The Number One Way Leaders Get Derailed

Recently, I wrote about how leaders must learn to handle criticism and overlook offenses. I think this is the number one way that leaders can get derailed and rendered ineffective.

Shimei cursing David as he flees from Absalom (see 2 Samuel 16)

Shimei cursing David as he flees from Absalom (see 2 Samuel 16)

A few days ago, I ran into a story in reading the Desert Fathers, that illustrated the point beautifully:

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A brother came to see Abba Macarius the Egyptian and said to him, “Abba, give me a word, that I may be saved.’ So the old man said, ‘Go to the cemetery and insult the dead.’ The brother went there, hurled insults and stones at them; then he returned and told the old man about it. The latter said to him, ‘Didn’t they say anything to you?’ He replied, ‘No.’

“The old man said, ‘Go back tomorrow and praise them.’ So the brother went away and praised them, calling them Apostles, saints and blessed people. He returned to the old man and said to him, ‘I have complimented them.’ And the old man said to him, ‘Did they not answer you?’ the brother said, ‘No.’

“The old man said to him, ‘You know how you insulted them and they did not reply, and how you praised them and they did not speak; so you, too, if you wish to be saved must do the same and become a dead man. Like the dead, take no account of either the scorn of others or their praises, and you can be saved.’”

Note: In the language of the fathers, the phrase “be saved” should be understood as “be sanctified.” They had a much more expansive view of salvation than we moderns. It included conversion, sanctification, and glorification.

So next time you are offended, take these four action steps:

  1. Acknowledge to yourself that you were offended. There’s no sense pretending. It hurts to be offended. You can’t transcend what you don’t acknowledge.
  2. Remind yourself that being offended is a choice. You don’t have to be offended. One of the things that makes you uniquely human is you have a choice how you can respond to what happens to you.
  3. Remember that you are dead to these things. If you are a Christian, St. Paul says, “you are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God” (see Colossians 3:3). You don’t have to obsess about these things and let them consume your thinking.
  4. Forgive the other person and let it go. This is literally what the Greek word apoluo. It means: “to set free, to release, to pardon a prisoner or release a debtor.” As someone once said, “holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

Effective leaders have learned to overlook offenses. They are mindful of Solomon’s admonition: “The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression.” (Proverbs 19:11)

Question: What are you learning about taking “no account of the scorn of others or their praises”? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://findinggodsfingerprints.wordpress.com/ Erica McNeal

    What verses do you find “apoluo”?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      It is actually one of several words translated “to forgive.” Check out Luke 6:37. See also this page for a full description of the Greek terms.

      • http://findinggodsfingerprints.wordpress.com/ Erica McNeal

        Awesome, thanks – was just looking it up on a lexicon. That page will be really helpful. Need to find out if I need to remove my blog post from yesterday! =)

        • http://findinggodsfingerprints.wordpress.com/ Erica McNeal

          The way I read it, was to make make pardon and “forgetting” synonymous; that’s not the case!

  • http://twitter.com/williemacster William McPherson

    I always remind myself that I have offended plenty of people for all the wrong reasons! So, when people offend me I think of that and how many times I have personally offended God and I am sobered from my tyrannical anger-drunk tirade. Good thoughts, Michael.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      This is a great perspective—and biblical (especially Ecclesiastes 7:21–22)! Thanks.

  • http://www.JanetOberholtzer.com Janet Oberholtzer

    Great stuff in here for offenses and other things – thanks!
    Acknowledge the issue …
    We have choices …
    Let it go …

  • Anonymous

    John 2:24 gives Jesus response to the crowd’s hollow praise:

    “But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.”

    Perhaps the skill needed is to hear criticism and praise but to “not entrust” ourselves the crowds to make the final assessment of our worth. That might be the detachment we need to glean the truth out of the praise and criticism without losing our bearings.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Wow. This is a profound thought. Very helpful. Thanks!

    • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

      Really good! Thanks for sharing!

  • http://twitter.com/Juanbg Juan

    Great post Mike,
    It is like right at that moment becoming awake, being there, if it like you are seeing you! and then let it go, pray silently on Christ!
    Most of the times we just react to things, specially offences, we take them full front without even thinking that getting offended is a choice, a choice where we have control on it.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      It is challenging to discipline yourself to pause before responding and CHOOSE your response. But it is so necessary.

  • Jay

    “Remind yourself that being offended is a choice.”

    I’m not so sure of this, in every case. Some things are incorrigibly offensive across the board. But in the situations of which you’re most likely talking this may not be the case, so who knows?

    • http://modernservantleader.com/ Benjamin Lichtenwalner

      Jay, my initial reaction this statement was similar to your own. However, I think he’s right. It may be a nuance, but I’ve learned we can not control our feelings – but we can control how we respond to those feelings. I think that’s Michael’s point. We may feel offended, but “…you have a choice how you can respond to what happens to you.”

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      My point is the same as Viktor Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning: You cannot always choose what happens to you. But you can always choose how you respond to what happens to you. This is the privilege—and the responsibility—of being human.

