As promised, here is my post about people-pleasing.
Although I had spent considerable time in therapy and in recovery groups working on my people-pleasing obsession and establishing boundaries, it wasn't until I was thrown into the task of leading mission trips that I really had to put into practice the things I had learned in therapy.
Oh, I had practiced them before that, but being in a leadership position brought about a whole new level of learning. I say I was "thrown" into the task. That's not really fair. I chose it, but it was not something I would have ever chosen without good reason because it is not a comfortable fit for me.
I didn't particularly like the idea of being in a position of leadership. And there was that thing of worrying about what others would think, if they would think me too bossy, not bossy enough, or just simply inadequate. Heaven forbid that someone wouldn't like me.
Still, I felt this was what I was supposed to do.
I've discovered that when you are in a position of leadership, whether it's a church thing or a civic thing, you are a target. Anytime something doesn't please someone, you are the one blamed. And since an awful lot of folks are not mature enough to deal with their complaint face-to-face by coming to me directly (something I've always welcomed and encouraged), they tend to talk about me behind my back.
I have overheard team members talking about me when they had no clue that I was on the other side of the door and could hear what they were saying - and they were not passing out compliments. I've been told that one man went to a party and aired his complaints and opinions about me in front of everyone - and again, they were not positive opinions. Thankfully there are only 2 or 3 people who have resorted to things like this and I've learned that those kind of people generally hang themselves. Everyone has their number and few take them seriously. I've discovered that I can overlook the obvious jerks and just let them show their behinds.
But those things do hurt. The 2005 Trip was the worst. I've often referred to it as the trip from Hell. At one point on that trip I cried for 3 hours because of the stress of dealing with one lady that was not happy about much of anything. And at another point in that trip I said I would never do another trip. Obviously, I have done other trips.
The criticism that has hurt the most is the accusation that I'm too controlling. I hate that one for two reasons, (1) because it's a trait I can't stand in other leaders, and (2) because I have done a lot of soul-searching and asking other people who I trust in an attempt to check it out and have come to the conclusion that I'm not too controlling. I have had to come to the place where I realize that some people thing that all control is bad control. When you are trying to get 20 - 30 people to work together to accomplish a common goal, someone has to be "in charge". Someone has to make the final decisions and someone has to see that things get done. If it were all a group concensus, it would be chaos and it's doubtful anything would get accomplished. I've had to realize that a truly controlling person controls out of a self-serving desire or motivation. I can honestly say that I have no such motivation.
I've learned too that just because someone says it, it doesn't mean its true. I've learned to consider the person and whether they themselves may have an issue that they are projecting onto me. That happens.
It's sad that when you're trying to do a good thing people allow their own "stuff" to get in the way and make the job far more difficult than it needs to be. The thing that really bothers me is that it has the potential to hurt the work that God is trying to do. It hurts for someone to say mean things about me, but it is a far more serious thing for them to say things that have the potential to damage the missions effort.
And now we're getting ready for our 4th trip and I am sure there will be more opportunities for me to grow in this area. And I am still growing and learning. I am still a people-pleaser at heart who wants people to like them. In fact, the fact that some person responded to my post below by giving an anonymous and mean-spirited comment will probably bug me a whole lot more than I wish it would. But I have come a LONG way. In fact, ten years ago I would not be able to do what I do today - at all.