Many ministers/Chaplains suffer from insecurity. Just ask. Insecurity finds problems where they don’t exist. Insecurity promotes a feeling of failure, ruins personal morale, and hangs a dark cloud over the best Chaplain position one could ever have. Part of your CPE experience dealt with knowing yourself. I urge you to know yourself well enough to recognize/identify your own insecurities and do something positive to rid yourself of these troubling feelings.
Let me suggest the following as ways to diminish those feelings.
- Practice the “pause”. When in doubt, pause. When angry, pause. When stressed, pause. When feeling insecure, pause. And when you pause, pray. Good adage. Too often a Chaplain will read a performance review that provides constructive criticism and take a nose dive or worse yet, make a phone call to the supervisor and get defensive. Yes, there are supervisors who lead with shame, guilt and condemnation. And, that doesn’t help a Chaplain’s insecurities. But, do not read into something what is not there. Believe me, if a supervisor wanted to “get you” there are easier ways to do it. So, before you do or say something you will later regret, slow down, take a pause, breathe a prayer, count to 100, re-read what was written and you’ll see it wasn’t as bad as you first thought.
- In case you didn’t do it in CPE, explore where all these insecurities come from. They all had a genesis, so figure out where you were in life and what was said or done to you. Once you discover that your insecurities were learned and have become a way of life for you, you are at a crossroads. Will you choose a healthy emotional state or stay where you are?
- Insecurities don’t give up easily. There will be times when they rush back like a torrent. Believe me, other people know it when you act on your insecurity. No one is fooled. Your peers are aware of it and, also, your supervisor. What gives it away? Your body language, the tone of your voice, and your writing, as in writing an email.
- Three keys to emotional security:
- STOP comparing yourself to others. You have your unique strengths. Celebrate them and invest them in your work. Polish your strengths.
- We all have weaknesses. Don’t let them win over your strengths.
- What is your self-talk? Change it from putting yourself down to celebrating the good you do.
- Do not ever give up. There are plenty of experiences in the life of a Chaplain that will sap you of energy and cause you think poorly of your performance. It happens to all of us. It’s just the way it is. Ever call for an appointment for a home team patient only to be told the patient died a day or so ago? Ever misunderstand what your supervisor told you to do? I could go on about typical things like that. Fact is, we’ve all made mistakes. The only mistake that is fatal is the mistake to choose to remain insecure. You’re too valuable to allow that to happen.