“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein
Recall the last mistake you made. How did you handle it? Did you own up to it, and perhaps learn something from it? Or did you try to blame it on someone or something else and move on? If your response was the latter, you have plenty of company: it is the response of most people.
At some point we have had or will have a tough conversation. Whether with a friend, a neighbor, a colleague or a family member, confrontation is never easy.
Because we dislike confrontation, and because it is so difficult, we often do anything to avoid confronting others.
These conversations usually occur because you care about the person, you have been hurt, or you do not want someone else to get hurt.
Whatever the reason, confronting another person is never easy.
In the story of the rich young ruler (Mark 10:17-22), Jesus tells him to go and sell everything, give the money to the poor, and follow Him.
The young man left very sad because his riches meant more to him than following Jesus. I suspect he wasn’t aware that the blessings had replaced the Blesser until he was asked to make a choice between the two.
Jesus also said to follow Him we must be willing to hate/give up the most important relationships in our lives (Luke 14:26).
By Jesus’ own clear instructions, we are told we should not allow anything [riches] or anyone [parents, spouse, siblings, etc.] to stand between us and our relationship with Him.
Jesus wants our undivided, uncompromising focus and attention.
In any area of leadership, your most important asset is the people you lead. The worth of this asset increases or decreases, depending on how you treat them.
In the relationship between leader and follower, the banking principle of deposit and withdrawal is constantly at work. When something positive is said or given to a follower, a deposit is made. When something difficult has to be said, such as talking to someone about poor job performance or consistent tardiness, a withdrawal is made. Things can go very wrong if the withdrawal turns out to be larger than previous deposits.
Where do you go to be completely honest with what you are feeling, thinking and going through without being judged? Who hears your heart with all its fears, joys and concerns? Who do you have to be straight up in your face honest with you, to let you hear the hard truth even when you do not want to hear it? Many of us, especially leaders, do not have such honesty and accountability in our lives. And for many, the consequences have been tragic.
I have come to learn that such honesty and accountability is essential for us as leaders. It helps to avoid the disillusionment of self-sufficiency. I have heard many people, myself included, say, “I know if I had a place to be honest and be held accountable, I would not have made many of the mistakes I made.”
We all have been wounded. Last week I blogged on the topic, “We All Have Wounds That Need To Be Healed.” We must face and deal with our wounds in order to be freed from the shame, embarrassment and dysfunction of them. Only then is it possible to become wounded healers as we use our journey of healing to help others.
Today I want to focus on the process of facing our woundedness, so we can experience the healing we need to become wounded healers.
Many years ago while in graduate school I read the book The Wounded Healer, by Henri Nouwen. That book forever changed my life as I was learning to deal with wounds of my life. I recently read a quote from that book that reminded me once again of the importance of recognizing that we all have wounds which continue to shape our lives. Here is the quote:
“Nobody escapes being wounded. We all are wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. The main question is not ‘How can we hide our wounds?’ so we don’t have to be embarrassed, but ‘How can we put our woundedness in the service of others?’ When our wounds cease to be a source of shame, and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers.”
In Acts 6, when the first century church was growing by the thousands and social needs were growing as well, a problem developed which the Apostles were asked to resolve.
One group complained that their people in need were not being served. The Apostles listened, then explained why they could not be the answer to the problem: they could not leave what they were called to do in order to do something others were called to do.
Has anyone ever kept you waiting for an appointment? Have you ever experienced someone cutting in front of you in traffic or at the grocery store?
What went through your mind when these things happened? If you are like many people, you reacted with anger or frustration because the person appeared to disrespect you in some way.
There is a saying about parenting: “More is caught than taught by children.” In other words, children learn more from what they see their parents do than from what their parents say.
The same saying applies to leaders. Some leaders command an audience by their eloquence and forceful presence. But these are quickly lost when the leader’s talk does not match the walk. Leaders must tell people what is important and then live it out in their own words.