  • Julie Kolb

    Probably the most profound thing I’ve read this week. You don’t, necessarily, need to be a leader, per say, to take this to heart. Excellent.

    • http://modernservantleader.com/ Benjamin Lichtenwalner

      Great point Julie. Yet, we are all leaders in some form.

      • Julie Kolb

        Yes, exactly..Thanks, Benjamin

    • http://peterpollock.com Peter P

      Great point, Julie.

      We all get offended at times, whether it’s in a leadership situation or not, and this advice can help us all in every part of our lives

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Julie. I appreciate that.

  • http://LiveIntentionally.org @PaulSteinbrueck

    Interesting… I remember a book written by Tim Irwin… something about CEOs that were DERAILED… Trying to remember the publisher… ;) http://ow.ly/3TOWe

    • http://twitter.com/doughibbard Doug Hibbard

      I seem to remember the same book….and where I got my copy of it, too.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Ha! I reviewed it, too.

  • Ian Eugene

    I like what you have here but I am concerned that your article does not give guidance about confronting or dealing with people who are determined to spread lies or even to deliberately injure you. I believe in forgiveness, forbearance and absorbing the blows of another, loving one’s enemies, etc, but do we ever respond and seek to speak the truth in love? What you have here seems to promote an unhealthy passivity on the part of the leader. I am curious about your insights and that of others to this concern. Thanks for all the great stuff you share.

    • http://peterpollock.com Peter P

      Michael has written about that kind of thing before, but I can’t find his post(s) about it right now…

    • http://twitter.com/sfortier Sandy Fortier

      I am thinking the same thing too. I am running into this situation where I am feeling offended every day by one person. I have decided to work on letting things go, but shouldn’t I confront the person so i don’t have to work so hard?

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        I definitely this there is a place for confrontation. However, I don’t think it should come from the place of being annoyed, but from the place of standing for what the other person can become.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I do believe there is a place for confrontation. Matthew 18:15–17 makes that clear. But that’s another post.

      • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

        I can see that being another post by you…but yes, confrontation has to be made. Some things can not be let go. In order to be a successful leader, you have to address problems and fix them. After that, forgive and move on! :)

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  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    My learning about taking “no account of the scorn of others or their praises”:

    As I have already said in this column, when we are offended, the response can be “Value-the-Other-Person’s-Perspective” approach when we feel that it is constructive and healthy. But, when we can understand that it was made with malicious and evil intention, we can safely ignore the same. I believe that we should not be oversensitive in responding to criticisms. For it is said in Ecclesiastes 7:21-22 that, “Do not pay attention to every word people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you— for you know in your heart that many times you yourself have cursed others. “

    The unfortunate but unavoidable fact of the matter is offenses are going to come our way. When they do, it’s okay to admit that it hurts. However, we don’t have to get upset about it. We can choose to not be offended. It is better to remember that you should “bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” as spelt out by Colossians 3:13.

    I have already said this in one of my previous comments. I believe it is relevant here too.

    Again, one need to be careful while receiving praises because throughout bible we have instances of Israelites backsliding especially during the time of prosperityand fame.

  • Bwenman

    Once again, your posts are interesting and full of wisdom. If there is one caveat, I believe it is this – I think as leaders we have to overlook the offense, but find the truth in what we are supposed to learn from the situation. I don’t think we can dismiss criticism so much so that we don’t see the areas in our lives that we could make positive changes. Our friends may not always tell us the truth about how we are being perceived by others. Sometimes our enemies can give us a glimpse of what others may not be telling us. I still agree with your post, but I think we should then go to someone we trust and ask them if we should make any changes in the area that we were criticized. Just a thought……

    • http://modernservantleader.com/ Benjamin Lichtenwalner

      “Sometimes our enemies can give us a glimpse of what others may not be telling us.” – I like that and agree. It can be difficult, but helpful, to open up to insights from someone we consider an opponent.

      • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

        I agree, Ben. Sometimes we can be dead wrong. Then the blame game starts, usually with words like Stupid or Crazy thrown in for good measure. Phrases like They don’t listen usually means I’m not listening enough.

    • Lynette Sowell

      That is a really, really good point! Sometimes we need to see if there is a grain of truth in that criticism (interpreted as an offense, and maybe even intended to be an offense in some cases). A leader should never disregard the input of fresh eyes, even if that input comes in less than, um, polite or kind form.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I agree. Sometimes God speaks through Balaam’s ass. ;-) And we need to listen.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I agree. Sometimes God speaks through Balaam’s ass. ;-) And we need to listen.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I agree. Sometimes God speaks through Balaam’s ass. ;-) And we need to listen.

  • http://www.EntrepreneurCeo.com Business Growth

    Michael:

    I’m not typically a religous person – lapsed Catholic disease (I read your blog for the business topics which I find excellent!)

    However, when I read a thoughtful post such as this one it does make me stop and think about the simple but indspensible advice the Bible can always provide.

