Last night, at our men's connect group, the session material segued into some group assessment time. This week was on exhibiting grace and truth in our lives and how we see ourselves as falling to either side of the spectrum. So we also talked about what the group itself needs to work on as far as it relates to that.
This didn't last long.
There wasn't much of a "well, here's what's wrong, here's what we could do better, etc etc."
Instead it was just the opposite. Everyone was bursting with compliments of how good the group was going. These guys were excited. They were talking about how much they've grown in just these short months together, how they're growing closer to God and each other every week, etc. And then things took a bit of a personal turn to me, the comments started to become "this wouldn't have been possible without your leadership", "thank you so much for doing this with us", and the big "we seriously have the best group leader at NPC."
I didn't really know what to do.
I got embarrassed.
And it was pretty obvious...and they mentioned it...and I tried to casually blow it off as "I'm just not good at receiving compliments."
I mean, I am freaking stoked that the group is going well. And I do agree with them that we seem to be going along really great. People are constantly coming out of their shells in the conversations, there are breakthroughs happenings, realizations occurring, serious/painful growth, and I can't thank God enough for it! It's awesome to see, and it's great to experience. I am a huge enthusiast in the power of small groups....or else I probably wouldn't be doing what I am in the first place.
But...the feedback was a bit of a problem.
I tried to downplay it, say I'm not good at receiving compliments, etc. All from some position of embarrassment (which I was) and humility...which I'm not so sure about.
I think my problem is that I don't think I'm humble. At all. I am absolutely full of pride.
My real problem with receiving the compliments...is that I want the compliments. A part of me wants the recognition.
I want to feel validated, I want to feel important, I want to know that I'm doing a good job, that I'm making a difference, that I'm helping, that I'm doing this/that/the other.
See the problem in that statement? I'll give you a hint, it's 1-letter long and starts with "I."
I have this fear that my motivation for doing things like leading connect groups, volunteering, being involved in ministry is false. I have a fear that I'm false. That I'm a fraud.
I have a fear that my motivation for doing these things isn't to do them in the name of God, or do them to advance Jesus or any other phrase in here that means that same thing. I have a fear that the reason I am so passionate about these things, and feel the need for validation is because I'm really doing them for me.
I don't know if that's true....but I'm afraid it is at times.
And so when I receive the positive feedback that reinforces what I'm doing, I get nervous. I have to play it down, because I can feel the pride swelling and I really don't want to be full of myself. Because it isn't about me or what I'm doing or what I'm capable of.
So I hear those things that I think I wanted to hear in the first place...and it turns out that I don't want to hear them. Because what it really reinforces is my own fear. Each one creates an echo in my mind, and I play it over and over. And simultaneously each statement creates a great feeling of accomplishment and of utter failure.
I think I used to be much worse about this...I do think I'm getting better.
Until I count how many times I used the word "I."