A number of years ago I was leading a group of men that met weekly in my home. Before one eye-opening conversation, I thought I was doing quite well in leading, challenging and encouraging these men. I was feeling chipper, confident and proud of the way the group was going. Until, that is, one of the men asked me the following question:
“Dave, do you ever struggle with anything in your walk, family and ministry?”
I immediately assured him that I do. He then asked me why I never shared any of my problems or struggles. I was completely taken aback by both the question and the realization that I shared hardly any of the issues that I deal with on a daily basis.
He went on to say (and, to my chagrin, the others agreed) that he could not identify with me because I was giving the impression that everything was going perfectly for me. It dawned on me then, and became increasingly clear and convicting as the days went by, that I intentionally kept my pain, failures, mistakes and struggles to myself for at least two reasons:
- I wanted them to think well of me and thought they would not if they knew what I battle and struggle with.
- I felt they had enough things going on in their own lives and didn’t need my issues to compound the situation.
I would say that this particular evening, and that specific question, was a huge turning point in my being open, vulnerable and willing to let it all hang out. I found that the opposite was true. They respected me more, began to open up and share at a deeper level and could more identify with me.
Here is the lesson I began to learn on that night and continue to learn (as I still have a tendency to hide my issues, due to my own insecurities.)
The lesson: If you want to impress people share your successes. If you want to impact them, share your failures.