Jeff Bogue, president of CE National and lead pastor of Grace Church of Greater Akron, gives tips and advice for leading your church and ministry well.

Hurting People Hurt People

The phrase we use a lot is, “hurting people hurt people”. That’s not original to me but it is something that was shared with me years ago and is certainly true. When we’re leading, you’re going to run into people who are hurting.

You’re a shepherd. The sheep are going to get hurt and wounded. When you go to them, sometimes those hurting people will lash out at you. I’ve had to learn that through the years. I’ve had to learn not to take it personally. I’m probably just the person in front of them at that moment. They’re not normally talking to me as a person, they’re talking to me as a leader that they think of as a figure-head.

When you are trying to lead someone who is hurting, don’t look at them, look through them. Look and see what they’re actually saying, why they’re actually acting the way that they are. Why they’re not themselves. The question isn’t, “Why are you being a jerk.” The question is, “What’s going on? Why are you hurting? What’s happening in your life?”

Sympathize and be compassionate. Whatever they’re feeling you have felt. We have to remember that. We all have hurt people. I like to say that what we do best is sin against each other. It comes naturally, the Bible says. We all hurt each other.

When I see a kid, a friend, or whoever is lashing out like that, I have to remember I’ve been there and done that. Move towards that person not away from them. Be present in their life. Be somebody they can lean on.

Give hope. Maybe a little bit of advice about how to move forward or adjust their thinking. Usually we use way too many words when we’re talking to somebody. Maybe a little bit of council, but mostly hope. “I love you” “I care for you” or “I’m praying for you” goes a lot further than a big life lesson at a moment like that. Maybe later on you can have that conversation but in that moment reach out and connect with them.

Often what happens is the intensity comes down. When the intensity comes down the conversation goes up. When the conversation goes up the relationship starts to solidify. Hurting people hurt people but we want to love and lead them through that