In Psalm 57, David is in a situation of insecurity. He explains that he is facing
“calamities” (v. 1). He says that his “soul is among lions” (v. 4). Things are happening around him, and potentially to him, that are out of his control. David is feeling insecure. His appropriate response is to cry out “unto God the most high” and seek security and refuge in Him (v. 2).
As we address the topic of insecurity, we will consider the causes of insecurity, specific areas in which people are insecure, some recognitions about insecurity, and finally, answers for insecurity.
1. Causes of Insecurity
There are many things that can cause insecurity, but here are seven.
- A Volatile Childhood
If your parents were unpredictable during your developmental years, it is very likely that as an adult you still battle insecurity. If you didn’t know whether they were going to hug you or hit you, you are probably a very insecure adult.
If in any of the key relationships of your life you have been abandoned or betrayed, it is very likely that this has caused insecurity to develop in your mind. If one or both of your parents abandoned you, or if a spouse betrayed you, these things hurt deeply and cause most people to have serious trust issues and deep insecurity going forward.
- Social Scars
If during your formative years, you dealt with social pressure, rejection, mocking, being laughed at, or even being bullied, it is very likely that these things have caused, or added to, your battle with insecurity.
- Unhealthy Comparison
The Bible explains that those who engage in “comparing themselves among themselves are not wise” (2 Corinthians 10:12).Often insecurity surfaces when you see that someone else has the latest in-style clothes or up-to-date technology. You feel inferior as a person because you don’t have those things. In some instances, insecurity is caused when you become jealous of someone else’s talents, gifting, or resources. This type of insecurity stems from unhealthy forms of comparison.
Please note that there are healthy types of comparison. Instead of being jealous of someone else’s abilities, you can choose to be inspired to achieve what they did. Other people’s success can be fuel to motivate you towards your own success. Beware of comparing yourself to others in an unhealthy way because this often leads to personal insecurity.
I heard a man say recently, "I'm only comfortable when I’ve got a wrench in my hand.“ He has experience with auto mechanics and so he is comfortable in that environment. However, he went on to explain that other occupations such as accounting make him feel insecure and even intimidated because he has no experience in those unfamiliar area.
- Lack of Preparation
To be asked to give an impromptu speech causes most people insecurity because they would not be prepared. Panic sets in and sweat begins to bead down their brow. People become overwhelmed with insecurity as they face moments for which they are not
- The Uncontrollables
The national economic situation, the looming potential for international war, and even relational problems with people we work for or people we love can be out of our control, and therefore cause us to have a feeling of insecurity.
2. Areas of Insecurity
Now that we have identified some causes of insecurity, let’s consider some specific areas in which insecurity manifests itself.
- Educational Insecurities
Because of that volatile childhood in the earlier example, or because of social scars, perhaps you were unable to focus in school. There is a social expectation that at your current age and stage in life, you have attained a certain level of knowledge, but you know that you have not. Perhaps you are terrible at spelling. It’s a weak point for you. If someone were to put you on the spot and ask you to spell basic words, you’d be overwhelmed with insecurity and nervousness. You are educationally insecure.
- Physical Insecurities
Possibly, because of verbal or physical abuse during your formative years, you feel ugly. Maybe because of unhealthy comparisons, you think you’re too short or too tall. Maybe you’re insecure about your hair or some other feature of who you are. There are many aspects of your physical appearance that you wish you could change, but they are beyond your control. Because you cannot change them, you have allowed a sense of insecurity to enslave your mind.
- Social Insecurities
Possibly because of betrayal, abandonment, or other social scars, you find basic social interactions to be unusually intimidating. You fear talking to people. There are times when you would rather live as a hermit in the woods than engage socially with others. Maybe over the years, you’ve gotten good at hiding your social insecurities but you know that they are there.
3. Recognitions About Insecurity
We have just considered that there are many things that cause insecurity and many areas in which insecurity manifests itself. Now let’s consider a few recognitions about insecurity. If we’re going to overcome these feelings and develop inner strength, we must recognize the following things.
First, recognize that part of the maturing process is figuring out what actually matters in life. The more spiritually mature a person gets, the more they realize that preoccupation over the brand name of the clothes they wear is just silly vanity. So much of the pomp and circumstance which impresses others is not impressive to God. As a person grows spiritually, they become less wide-eyed and more Christ-focused. The more spiritually mature a person becomes, the more they are able to prioritize the things that matter eternally. Recognize that insecurity is a mental battle and a spiritual battle, not primarily a physical or a social battle.