    I have learned to overlook and forgive to be sure…but not getting upset in the heat of the moment is still the hardest task I think we all face.

    Great post.

    • http://peterpollock.com Peter P

      Excellent response!

    • http://twitter.com/DanielBecerra Daniel Becerra

      So glad to see you write this!

    • http://www.cdenning.com Chris Denning

      Well said, I feel the same way. Getting upset in the moment is really hard to put away for sure.

  • http://fireandhammer.blogspot.com Dennis

    I had problems in dealing with offenses until my children learned how to speak. Children can say harsh things that they really do not mean. I have lost count of the times I have heard “dad you are mean” or even “dad I hate you.” I have also lost count of the times the words “dad you are awesome” were used to try to cajole me into giving in on something the kids want. As a parent I cannot give in to the temptation to lash out at the negative comments nor can I give in to allowing sugar coated comments to change my thinking. My focus must be on what is best for the family.

    Your post is one every parent should meditate on, asking God to give the grace needed to handle leading a family with wisdom.

    • http://modernservantleader.com/ Benjamin Lichtenwalner

      That is a great point, Dennis. One might add that often the harshest criticisms come individuals with maturity levels likened to those children.

      • http://fireandhammer.blogspot.com Dennis

        Benjamin, I had not thought of that but I think you are right.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That is a great application. I remember one of my daughters saying to me, “Dad, this is all your fault!” It slayed me to the core. But God intended it for good and used it in my life. Thanks.

  • http://modernservantleader.com/ Benjamin Lichtenwalner

    If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. -Matthew 10:14

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record player: to me, it’s about remembering who you serve. If you are offended by those you serve, it’s worth understanding the root of their scorn. This is not an exception to your steps, but perhaps a small addition, given the circumstances. However, if the offense comes from opposition, a single individual or someone outside the community you serve, the negativity should be as the dust you brush from your feet.

    Thanks again for sharing – great tips I must remember!

    • http://bladeronner.com Ron Dawson

      I think that is a great point Ben. Remembering whom you serve. Sometimes the people who offend or scorn you are a loud minority, but the overwhelming majority of people you serve love what you’re doing for them. They just don’t have the courage to stand up to the loud upstarts. Remembering that has helped me in times when I’ve been criticized by some whose values are less conservative than mine on forums where I’ve stated my thoughts on issues (e.g. the sexualization of women in media).

      Thanks for the “broken record” reminder. :)

  • Anonymous

    The key to all feedback is discernment. If you let it all roll off like water from a duck’s back you’re unlikely to grow and improve as a leader. “Duly noted” is an appropriate response to praise and criticism. Then, when I’m at a point when I can sit down and honestly assessment my own performance, I should consider the feedback of others. Perceptions are reality. One person call you a hypocrite doesn’t mean you’re a hypocrite. Consistent feedback/comments along those lines should give you pause, though (leveraging your example from a prior post).

    As a side note, when I started reading this post I thought you were going to offer advice on handling praise. It’s just as tricky, you know.

    • Ben

      I like your “Duly noted” response. A simple “Thank you” works for both praise and criticism, too.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Praise is, indeed, just as tricky. I agree.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Praise is, indeed, just as tricky. I agree.

  • http://www.thepoint-leah.blogspot.com Leah Adams

    I heard someone say once that the true measure of servanthood is how we react when we are treated like a servant by another person. Whew!! That was a cause to pause and consider my own heart.

    Great story!

    • http://modernservantleader.com/ Benjamin Lichtenwalner

      Leah – that is an awesome perspective that I will undoubtedly reuse in my writing on Servant Leadership. Do you know the original author or someone I may attribute that perspective to? If not, you get it though!

      • http://www.thepoint-leah.blogspot.com Leah Adams

        Benjamin ~ I think that statement was by Rick Warren in The Purpose Driven Life. Check out page 266.

      • http://www.thepoint-leah.blogspot.com Leah Adams

        The Lord taught me a lesson based on this quote in a very vivid manner. Here is the linke to my post about it. http://thepoint-leah.blogspot.com/2009/01/point-servant-wannabe.html

  • http://www.likeawarmcupofcoffee.com Sarah Mae

    It is very, very difficult. On one hand, I want to be receptive to wisdom, in the form of criticism or praise. On the other hand, I don’t want it to define me. While this post is great for everyone, I’m glad you aimed it at leaders because we can so easily be swayed for the good or bad depending on who we are listening to. As the host of the Relevant conference, I gratefully received some helpful advice from a fellow conference host. She said, “don’t listen to the spicy rice people (i.e. those who complain about anything, even the food – that the “rice was too spicy.” I’ve taken her advice to heart, and am very careful now about who I allow to influence me.

    But it is still tempting to take it all personally!

    • http://www.fbcgallatin.org Larry Yarborough, Jr.

      I agree 100% Sarah. I was changed after researching and bringing a message series on “forgiveness” last year. I realized the only way I could forgive and get over the bitterness was by relying on the Spirit who lives in me. My own will power just doesn’t cut it.

