By Josh Reich
All leaders know this feeling.
Someone you have poured into walks out on you or doesn’t keep their word. A staff member, boss, or board member lies to you. You open up to someone about what is happening in you, and they don’t keep that. You share an audacious dream or calling, and someone starts out supporting you but then stops.
Being personally let down.
Every leader knows this feeling too well.
Even those who aren’t leaders know this feeling. But I want to focus on what to do when you are a leader.
A simple response is to pull back. To never trust again, to not open yourself up to the possibility, and many choose this path. I know I have several times in my life. It feels more comfortable, and in the short term, it is. It keeps us walled off and allows us “just to lead.”
In the long term, though, it stunts our leadership and their leadership.
You must wrestle with a few things in this moment and situation.
- Where do you hurt? Locate what hurts. Where in your body does this hurt? What does that tell you about what is going on in you? Too often as leaders, we simply push through things and not articulate where something hurts. Does your heartache? Stomach? Head?
- Why do you hurt? Understanding this gets into the narratives of our lives and the family that we grew up in, but you need to engage this. Once when I felt let down by someone I trusted, I had to articulate that it hurt because of never feeling like older leaders believed in me and the mark that had made in my life, the jealousy I had felt towards other leaders who had mentors. While I was letdown and had reason to be upset, it had more to do with me at that moment. Sometimes figuring this out will take a trust counselor or friend.
- How do you protect against bitterness? As bitterness grows in your heart, joy leaves. Bitterness also makes it incredibly difficult for you to see things as they are because you will simply see everyone and everything around you through that lens.
- How do you trust and hope again? I think hope is the battleground for every leader and one we must engage with daily, but don’t lose hope. You must put practices into place that keep you hopeful, that keep you in the place of dreaming, that keep you refreshed as a leader so that you can lead well and not from a place of cynicism.
This is where the difficult conversation comes in. None of us like hard conversations, but they have to be had, especially in leadership. I think having healthy, hard conversations, is one thing that separates leaders in life.
If someone has betrayed you, someone has stabbed you in the back, not kept their word, lied to you, bailed on your dream, or simply let you down. You need to say something to them.
What happens after this moment for you as a leader will determine a lot. I have watched my leadership stall out because of being weighed down by hurt and bitterness. This doesn’t mean that you pretend it didn’t happen or didn’t hurt, but if you have been wired as a leader and called to lead, fulfill that. Know that hits are part of the road. Difficulties will come. Don’t be surprised by them, and don’t let them take you out of the game.
Click here to read the original blog on JoshReich.org
Josh is the lead pastor of Revolution Church in Tuscon, Arizona. They are an Acts 29 church that exists to help people take their next step with God. His church and his writing flow out of this idea that we all have a next step to take with God. Josh is the author of Breathing Room: Stressing Less and Living More. He is also the creator of his blog, joshuareich.org, where he tackles lots of topics in leadership, personal and church health, and life.