Tag Archives: insecure

This Is My Story, This Is My Song: The Third Eight

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? –Matthew 7:3

story song by Grant Cochrane

image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / freeditigalphotos.net

I graduated from high school one week after turning 17 and headed off to college at James Madison University. I spent my first two years at college struggling to find myself and my faith. I struggled with drinking and partying and having no relationship at all with God, at one point even telling my mother I wasn’t sure if I believed in God anymore. While I had stopped looking at pornography when I came to college, it had already taken its place in my mind, changing the way I looked at people and the expectations I had for them. I cut people out of my life if they didn’t meet my criteria for what “good people” were. I judged people, had very little grace, and carried around a great deal of shame.

When I decided to turn my life over to Jesus my junior year, I left my former partying friends and joined a campus ministry, determined to change my course. But even there, I maintained that everything with me was great. No one knew that I was still secretly struggling with my self-worth and self-image, with being transparent and honest with others, and with having true intimacy in my life. I was hiding everything about myself behind academic and musical excellence. I made great friends but felt like no one understood me or the deep shame I had about my pornography addiction and struggles with lust and fantasy. I also continued to push people away with my brash and judgmental personality, leaving a trail of hurt friends in my path as I boldly proclaimed truth without love. I could see the everyone else’s faults, but I could not see my own. Even as God called me into youth ministry once I graduated from JMU, I continued losing these battles. In addition, my relationship with my family became strained. My internal struggles eventually became external, and I was abruptly fired from a youth ministry job. I took a break from working in ministry, believing that everyone else was to blame.

There I was: with broken relationships, a struggling career, and very little to call my own. I was too broken to see it then, but looking back, I can see that the common denominator in my problems was me. Too often people will look at their lives and say that they have constantly been victimized or dealt a bad hand—and sometimes, this is true. Other times, however, we are too quick to look at outside sources as the cause for our problems while refusing to look within. Why? Because it is easier to place blame than accept it. Even the Bible acknowledges this in Matthew 7:3—I was more likely to see others’ issues than my own. And Matthew 7:5 continues, “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” And to be successful in ministry and life as a prophet gift, I would need to learn this difficult but important lesson.

In response to her penchant for writing songs about her failed relationships, someone said, “Did Taylor Swift ever consider that maybe she’s the problem?” Great question! Now, can we turn that around on ourselves, in our own situations, and ask, “Have I ever considered that perhaps I am the problem?” Because it’s when we are brave enough to look in the mirror instead of the windshield that we can begin to truly tackle our own issues and begin to heal.

Where do you most often look when problems arise: the windshield or the mirror?

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This Is My Story, This Is My Song: The First Eight

“This is my story/This is my song/Praising my Savior all the day long!” Over the next few blogs, I will be sharing my life testimony with you, including the lessons I’ve learned from my past, the excitement I am experiencing in the present, and the hope I have for my future. Blessings!

“Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.” –Psalm 66:16

story song by Grant Cochrane

image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / freedigitalphotos.net

On Valentine’s Day in 1977, my mother went to the doctor believing she had a stomach tumor. As it turned out, she was actually pregnant with her second child—me. She was in the midst of separating from my father, and thus, in June 1977, I was born into a single parent home to my mom and a sister who was three and half years old. My father remarried when I was six months old to a woman I knew and loved my entire life as my stepmother.

I grew up in a relatively tight-knit family with my mom and sister, living next door to my grandparents (and sometimes my uncle). My father and stepmother lived in the same town, about 15 minutes away, though I only saw him sporadically as I was growing up. My earliest memory of my father is of him coming over to take my sister out—and leaving me behind. The rejection and isolation I felt, even at that young age, was palpable. It was the first of many rejections at the hands of my earthly father. Despite this, in my primary years, I excelled at school and found my many gifts—especially music. I attended church constantly with my family, and when I was eight years old, I responded to an altar call at my church and accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I was in third grade. That same year, my maternal grandmother died of colon cancer. I had lived next door to her my entire life, as she spoiled me with homemade candies and a true grandmother’s love. This loss was devastating to me personally. Shortly after her death, to help care for my aging grandfather, we moved next door into his house with him.

