanks for your post and encouraging me today! Praying for you and your ministry!

  • Phil Bell

    Kelli, I am so glad this post helped you today!

    Like you said, it’s so important that we look to please Jesus first! I am convinced that the root to burnout for many youth workers is the seed of people of pleasing…

    Phil <

  • http://practicalyouthministry.com Brandon

    #7 in your list stings a little bit, so I talked to some other youth ministers who agree with me that #7 is a too critical of my insecurities. :)