Updated: Oct 21, 2020
It was another work day except I was terrified this day.
My heart was pounding, palms sweating, and mind racing as I thought to myself, "Are you sure, Dustin? Will you later regret this? Isn't there any other way to do this?"
I did my best to paste on a smile as I headed into the office and greeted my coworkers. I sat at my desk with a pit in my stomach and quietly let the tears begin to flow.
I had been working in my dream job for eight years. I loved working with my phenomenally talented and passionate coworkers - many of which became like family.
I knew what I had to do.
Even if it hurt.
Even if others wouldn't understand.
Even if I didn't fully understand.
I knew what I had to do.
I went to my supervisor's office and shut the door. "I need to speak with you," I said in a less than confident voice. After a few minutes of open conversation, I finally said what I never thought I'd say, "I have to quit working here." I'll never forget what happened next. My supervisor stood up and gave me a hug saying, "I love you, Dustin."
I began to sob at the realization that my time in my dream job had come to an end.
My supervisor cared for me as a person, not just an employee! His actions validated a truth I've always questioned,
"Am I loveable even if I do not perform or meet the expectations of others?"
Do you wonder if your supervisors or coworkers would accept you if you stopped working with them? If those closest to you would accept you if they knew everything about you? I did for years. It's a lonely place to be.
A life lesson was sprouting that day. A mentor of mine from Faithful and True told me,
Who you are amidst the crowd matters infinitely more than the size of the crowd.
As a Christian and Pastor, I knew, "Yes, of course, character matters." But I spent much time consumed by what others thought about me and my performance (my reputation) than I did about who I was when no one was looking (my character). I allowed the worship of a "bigger mission and purpose" to push out time needed to develop my character. The excitement and allurement was intoxicating. I loved being well-known, well-liked, and successful in a growing organization.
I spent more time consumed by what others thought about me than I ever did about who I was when no one was looking!
I hate to admit it, but at times my attitude had become, "what would they do without me? I cannot give up because the mission is too great." There is a problem with this thinking. We make ourselves bigger, better, and more important than God himself. Do you really think you are that special? I did. Do you think God needs you or me to build and grow His church? He chooses to use us but He doesn't need us. He loves us but is not dependent upon us to accomplish His mission and purposes.
Have you ever found yourself thinking any of the following:
What would my staff do without me?
I cannot give up because of the impact we are making.
What will happen to what I built when I am gone?
What will life look like if I obey God's way of living?
What will others think about me if I am no longer here?
Don't get lost in the crowd. There will always be someone bigger better faster than you.
How we treat the Walmart employee or our family behind closed doors is a direct reflection of our character. Your position and status are irrelevant! Whether you lead a large organization, build a small business, or give your best as an employee of another business, your character (who you are when no one is looking) matters most! In John Maxwell's book, "The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth," he describes the importance of character in the Law of the Ladder.
The Law of the Ladder says, "Character growth determines the height of your personal growth."
Our character can be a limiting factor in our own personal and professional growth. The most talented persons can implode without the integrity of character to stabilize them.
The good news, we all have a choice and can make a change anytime we want. I challenge you to spend more time focusing on your character than you do the size of the crowd you lead or are a part of. The crowds come and go and grow and shrink. But your character is something you will always take with you regardless of which crowd you are in.