My primary years were marked by changes and loss, and though it was difficult, I can look back and see a valuable lesson that marked the first eight years of my life: You are never too young to begin a relationship with Christ. Even though I was only eight, beginning my journey with God at such a young age helped established the strong foundation in my life that has continued to this day. I’m not saying I haven’t struggled or doubted. But looking back, I can see that God was always with me during the rejection, the loss, and the suffering I experienced from life. Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Though I could not physically see God through my eight year old eyes, now I look back and see the truth of this verse lived out in my early years. I was rejected, but not alone. I experienced loss, but He helped me—even as a third grader with no deep knowledge of Him. God upheld me through this time of significant loss and change early in my life, and He still does the same for me today.

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” I am thankful that my mother not only believed this verse but lived it out so that I had a strong foundation on which to stand while facing the struggles that lay ahead for me in the next eight years.

If God can strengthen, help, and uphold a naïve, rejected, eight-year-old girl, what could He do for you today? 

Authentic Responsibilities: I Just Don’t Know

Authentic Responsibility #6: As a human being, I will sometimes not know the answer to a question. I am responsible to say “I don’t know,” continue respecting myself, and not accept any disrespect for “not knowing.”

shrugging man by David Castillo Dominici

image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / freedigitalphotos.net

When I was in high school, my friend and her dad invited me to attend a leadership conference. During the conference, the speaker asked if we had any “Drug-Free Zone” signs in our school district. I nodded and then affirmed that we did. My friend’s dad asked me where it was located. I knew I had seen one but I honestly didn’t know where it was. So I said what first came into my mind: “It’s at the entrance to our middle and high schools.” My friend’s dad vocalized his skepticism, which I then countered by insisting that there was a sign there. On the drive home, we stopped by the entrance to our middle and high schools and to my embarrassment, there was no sign. On the short drive to my house, I endured a lecture about the importance of knowing the truth from my friend’s dad as he rebuked me smugly for speaking out of turn.

I remember how I felt from both ends of the situation: I felt terrible for saying something that ended up being untrue, and I felt humiliated that my friend’s dad had reacted like a jerk when I was wrong. And although I wasn’t a responsible adult when this occurred, it reminds me of three important points about when we don’t know something:

  1. It’s okay to not know. I did not really know the answer to the question. However, my childish pride wouldn’t allow me to say that I did not know. With the internet, social media, and smartphones, it seems we are expected to know everything. But we are not. We can continue learning every day, but we must remember that it is okay to swallow our pride and say, “I don’t know.” Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.” Humble yourself and admit when you don’t know, or you may face disgrace.
  2. Let it go. Another issue that stems from pride is that we may continue to hold on to something, to believe we must be right or prove to others that we are right or smart. I did exactly this when I was challenged by my friend’s father in front of the group. Instead of admitting that I might not have known and moving forward, I pressed the issue. Maybe you don’t know and yet you don’t want to feel inferior. I challenge you to let it go and keep respecting yourself. Not knowing does not make you inferior! (1 John 3:20)
  3. Don’t accept disrespect. I was only a teenager, so I could not correct my friend’s father’s disrespect of me. However, I learned a good lesson about how to handle when you are wrong and when you are right. I try not to be disrespectful towards others who may not know the answers. And if I’m disrespected, I address that as politely and firmly as I can. Ephesians 5:11 encourages us to stand up for ourselves, noting that we are to “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” Disrespecting others is unfruitful, so expose to the light of Christ—in love—any disrespect shown you, and reject it.

Now, as an adult, when I don’t know something, I freely admit it with confidence! And when someone else doesn’t know something, I show them respect—treating them how I would want to be treated. Only God knows everything. Once you’ve accepted that, you can begin to walk in humility and allow God to lift you up.