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      Great metaphor… the spicy rice people! I usually call them the thermostat people, the ones that complain when the thermostat is a half degree too low or too high. Solution… bring a sweater!

  • http://2020visiononline.org Josh Hood

    Being offended does nothing to the other person, but it hurts and hinders us. If we choose to be offended, we simply inflict ourselves further.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, like someone once said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to get sick.”

      • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

        So true…

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, like someone once said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to get sick.”

  • http://www.blissassociates.com Bill Bliss

    What a wonderfully true and practical post. When leaders become overly focused on processing and defending the criticism and the offenses thrown at them, (which will ALWAYS be there), they lose any momentum of pushing forward. When that happens, their effectiveness as a leader is severely limited and compromised. The practical suggestions for dealing with these events is so helpful.

    What I am learning about taking no account of scorn or praises is that if these comments matter to me as a leader, then my motives are misguided because I am either seeking the praise of others or seeking to avoid the scorn of others. In either case, I am really putting my needs ahead of the needs of those I lead – and that will have me (and those I am called to lead) fail every time.

    Thanks Michael.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      This is a great application. Thanks, Bill.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      This is a great application. Thanks, Bill.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      This is a great application. Thanks, Bill.

  • http://bladeronner.com Ron Dawson

    The #1 thing I’m learning about forgiveness is that, like you mentioned, it’s a choice. It’s very similar to the love that’s required in a successful marriage. You have to make a conscious choice to love your spouse, even when you don’t want to. It’s not JUST feeling. It’s work. A constant working every day.

    The same goes for forgiveness. You have to choose to forgive. You don’t just say, “I pardon you,” get a warm fuzzy, then go on about your life. You may have to daily make a choice to forgive, and do the things that help lead to forgiveness (e.g. no complaining about the other person to your friends, no going over the transgression again and again in your head, no rehearsing what you wish you could say to that person, etc.). In the best case scenario, you actually get the feeling that comes along with forgiveness. And you really can forget about it. Other times, you have to get up, pray for strength, then make the long hard walk of forgiveness that day.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    Being in the technology field, I can really relate to this, Mike. When things don’t work right on a users computer, people are quick to criticize. Sometimes the barbs are aimed at the machinery itself, other times it’s the technician, sometimes the entire department. I’ve learned to put myself in the users seat, and see things through their eyes.
    It’s easy to take offense when the barbs are coming fast and furious. Anytime we make the slightest change to a users machine, problems can arise. The problems really mount when there is a major change with a software vendor, such as the change from Office 2003 to Office 2007. People get frustrated, then mad, and then the insults come.

    Through these experiences over the years, I’ve learned three things.
    1. People don’t like change
    2. Just because I know it, doesn’t mean my users do
    3. Preemptive training and hands on tutoring can solve a myriad of problems

    While the problem may truly be a PEBCAC (problem exists between chair and computer), I can usually diffuse the situation quickly by actually sitting down with the person, and watching what they are experiencing. I’ve become a hero many times by cleaning a mouse, turning a keyboard over and dumping out the crumbs, or just turning the computer on. My skin has gotten a little thicker over the years, and I am a big advocate of training and doing screen shots for my users. It’s also why I advocate buying Apple products. The frustration level is MUCH lower! Worse case, when I have to work on an old PC, I just whisper PEITC (Problem exists in the computer) and point them to the nearest Apple store.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I agree about Apple. So much easier.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I agree about Apple. So much easier.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I agree about Apple. So much easier.

    • Carla Calvert

      Late to the party here – but just wanted to share our little acronym in dealing with folks like you described….we call them a “PICNIC”…..”Problem In Chair – NOT In Computer”….

      And I so agree with your three points…

      And agree with Mike’s post as well – wonderful words of wisdom….ah, if my skin were only as thick as my head is at times!

  • Michael

    Michael –

    Wonderful post, thank you for sharing the Abba’s wisdom and also sharing a window into the fullness of our Christian salvation — theosis.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Theosis is a beautiful concept.

  • Karl Mealor

    But should we confront those that have offended us?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Sometimes. Matthew 18:15–17 makes that clear. I hope to blog about that soon.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Sometimes. Matthew 18:15–17 makes that clear. I hope to blog about that soon.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Sometimes. Matthew 18:15–17 makes that clear. I hope to blog about that soon.

  • http://ashley.theworldrace.org Ashley Musick

    Loved the first blog on offenses, and love this illustration. These are great tips towards becoming un-offendable.

  • Domecia

    I think if more leaders understood this concept, there would be fewer barriers in our work environments and greater cooperation. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.cfgears.com Eric Cobb

    This post really touched on something that’s been on my mind lately. Thanks.

  • http://familysynergy.wordpress.com JD Eddins

    I think I deal with criticism better than I deal with praise. What I mean by that is that criticism rarely brothers me. I don’t dwell on it. However, I have a desire for praise. I want to be recognized for the work I do. There are times when that simply does not happen, and when it doesn’t the self doubt creeps in. So for me the application focuses on realizing that I am making the choice about how I feel.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I agree that praise can be as big an obstacle as criticism. The key is to recognize the trap for what it is and deal with it appropriately.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I agree that praise can be as big an obstacle as criticism. The key is to recognize the trap for what it is and deal with it appropriately.

