There are common “hard” questions I get asked, as a pastor, and maybe you have wondered about them as well… So now here is Hard Question #7 – “How are you doing?”
Ok so I know this one is totally different than the other questions. But honestly… this is the hardest question I get asked – personally speaking anyway.
At some point in my life that I cannot pinpoint – I subconsciously decided that my response to this question would always be – “Good!,” and even when pressed, no matter how many times I would keep insisting that all was good. UNTIL one day about three years ago – another guy in ministry that I barely knew at the time sat down with me for coffee and he didn’t ask me how I was doing. He told me how he thought I was doing and then he said, “Am I right?” He was, but I lied and told him that no – I was good! I will never forget what he said next… he looked me straight in the eye and he said, “you are an _ _ _ _ _ _ _.” And he didn’t smile when he said it. Now honestly, I’ve been called worse but never in the context of something like this coffee meeting. Before I could say much of anything he went on to tell me exactly why he said that. He said that I was somebody who wanted to pretend to be completely ok all the time… that I wanted to hear everyone else’s problems and I wanted to help them with their problems. I told him that maybe he didn’t really understand the word he had called me because that was not the correct definition. He went on to explain though how he was exactly right.
He asked me if I enjoyed helping people and I said that yes of course I did – that’s why I did it. He asked me to explain that feeling. I told him that I hated seeing others in pain. Anything I could do to alleviate that was what I wanted to do if I could. He said that of course that was why … and I was the person that would constantly desire that good feeling of helping others but would never allow anyone else to feel it from me. He said further that I must have some kind of superman complex. That I believed could handle all the difficult stuff that no one else could. I couldn’t share my feelings, my hurts, my brokenness with mere mortals… he said, “In fact, maybe you have a god complex!”
Very few times in my life have I been without words – but this was one of them. He had cut right through me… and I couldn’t stand that he had just said all of this to me… because it was rude, it was too soon in us knowing one another, and mainly because it was 100% – true. He had literally just identified the darkest part of me – and I hated him and loved him for it.
I think this question – “How are you doing?,” is a hard question for all of us. Many times it’s just easier to say “good,” because we don’t want to break down maybe or we are afraid of what someone might think if we told them some ugly/dark secret or maybe the person who asks is someone we don’t trust with the information we would have to share. I get all of that. Being selective is definitely ok when it comes to who we share what with and when… but it can’t be just be when things have gotten so bad that we finally break down.
It really boils down to two things. 1 – you can tell when someone really genuinely wants to know how you are doing… and 2 – telling the truth about how you are really doing will do you both good. Proverbs 11:14 says, Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
Ahhh Bible… you are so full of smart-stuff … thanks.
Jason Rehmel is the Lead Pastor at Eastside Christian Church on the east side of Cincinnati. If you are someone who has had a terrible experience(s) at a church or churches – stop by some weekend and give it one more shot with Eastside. Whether you have felt judged, or dismissed, or unwanted – wherever it has been – Eastside is different.