People Will Hurt You – Keep Them Close Anyway

Sometimes you invest in people for a long time – you love them, nurture them, give them opportunities – the best way you know how.  Then they leave you, hurt you, or don’t rise up to your expectations – they simply fail you, or even betray you.

Getting close to people when you are in leadership can be risky.  Can you relate?

getting close to people

A few years ago a very trusted employee, whom we had helped to go on a mission trip and to whom we had given much opportunity and care, left the company out of nowhere.  Not only that, she started recruiting others from our team to go with her.

Yes, we felt betrayed and honestly, hurt.

Our first instinct was to stop investing in people and to keep them at a distance.  Isn’t that the old advice we all get  – avoid getting close to people when you are in leadership?  Keep yourself at a distance?

For a long time, I was not sure how to handle these situations emotionally until I heard a very simple, yet powerful, principle taught by John Maxwell.  This was a tipping point for me in my leadership.  It is a principle I remind myself and others of often.  I want to share it with you…

If you hold people at a distance, they can’t hurt you. But if you hold them at a distance, they can’t help you. - John Maxwell

Friend.  Leader.  Pay attention to my words…When you keep people at a distance to protect yourself, you will never reach their hearts.  And if you aim to do great work, you have to touch people’s hearts.

That means you have to put your heart at risk!  That’s a sacrifice you have to make.  As I look back at the last few years when I have tried to apply this principle, I was hurt by a handful of people.   But I would not trade that hurt in a million years with the most wonderful relationships of trust and camaraderie I have developed with others who have not hurt me because I was willing to risk being wounded.

You may say, “I’m good.  I can get close to people without being hurt.”

I seriously doubt it!  I don’t care how good you become at discerning people’s ability and character, you cannot be 100% immune from being hurt by others.  Why?  Because we are all human.  We are unpredictable, selfish and weak.  We all can be very hurtful!

So I urge and challenge you today to do the following next time you get hurt – you know that kind of hurt where you feel betrayed, let down, or insulted – that hurt where you feel like you’ve been punched in the stomach.

Say to yourself…

I will not stop loving people and bringing them close to me regardless of the cost or the hurt.  Because even though that’s where pain occurs, that’s also where the healing occurs.  Even though that’s where anguish and agony may happen – growth, beauty, and the mystery of God’s love are manifested there too.

It’s in that place where we get so close as to breathe another person’s soul and feel their heartbeat as if it were our own!

Dear leader, when you get hurt, hold on to your heart for a moment, but only for a moment!  Then open it back up to the world – because that’s where a leader’s heart should be!

Your friend,
Wes Saade MD Signature

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2 Comments
  • Misty Gilbert
    Posted at 03:16h, 06 July Reply

    Excellent post! Makes me think of the book: Pain, the Gift Nobody Wants. By loving people, we are able to bring life, healing and love to someone else’s life. May we all learn the lessons that come from being hurt and let it further our love for others! Thanks for the reminder to look for and develop through the growth, beauty, and mystery of God’s love!

    • Wes Saade
      Posted at 12:26h, 06 July Reply

      Thank you Misty for the Comment… and the book recommendation, I will look at it.

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