  • http://twitter.com/doughibbard Doug Hibbard

    I’m learning to moderate both sides internally. Scorn is often expressed more viciously than intended and praise given that’s greater than is deserved!

    The whole idea of dealing with both internally and giving the person that has offended or praised you a simple ‘duly noted’ or ‘thank you’ is a good one. If you immediately react, you show that you can be pushed by the other person. When I was in fast food management, I tried to help a teenage boy at the restaurant learn to control his temper. I pointed out to him that the people that made him angry were controlling him, and he needed control himself. Otherwise, we have no place to lead others, since we cannot lead ourselves.

    • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

      Yep.

  • http://www.confessionsofalegalist.com Jeremy Statton

    One of the main points of Viktor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning,” is that no matter what anyone says or does to you, no matter how many freedoms are taken away, you will always have the freedom to choose how you will respond to your suffering.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I love that book. In fact, I referred to it today in a speech. Thanks.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I love that book. In fact, I referred to it today in a speech. Thanks.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I love that book. In fact, I referred to it today in a speech. Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/ChadEBillington Chad Billington

    Michael,
    Great article again. I’m sending it around to my team. Glad you mention watching out for praises, as they can be as dangerous to our souls as ridicule. The set us up thinking we are wonderful, and feed an appetite that yearns to obtain even more praise, making it disproportionately devastating when we are scorned or even fairly criticized.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I totally agree.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I totally agree.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I totally agree.

  • Matt Raithel

    “holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

    What a succinct way to drive that point home. Who is the “someone” that said it?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I don’t know. I tried to Google it, but couldn’t find a source.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I don’t know. I tried to Google it, but couldn’t find a source.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I don’t know. I tried to Google it, but couldn’t find a source.

    • Naomi

      I think that was Anne Lamott (I think she talked about not forgiving rather than holding a grudge)

  • Lynette Sowell

    I’ve read some of the other comments and I don’t feel I have anything extra add other than to say, very true. Leaders aren’t primarily in the people-pleasing business because that can’t be done with 100% success rate, or even close. Leaders do also get “set” in their ways of doing things and they can sometimes interpret any type of critique as an offense. Not always, but sometimes. That’s why it’s important to consider the source and also consider if there’s any truth masked deep inside that offense. And as you said, let that offense go–or at least the feelings that it conjures up. A leader shouldn’t let their emotions rule their decisions. That would be like being led by a 2 year old.

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  • Anonymous

    There is another great book out that talks about being easily offended. It’s The Bait of Satan by John Bevere. He says in the book, “Your response determines your future”. It’s so true. We have to thicken our skin, or as a mentor tells me, “Put your alligator skin on”.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, that is a great book. John is a friend.

  • http://relevantbrokenness.com Marni Arnold

    What am I learning from that story? Despite a good tap on the face in a wake-up call – I am learning my response to offenses really needs to be like water of a ducks back. Yes…like you state…acknowledge there was an offense – but don’t let it consume you and become a part of you.

    Yes…I am learning a lot from this one today, Mike…a lot. Thank you.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Marni. I am glad.

  • Terri

    What a great reminder, not only for leaders, but for Christians who want to be effective and continue to grow. Thank you.

  • http://www.marcusbrotherton.com Marcus Brotherton

    Michael, thanks for posts such as these. I’ve been a longtime random lurker on your blog, but have noticed the recent uptick in posting frequency, and just today added your blog to my “favorites bar,” with the intention of reading it every day. You are really producing quality content and information here. Thank you for your work. –MB

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Marcus. I really appreciate that. More than you know.

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    Great illustration! And your four steps are spot on! It’s sometimes so hard to do this completely though. I’ll be posting this above my desk as a reminder. Thanks!

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    Great illustration! And your four steps are spot on! It’s sometimes so hard to do this completely though. I’ll be posting this above my desk as a reminder. Thanks!

  • http://rumorsofglory.net/blog/ Lucille Zimmerman

    One of the most important things I ever learned — and as a counselor what I teach to my clients — is not to attach junk to yourself like Velcro or cat hair.

    It takes time, but by saying, “What is this person telling me about himself…and not me?” becomes a powerful tool. Usually the person is telling you so much about their negative place in life, their past experience, and who they are.

    Of course, it’s always wise to consider if you did do something wrong, but most times the personal attacks have nothing to do with you.

    So brush off the cat hair, peel off the Velcro (sometimes I make a physical gesture to do this) and move on.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      These are two great metaphors, Lucille. Thanks.

  • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

    I have been trying to teach this same concept to my 8-year-old son over the last few days. He will take something that someone says and make it into something bigger than it really is. He will then use that to feel really bad about himself; and, he will also use that to turn anger back towards other people.

