I was reading an author I really respect and enjoy, and he referred to unhealthy Christian leaders who are driven by ego to be constantly affirmed. I wondered how, in my experience, often that behavior is considered immaturity or even sinful. I recalled conversations in the leadership of a Christian community where such behavior was called “a discipleship issue,” the speaker inferring that someone (anyone but me! we would all think) should lovingly address that with the immature believer.
But what drives the need for constant affirmation? It’s easy to slough off any alarm to such behavior by labeling it “insecurity.” As soon as we label it as insecurity, it relieves the pressure in us when we are confronted with “character issues” in someone with broad influence over people we care about. We’ve correctly identified it, and hopefully, someone will help make that person more secure, so their behavior will self-correct.
What if we dwelt a moment there, instead of nodding at our rapid identification of “insecurity” or “character issues” and moving on? What does insecurity mean?
There’s a root desire in that person to need connection and healthy love with others, and they’ve been nurtured in an environment that created an insecure attachment to caregivers unless they perform well, unless they bury their authentic need to express their gut feelings, in order to secure praise.
What might it look like to offer healthy connection to such a longing in someone?
What sort of questions or statements might let them know their connection to us isn’t threatened by their authentic emotions?
What kinds of patterns of healthy care could we offer to help rewire their understanding of love in a secure setting?
How might new patterns of care based on love (and not performance) ripple out into their connections with everyone else?