Door shut, blinds closed, headphones blaring, and no one should dare to disturb me.
I’m a 20-something millennial who doesn’t have time for your issues. I’m an efficient administrator who has tasks more important than our conversation. By the way, I’m openly introverted — you know it — so get the hint, I don’t want to talk to you.
When you find me outside of my office, I’m far too busy getting things ready for the upcoming event. When you glance over after services and see me talking to teenagers, let me be, because they get me more than you ever will.
After all, who needs relationships with people? You do your thing, and let me do my thing. Point blank.
Man, what a bad attitude for someone whose job exists for people, huh?
As I was sitting in my former pastor’s office one day, he asked me what my biggest weakness was. As I eluded eye contact, I told him that I hated people. This proceeded one of my many rants about why I hated people, their attitudes, motives and mannerisms.
He quickly pointed out that being a pastor, we’re in the business of people. Everything rises and falls on people. Still, I didn’t care. I went about my normal routine and neglected people.
One Sunday as we were en-route to church, I looked at my wife and told her that I felt no one cared about us at our current church. Being naive enough to see that maybe I was the problem, I decided to play a game. I purposely didn’t say a word to anyone on Sunday — I wanted to see who struck a conversation with me.
No one did. They walked past me. I walked past them. “Psssst, I told you,” I internally muttered.
Days formed into weeks, weeks into months, months in a couple of years, and my attitude grew. I hide my open hatred for people with my strengths to work hard, work efficiently and communicate well. I boasted about being introverted, hoping it gave the excuse to others that I was born this way and didn’t desire companionship.
A rude awakening that changed my life
My wife and I left our previous staff positions to serve at another church. We met with our new Pastor, Den Hussey, a few times prior to the move. We knew Pastor Den and often admired him from a distance as he began mentoring us months prior. From our casual conversations we all knew each other from a distance, but we were unaware of those big weaknessess.
As we anxiously sat talking with Pastor Den and the student pastor, we started dreaming. We identified our purpose, gifts, and roles in our new journey. As we vision cast, laughed, and consumed a ton of coffee, it happened.
Yes, my hatred for people was brought up. I felt I handled the situation well, making the usual joke to introduce how I was.
It was sort of like one of those moments when everyone is laughing and the mood is good and I slipped in with the good ole, “So, just so you know, um … I hate people.” Hoping everyone would agree that deep down they didn’t like people either, we could move on and change the world together.
Yeah, that didn’t happen. Pastor Den, chuckling, glanced over and said, “Yeah, we’re going to work on that.”
Did we ever. In our first official staff meeting, my pastor said the top priority of my focus at our church is to love people again. It wasn’t my administrative skills, the growth track I would lead or the occasional messages I would preach. It was to love people again.
Shortly after this meeting, I accepted a job to purposely stretch me out of my comfort zone. I would be interacting with people 8-10 hours per day. Even funnier, I would be dealing with disgruntled people with the desire to turn their experience around and create a positive relationship.
As I was driving into work one day, I was upset. I had my typical yelling conversation at God. I fussed that I couldn’t be in the church office working. I fussed that I couldn’t put my headphones in, listen to music, and “do my thing” to serve my church.
When I calmed down, the Holy Spirit reminded me of my purpose and focus — to love people again. As much as I didn’t want to admit it, God was doing an internal work inside of me.
My boss (at my other job) recently conducted an evaluation of our effectiveness in our jobs. He mentioned that I was the best communicator and facilitator of interaction with people in the entire branch — a natural people person, he said.
I laughed. Part of me wanted to cry.
I hated people for so long. I was annoyed with them. I was disgusted with their intentions. Deep down I knew as a pastor this wasn’t normal. I knew eventually I had to change. I knew this was a hindrance. But, now I see people as an opportunity. An opportunity to hear their story, develop a relationship, and grow closer together.
I guess I don’t hate people anymore.
As leaders we have at least one giant area of weakness.
It took me to leave a job in my comfort zone to grow out of it. I’m 100 percent convinced if I went from one church office to another that nothing would have changed in my life. For you, it might not be shifting jobs or churches, but it might be some other component or adjustment you can make.
I never want to be average. God doesn’t want you to be average. I want to conquer weaknesses and be the best leader I can be. I know you want the same.
Identify your weakness and develop a strategy to overcome it. If I can do it, I promise you that you can as well!