    As I think about it, I think we all have a natural tendency to do this – to take what others say or do and make it all about us. Yes, sometimes people really are pointing out accurate details and sometimes they are just trying to be mean to you. However, I have learned that everyone has their own story their responses are very much colored by what they are currently going through.

    Isn’t it true … our comments and reactions usually have more to do with ourselves and our perspectives than with the other person??

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, so true. Often, people’s reactions to us have nothing to do with us.

  • http://peterpollock.com Peter P

    Excellent post, Michael.

    That’s a great illustration, one I’ve not heard before and yet it’s so perfect!

    Thank you.

  • Kevin Womack

    GREAT story! Thanks for sharing, Michael.

  • Gary

    I think your blog is applicable to real life as well as business leaders, but we are all leaders in some way. In any offense these same principles apply. If we are offended by way of divorce, arguments, etc, we should apply these same ideas.

  • Ramon Presson

    Great story and awesome post, Michael. I often take refuge myself in Paul’s word to the Corinthians ( 1 Cor. 4:3-4) in response to some questioning his validity as a bona fide apostle: “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.” One of the things I hear Paul saying is that “Given the SOURCE of the CRITCISM, (profound spiritual immaturity of the Corinthians) I’m not going to lose any sleep over your 1-star reviews of me.”

    One of the coming applications of this for me is that come April some people will love my new book and some will hate it (mostly because of the title). Must prepare myself for both. Must be careful to divide both praise and criticism by half instead of doubling both. OR doubling one and halving the other.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for the great reminder about this passage in 1 Corinthians 4. Awesome.

    • http://twitter.com/MacKinnonChris Chris MacKinnon

      I love that: “I’m not going to lose any sleep over your 1-star reviews.” It’s like a McDonald’s cashier complaining about the Hollandaise sauce at a gourmet restaurant.

  • dsprtlydpndnt

    Forgiveness, even unsolicited, is liberating to me! Great “story”. Is this really the #1 way leaders get derailed? I thought maybe FB, distractions…

    • http://twitter.com/sfortier Sandy Fortier

      It’s def #1 for me.

  • Ramon Presson

    On one occasion Napoleon was entering Paris in a triumphant parade following a military victory. One his lieutenants said, “Sir, why are you so solemn? The people are praising you.” Napoleon (who was not a Christ-follower, but was a fascinated student of Jesus’ life & teachings) said, “In slightly different circumstances these same people would as eagerly cheer me to the gallows.” Napoleon was likely thinking of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem among a fickle people who days later would call for his crucifixion.

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  • http://twitter.com/idelette idelette mcvicker

    I love the story of the Desert Fathers. Thank you. This whole post preaches!

  • http://www.gospellab.com Gospel lab

    This is a great post about being dead to the world.

    Sometimes it is not just the world; it is also ourselves.

    We should also be dead to ourselves and not think more highly of our self than we should.

    Sometimes it is the inner man that we struggle with more than the world. We can shut the world out, but the inner man is on the same side of the door as we are.

    That is why we should look more at the Man on the cross instead of the man in the mirror.

  • Joyce Lawrence

    As a 58 year old American woman, wife, and mother of two teenage boys, I have just realized, that I have not only taken account of the scorn of others (for 50 years now) but I have accumulated it, as in a big pile of dirt under my living room rug, only its been lying in my head wasting space for so long… breathing, seething, and keeping me from being a fuller human being, a better mother, a better wife. As to the praises of others, because I’ve always been aware of my own shortcomings, compliments have never gone to my head. Thank you for giving me the free space in my own mind to make my next 50 years powerful, positive, productive and worthwhile.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      May God grant you another 50 years!

  • Michael Paddy

    Is that not at the heart of both the Gospel and the Beatitudes…no matter what our status in life, the lofty praise or lowest insult…all should be placed on the mantle of the Lord’s redeeming grace….wonderful post Michael!

  • Mary C.

    I’m always enriched by your content, but this week has been especially reaching me where I am. Thank you!

  • TNeal

    Just an observation. You seem to be writing about more personal issues, closer to the soul, in your most recent blogs. I’m curious, and will find out at the end of the month, if you’ve noticed a greater response to these issues.

    Another observation as one who’s followed you the last couple of years, your weekly output has risen noticeably. Of course, if it hadn’t, I wouldn’t have noticed.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I think your observations are spot-on. I am trying to post five days a week, mainly because this has become my journal. People do seem to respond to the personal issues. I am trying to go first, sharing my own struggles, in order to give others the gift of going second. Thanks.

      • http://twitter.com/mrmarkmcdonald Mark McDonald

        Michael Please also know that many of respond to your personal sharing even if we don’t comment. I have implemented so much of your content yet I am only just getting into making comments after reading for almost a year.

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          Thanks, Mark. I know that is true.

  • http://twitter.com/DanielBecerra Daniel Becerra

    True. The enemy will use just about every method to prevent us from becoming sanctified. He will either use insults so we get offended and hold grudges, or he will use men’s praise so that we will lift ourselves up, and not Jesus.