When is a time you didn’t know the answer to something? How did others respond?

Authentic Responsibility #3: I’m Not Obligated

Authentic Responsibility #3: I have the responsibility to choose whether I offer help for other people’s problems. I make my own commitments; no one can obligate me to that which I’m not committed.

assistance by anankkml

image courtesy of anankkml / freedigitalphotos.net

Some time ago, I found myself entangled in a situation between two of my friends, John and Julie. John was showing some erratic and crazy behavior towards Julie, which frightened Julie. A close friend of John’s confided the situation to me, and somehow, the pushy prophet girl ended up in the middle. Because I knew John’s parents, I contacted them for my close friend and met with them about the situation. I also talked to Julie about what was going on. I mediated an e-mail chain between parents and Julie. And then, after a misunderstanding, I received a nasty voicemail from John’s mother. While listening to the voicemail, I realized something: I somehow had gotten myself involved in a situation, and I no longer wanted to be involved in it. And while I was concerned for the parties involved, I called my close friend and told him I was done: I stepped back and removed myself from the situation completely. I never should have been involved in the first place.

Authentic responsibility #3 gives you the responsibility of choosing where to offer your help and place your commitments–no one else can make these decisions for you. Here are three things to remember when choosing your obligations:

  • Have clear boundaries. In my situation with John and Julie, I did not express clear boundaries from the beginning. My involvement should have ended with giving my close friend the contact information for John’s parents and praying for the situation. Instead, I took on more roles that eventually got muddled and angered everyone, including me. Clear boundaries would have prevented this. You may not know where the situation is heading, but you can prepare yourself for where you will go from the outset (Galatians 6:5).
  • Stand by your commitments. This is a simple mandate from the Bible in James 5:12, which says, “But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.” In my situation, I did not do this. I said I would help but then backed out when I realized I really did not want to be involved. Jesus told a parable of a son who said he would show up to work in his father’s vineyard but then didn’t, and another son who said he wouldn’t show up to work, but then did. If you must choose, be the son who says he isn’t going to help, but then does—this was the son who pleased his Father (Matthew 21:28-31).
  • Let go of the guilt. You can’t help or save everyone—and you aren’t called to. That is Jesus’ job. Pray about where God is asking you to spend your time. While the Bible mandates that we help others and show others compassion, we are also to be good stewards of our time. You must release any feelings of guilt you have on your own or that others may attempt to press on you. Remember, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1)—it is okay to say no!

Philippians 2:4 says, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Authentic responsibilities help us take care of ourselves and our interests so that we can better take care of others. It is your responsibility to decide where your obligations lie.

How do you decide where you will commit yourself and your time? Share in the comments!

Becoming Fearlessly Fulfilled: Worth Finding

woman by anankkml

image courtesy of anankkml / freedigitalphotos.net

I wasn’t more than four years old. My dad was coming over to pick us up to spend time with him. I was waiting anxiously in the living room when he arrived—except he didn’t want me to go along with him. So he took only my sister and left me behind feeling things that I now can describe as rejection and worthlessness—deep threads woven into my life at such an early age. It’s not the only memory I have, but it’s one of the strongest. 

Far too many people struggle with these types of feelings and memories: we walk around trying to fill the void, manage the pain, and/or move ahead in life by ignoring it. I filled mine with everything I could possibly find: pornography, musical talents, lust, bad relationships, false confidence, and even church work through a career in ministry. The problem is, like many people, I was not properly dealing with the real issue: a lack of self-worth.

