You can choose to agree on this or not....but I believe that we all have a common confession in our lives. In fact, I believe it is something we will find ourselves confessing often. I have had to make this confession to my wife, my kids, my family, my friends, my co-workers, my employees and even my entire church. What is it????
I have a tendency to be nice and not kind.
What does that mean? It means I am selfish and I want people to like me. For definition's sake...being nice means I tell you anything that will make you happy. I tell you what you want hear in order to get your approval and affirmation. In other words, I lie to people so they will like me. Being kind means I love you enough to tell you the truth, even if it is painful or unpopular. Kind means I am more concerned with you hearing truth, than you liking me. In summary; when I am nice it's about me and when I'm kind it's about others.
Sociologist Erving Goffman stated in his 1959 article "Presentation of Self in Everyday Life" that the "most pervasive human need is to impress others". Whether you agree with all of Goffman's writings and research, I know personally that this statement is absolutely true. Just stop and listen to any conversation, even to my own. We always seem to be in the process of impressing others. We do this is describing our lives, our families, our jobs and our dreams.
What drives all of this? I believe what drives this is something we are warned about in scripture. We are led by fear. We are fearful of what other people think. We find our self worth and value in the opinions of others. As a result, we are fearful of rejection and ridicule. The result is sin! The Bible has something simple to say about this. "The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that." (Proverbs 29:25)
The reality is that when I let nice win over kind, my integrity suffers. When I choose for you to like me, instead of trusting that God liking me is enough, I hurt others. As a leader and pastor, it is my heart to be kind to you, not nice. But I often fail. I often am more concerned with my self than with others. And, I confess to you that this is wrong. As a matter of fact, if my being nice has affected you, I want to ask for your forgiveness. Please accept my apology as a messy and broken man.
As leaders, as individuals, we must recognize the messy and broken parts of our lives first. Then, and only then, are we able to love and serve other messy and broken people.