This is Part 2 in a series on being "Misunderstood". If you missed Part 1, I suggest you read it first. You can find it HERE.
The feeling of being misunderstood can hurt - this idea that you've been unfairly represented or that what you've said or who you are has been misinterpreted. Especially if you're someone who desires integrity - that what people see is an honest picture of your true character - the thought of your character or your actions being called into question can wreck you. I don't think anyone would argue. But I'd like to submit to you that there's another reason we (as leaders, pastors, or simply just as humans) at times feel misunderstood, when in reality, that's not really what we're feeling at all. To put it this way, I think we can misunderstand being misunderstood.
This past weekend was significant in the life of our church. We affirmed our first 2 Elders. One of the reasons I am so stoked about this (other than the fact that it's the biblical model of church leadership) is because I do NOT desire to lead alone. While, as the Pastor, there's no denying that I am the chief visionary and leader of our church family, this does not mean that the Lord desires for me (or any other leader) to attempt to carry out or champion that vision alone. On a completely different note, I often bear a burden in prayer for our people - a burden to place them before God in prayer. I can't bear that burden alone. We aren't called to lead ALONE! And if we're being honest - taking a deeper look at the patterns of our actions - there are times that, because we've chosen to walk out on limbs by ourselves and place a gigantic target solely on our own chests - we wind up thinking that we've been misunderstood. And while that may be the case, the weight of what we're feeling and the burden we wind up being crushed under isn't really the feeling of being "misunderstood" at all. It's the painful, agonizing, isolating feeling of being ALONE.
I was once told (and have heard it said many times since) that as a leader, there are times you are going to feel "lonely", but you don't need to feel alone. If you're a person who believes God has given you a vision for taking and leading a group of people - especially if that group is the church - to an unknown, "never been there before" destination, there's no way around it being a bit lonely at times. No one else can see inside your head or fully understand all of what's wrapped up in your conviction. But here's the thing we've got to get clear on: Feeling lonely and being ALONE are 2 totally different things! Those times as a leader when I "feel" alone, I need to be able to lean on other leaders around me. I need people in my life who are fulfilling Galatians 6:2, sharing and bearing my "burdens, troubles, and problems". If you're a leader, you are NOT called to walk the road ALONE.
Don't make the mistake of feeling misunderstood when what you're really feeling is the (often) self-inflicted consequences of going it alone. If you start arrogantly thinking, "I'm just going to take a bullet for the team!", get off your high horse and realize that you're not doing anyone any favors or any good, especially yourself. You weren't called to take one for the team, you're called to LEAD the team...together!
Is there a chance you've thought you were misunderstood, when what you really were was alone?