Getting Comfortable with Disappointing People
Jesus more than once disappointed people.
- They thought He came to overthrow the Romans and reestablish Israel’s governmental rulership
- In Luke chapter 12 He refused to referee a dispute between two brothers regarding their father’s inheritance.
- Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The crowds thought He would take over politically and set things right. He didn’t.
I’ve heard more than one pastor tell me the reason they overwork is they don’t want to disappoint people.
It begs the question, “why?” Why do pastors, ministry leaders, even business owners find themselves in moments where they’re deathly afraid to disappoint people? What drives such unrealistic (and unhealthy) behavior?
A misguided understanding of leadership
Our job as a leader is to . . . lead. To lead people where God wants them to go, even when they don’t want to go there. If Jesus occasionally disappointed people—and He was perfect—how can we imperfect leaders think we won’t occasionally do the same?
For most of my pastoral ministry, I was a serial people-pleaser. I wanted to be liked, affirmed, thought of as a “good guy.” Proverbs says “The prudent man sees danger ahead and takes refuge.” Leadership fueled by people-pleasing and insecurity is anything but prudent.
At times it seems as though this “I’m afraid to disappoint people” mentality has reached epidemic proportions in the leadership world. What can we do about it? How do we get more comfortable with this idea that sometimes, people will be disappointed with us?
- Remember Who we belong to – we have responsibility to the people we lead—integrity, compassion, courage, etc. But we have a larger responsibility to Jesus.
- Figure out what’s broken on the inside of us – what wounds are we carrying from our past that cause us to fear disappointing people in the present? We’ll likely need the help of a counselor, mentor, or coach to help us here.
- Be realistic – If Jesus let people down . . . if perfection disappointed people, we must accept the reality that we occasionally will too.