Second, recognize that the things which have caused your insecurities don’t have to define you. The insecurities are real, and painful, but they are conquerable!
Third, recognize that insecurities can be inhibitions. Your insecurities can pin you down. They can make you overly self-conscious and therefore unable to act in a relaxed way. In this way, they hinder you from making a major difference in the lives of others. Often, insecurities hinder you from being a person of consequence.
Fourth, recognize that insecurities can be catalysts. Once you identify areas of insecurity, you get to choose to either wallow in those insecurities, or strengthen yourself in those areas. You should decide to let those insecurities fuel you toward personal betterment.
Fifth, recognize that insecurity stems from caring too much about what other people think of you, and too little about what God‘s Word declares about you. “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe" (Proverbs 29:25). There were times when it seems like the Apostle Paul didn’t care what people thought of him, but then at other times he clearly does. In 1 Corinthians 4:3, he explains that “it is a very small thing” that the Corinthian believers would judge him. He is saying he doesn’t care what they think about him and in verse 4, he explains that he cares very deeply about how God judges him and what God thinks of him.
Yet, by contrast, in 2 Corinthians 10, Paul does seem to care about what people thought of him. In that passage, he is being a bit defensive. He’s doing a little bit of reputational repair. The example that Paul set, and his overall reputation, were on his list of priorities but not at the very top. Paul seemed to have the right balance. He did care what people thought of him, but not in an all-consuming way that would cause him to be insecure. He cared about their opinions, but not “too much.” Instead, he cared very much about what God‘s word declared about him.
Sixth, recognize that this life is not primarily about you. It’s about Jesus! Thinking too much about yourself always leads to trouble. Spend more time thinking about Him. “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it” (Mark 8:34-35).
4. Answers for Insecurity
First, In Psalm 57, the Psalmist David prays and sings to God explaining that he will take refuge “in the shadow of [God’s] wings” (v. 1). Refuge is God was the place where David found some answers! He found safety, strength, and security in the shadow of those wings. Practically speaking, the way to abide in the shadow of His wings is to saturate your mind with biblical truth.
Second, if you struggle with insecurity, read and reread Matthew 6:25-34. Ruminate on the truth that we are to “take no thought for [our] life.“ In this passage Jesus explains that we are not to be full of “thought,” which is the idea of anxiety or insecurity. In verse 26, Jesus uses the word “behold“ and in verse 28, the word “consider.“ In order for us to have victory over insecurities, Jesus wants us to see (“behold”) the fowls of the air. He explains that God feeds them and reminds us that we are “much better than they.” God's promise is that He will provide things that truly matter so there is no reason to be insecure.
In Matthew 6, the Lord also, wants us to “consider“ (or think about) the lilies of the field. In verses 28 through 30, Jesus addresses insecurities about your clothes. The God who clothes the illustrative lilies so beautifully can provide clothes for you. Therefore, stop being anxious and insecure about these temporal things.
In verse 27 Jesus addresses insecurities about “stature” or height. He is teaching that your anxiety or insecurity is not going to change anything. Being full of insecurity only adds unnecessary stress. Fretting is not going to “add one cubit“ to your stature nor will your insecurity add one more hour to your life. He is telling you to stop being insecure in the way you measure the future.
Instead of being insecure and anxious about temporal things, Jesus instructs the reader to “seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” He is teaching us that there is no need to be insecure and that we are to find our security in Him!
Third, if you are seeking answers to insecurity I recommend that you read and reread Romans 8:31-39. Ruminate on the truth that “If God be for us, who can be against us?“ (vs 31). That truth alone should solve a lot of our insecurity issues. Read verse 35 where the Bible records a daunting list of things that make people insecure: “tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril or sword”. Yet, as Christians, “we are more than conquerors through Him” (v. 37). This is SECURITY! Romans 8 reminds us that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Again, this is SECURITY. This is what really matters and this is what it means to take refuge under the shadow of God’s wings.
The above article was written by James C. Johnson. He is pastor of NorthStone Baptist Church in Pensacola, FL. To offer him your feedback, comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Check out Pastor Johnson's most recent sermon on what the Bible says about grief.