    To answer your question, I believe prayer holds us accountable to God. It is on those moments of prayer that God warns us about being mindul of either scorns or praises.

  • Mark D.

    Thank you for taking the time to share with us. There is some wisdom here I should apply in my life–today.

  • http://www.DonnaPeruginiChildrensAuthor.com Donna Perugini

    When my children were young I wrote the book, DON’T HUG A GRUDGE. I always thought it was because of being inspired by my children’s behavior. Now I’m older and see that I wrote the children’s book because I’d lived it! Reading it every so often still brings me back to the truth.
    Thank you for your revealing posting.

  • http://jeffkclarke.com Jeff Clarke

    My only concern centers on one area of omission. Forgiveness is essential and your advice can prove to be helpful. However, I also think that sometimes criticism can hold some elements of truth that need to be mined and analyzed. While much of what was said may be easily dismissed as mere rhetoric, and while the method may have been highly negative and hurtful, sometimes truth statements can be taken from it. If we decipher those statements and take the necessary steps to implement them, we can become better people as a result. By automatically dismissing any and all criticism, we may actually miss an opportunity to grow.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That’s a fair point, Jeff.

  • http://twitter.com/mdmaurer MaDonna Maurer

    I can choose to be offended or not. I like this…I can acknowledge that I’ve been offended, then choose to not be and respond in love. Yep, I’d say I’m learning the art of “choosing” my responses.

  • Cassandra Frear

    Intriguing. I remember reading Watchman Nee — he wrote about this same idea. Mercy is life and breath to us, no matter what our calling. I believe that most sins are planted in the heart when forgiveness is lacking and a grudge of some kind is held. Keeping account of offenses seems to somehow lay a platform for other sins to develop.

  • http://twitter.com/mrmarkmcdonald Mark McDonald

    Wow this is so hard. I find it very hard to work with someone who has offended me. I am nice to their face but I find it very hard to trust them again. I usually pass leadership opportunities onto some else. Sometime I just need time in my cave to get over it.

  • Alisahopewagner

    Well, I totally needed this one today! I especially love #1. So many times I try to act like I haven’t been offended. It’s just better to admit my weakness and get on with it.

  • Erykhood

    AWESOME MESSAGE, FULL OF LIFE CHANGING TRUTHS !!!

  • http://twitter.com/MacKinnonChris Chris MacKinnon

    Ministry is a world full of offenses. Whether they are personal or professional, we have to let them go. I learned in my first ministry position that if I was going to hold on to anything I was going to end up searching for a different calling. In fact, confidence in the “call” is what kept me going.

    I think a key to this is know who you are, prepare and educate yourself, and do what you think needs to be done. We can’t be prideful, we have to be real; but we have to know ourselves and our God well enough to stand tall.

    Of course, as the story mentions, we have to learn to ignore the “praises” as well as the insults. That can often be more difficult.

  • PoulAndreassen

    It is amazing to know that there are articles like this on web..Great article

  • http://catalystspace.com Jesse Phillips

    Holy Crap! Good stuff!!!! THANK YOU Michael, this will literally change my life. Thank you.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Now that is an enthusiastic response.

  • Jeff Jones

    I wrote on my blog the other day that I am most thankful that God doesn’t operate on the “fool me once, shame on you but fool me twice, shame on me” way of thinking. Not that I could fool God but I have given him reason to hold me at arm’s length. Fortunately, he doesn’t so why should I treat people any differently?

  • Tom Moucka

    Thanks Mike – excellent word. I haven’t spent time with the Desert Fathers in years. My bad.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I am astonished every time I read them. I wish I did a better job of doing it regularly.

  • http://somewiseguy.com Some Wise Guy

    This is solid stuff.

    I recently had a situation where I had been verbally insulted and (remembering your post) instead of getting all worked up decided not to take offense and just let it go.

    The result: the individual came over to my desk to apologize for their behavior and our working relationship has improved.

    Thank you. It works.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Good for you. This is a great testimony.

  • http://www.bradfarris.com/ Brad Farris

    I know I’m late to the party with this comment, but I spent some time thinking about it. There was a turning point for my leadership when I realized that I wanted criticism, it’s valuable to me. Now not all criticism is valuable, sometimes the person is uninformed, or projecting issues onto me that aren’t coming out of me; but more times than not there is something there that I need to hear. When you are a leader people tend to tell you things that will make you feel good, or be happy, and if I find someone who will tell me the truth (my wife, my small group, certain peers) I hold on to what that person is telling me. I value it highly.

    What I’m saying is that I still have a long way to go to be the best that I can be, and critics are often the fodder to push me to achieve more, do better, and get better results.

    I’m thinking I need to work on a blog post about this for my own blog…

    • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

      True…there will be people that encourage you by criticism and there will be those that bring you down from flattery… true friends with be contructive!

  • http://twitter.com/manyhatsmommyMI Jenny Herman

    What a fantastic story–thanks for sharing! Sadly I have observed in others how holding on to offenses can ruin them. By God’s grace I am learning to let go.

  • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

    Great post, Michael!

  • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

    Hey Michael!

    I meant to ask you- does technorati do anything to improve your site? I recently signed up, but I’m not sure if it really does anything? Hoping you could give me what you think about it… Thanks!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I really don’t think so. I got excited about it a few years ago, but I don’t think it has moved the needle.

  • Eric Speir

    Great post! Many of us often think that this kind of problem does not apply to us because we assume that we are forgiving people. It’s only when we are offended by someone that we are reminded of how human we really are! To be human is to get offended by someone :)

  • http://www.cdenning.com Chris Denning

    I think that Step 3 is where I have the hardest time. I have a hard time letting things go when no justice is guaranteed. When, in actuality, God has already claim justice for himself in all things. I think it comes down to a prideful heart, and not being ok with being wronged. Recognizing this pride and deciding that I’m dead to it and hid within Christ, is definitely the way to address it. Well said.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Chris. I think following Jesus example is also helpful: “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: ‘Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth’; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:21–23).

  • Wayne Hedlund

    I just started following your blog about two weeks ago and have really appreciated your great wisdom and content. This article rings so true. I’ve heard it said that unforgiveness is letting someone else live inside you – rent free. How sad that we can so easily imprison ourselves in that way.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That is a great quote. I have added it to my Quote Notebook in Evernote.

  • Svt1999

    Very Cool… I’m glad I found your blog!!

    Steve
    Common Cents
    http://www.commoncts.blogspot.com

  • Shannon Lewis

    Heard this at ReCreate11 and was attempting to share it with my wife. That’s for posting this in your blog! Sad I didn’t actually meet you. Maybe next year.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I hope so. I plan to be there. This years Re:create was the best ever!

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    I had no idea Abba was mentioned in the Bible. Must be the Swedish edition.

    The question arises whether Abba is suggesting that we should ignore all feedback as if we were dead.

  • http://goinswriter.com Jeff Goins

    I really enjoyed hearing you teach on this at re:create this past week, Michael. Good stuff – thanks for sharing.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Jeff. I saw you a coupe of times but didn’t get to say high. I also enjoyed your guest post on Randy’s blog and your video shorts from the conference.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Jeff. I saw you a coupe of times but didn’t get to say hi. I also enjoyed your guest post on Randy’s blog and your video shorts from the conference.

  • Paul Pierquet

    Thanks Michael. I needed to read this.

  • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

    Out of curiosity (but hopefully not too off-topic) have you read Gene Edwards’ Tale of Three Kings? The post reminded me of some of the application points I picked up from that book, particularly point three.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I have, but it was years and years ago. I need to re-read.

  • http://www.thehahnhuntinglodge.com Nikole Hahn

    That’s a tough lesson for me to learn. It’s a work in progress. When people anger me I tend to hold onto that for a little while, not forever, but long enough. It dwindles down to annoyance eventually whenever I see them. What I need to learn as a leader is that I CANNOT change people. God can, but I CANNOT. What I need to learn is patience, long suffering, and to hold onto a gentle spirit.

  • William Seidman

    I think this is a very insightful post. We have developed a number of leadership programs based on the idea of “positive deviant” leaders. “Authenticity” is always a key element of being an effective leader. Authentically understanding and acknowledging to yourself that you are offended appears to be a key attribute of leadership.

    But how to best handle a feeling that can be incredibly powerful? In his new book “Your Brain at Work,” David Rock discusses the neuroscience of “re-appraisal” which I think is more commonly referred to as “reframing.” The key to handling offense is to reframe it away from being a personal attack to just an event, and to look for and connect with the underlying reason for the offense. Authentically doing just these few things can make a big difference is being an effective leader.

  • Becky

    Great post! The difficulty with forgiving someone is so hard, but there seems to be peace. I really enjoy your insight on this. I’d love to read more on this topic.

    I recently stumbled upon another blog like I stumbled upon yours and I really appreciated their insight. I thought you might enjoy it: http://burisonthecouch.wordpress.com/2010/11/17/forgiveness/

    I’d love to see more like it. Thanks!

  • Eleanorswan

    Sir, I thank you for the kind sharing of your God given knowledge to help us as leaders to be effective in the Kingdom. I am inspired and am ready to pass on the knowledge. Thank you and God bless you.

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  • http://www.strategicplanningforgrowth.co.uk/ Jane Bromley

    Great article. Thank you.
    The choice part is so key. After all, if we choose to take offence it does not good at all and generally the only person we hurt by doing so is ourselves!

    I read something similar a while ago. It said “What people think of you is none of your business”.

    The forgiveness part can be tough. A guy called Bijan helped me there. He tells a great story of how someone cut him up as he was driving. He realised afterwards that in the past he had done something similar. So, by forgiving this other driver he had a chance to forgive himself too.

    Jane

  • Emma-Lee

    Unforgiveness…having things fester only to see them affect decisions and actions later on. I see that everyday in my workplace and Church…very unfortunate. Thank God that I have chosen to learn from others for my own good.