Many women have asked me how they can find their self-worth. I wish that I could give a three-step process to finding your personal worth, but I can only make suggestions based on how I eventually found mine. So here are a few things I’ve learned in my continual journey towards self-worth:

  1. Seek healing for your wounds. As I’ve noted, I completed the Celebrate Recovery step study process and that was the bulk of my healing process. CR may not work for everyone, but it provided for me what I needed to work through my pain. I’m not talking about managing your pain; I’m talking about working through your pain, finding Jesus amidst your pain, and allowing Him to lead you out of your pain. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). We must surrender to the difficult pressing to be truly delivered—whether through CR, counseling, coaching, or whatever means works best for us.
  2. Believe what God says about you in His Word. My woundedness inhibited me from truly experiencing the joy of being a child of God. Even though I was a youth pastor, working full-time in ministry, I still did not believe what God said about me in His Word. I knew what God said about me—that I was chosen, royal, holy, a princess, his daughter, a co-heir with Christ, beloved, worthy, His workmanship, a citizen of heaven, His friend—but I did not live like it. Once I moved out of my pain, I was free to accept and begin living as who God says I am, not who the world says I am. Now, I don’t just know it, I believe it!
  3. Submit to the lifelong process. Notice that I said I learned these things in my “continual journey” towards self-worth. I am not done. In fact, the Bible says that we are still works in progress that will not be finished until we meet Jesus (Galatians 5:5). While we are “eagerly awaiting” our completion, we should be constantly challenging ourselves to grow in Christ. There are still parts of me that need full submission to God and tons of work. But the more I give these areas and myself to Him, the more my worth becomes grounded in who Christ is and who He says I am. 

To become fearlessly fulfilled, you must find your worth in the Person of Jesus Christ, the One who created you and loves you—the One who knows you are worth finding.

How have you begun your journey towards self-worth? Share in the comments or Contact Me to start your journey today!

Dealing with Dangerous Leadership

“Insecure leaders are dangerous leaders.” A friend shared this sentiment with me, and Dr. John C. Maxwell agrees that “…few things are worse than an insecure leader.” Insecure leaders break teams instead of building them and are extremely toxic, causing great organizations to be mediocre (or even terrible).

I recently worked for a manager who, due to her insecurities, tried to control every aspect of our work environment to the point of insanity. She refused to take the blame for any mistakes, rarely gave praise for work well done, and always sought to make those she managed feel like failures. During my last week there, she told my successor that I was terrible and that she did all the work when it came to my job. It was the most challenging work environment I have ever had–and I have worked in church leadership!

Working with insecure leaders is often incredibly draining physically, mentally, and emotionally. Unfortunately, it may not be possible to change your situation right now. So how do you work close to the fire without getting burned?

Firefighters by nokhoog_buchachon

  • Pray for your situation and for your insecure leaders. This should be your first resort, not your last. Prayer has helped me work with many insecure leaders, and God has answered prayers for strength to walk through those difficult times. And don’t forget to thank God for this trial! He is doing a great work in you through this situation, whether it seems like it or not! (Jeremiah 29:11) Like oxygen to a firefighter, prayer can give you a needed lift!
  • Detox from your environment as often as possible. Pull yourself away! For three years, it was necessary that I took regular lunches, mental health (sick) days, vacations, and time after work each day to mentally recover and physically rest my body, mind, and soul. You are not meant to live in a continual state of stress. Since it is the only body you have, care for it while you are stressed out. Relax as much as possible and even pamper yourself if you can.
  • Share your joys and frustrations with a friend. Each day, I shared my frustrations with close friends who prayed for me, listened to me, guided me when I thought I might lose my mind (and my job), and encouraged me to stay the course when the going got tough. This is especially important if you have a family; they deserves the best of you, not the rest of you. Leave your work worries outside of your sanctuary (home).

If you think you might actually BE an insecure leader, get some feedback from friends and coworkers. If they agree, then admit that you have a problem and find someone to help you. For deeper issues, try a counselor or therapist. If your insecurities concern your identity and leadership skills, a coach could be the right person to help you.

YOU have the tools to make a change, whether it is dealing with insecure leadership or moving out of insecurity and into freedom. 

Working with a dangerous, insecure leader? Need help taking the next steps? Click “Contact Me” at the top of this page and fill out the contact form. I’d love to have a free discovery call with you.