She had been an effective leader in our church for many years. But as she came into my office that day, I could tell she was deeply troubled as she announced that she and her husband were leaving the church. After what seemed hours of probing, she finally revealed her reasons for leaving. The previous Sunday my wife happened to pass her in a very crowded foyer and didn’t stop to greet her. As tears were running down her face there in my office, she added, “and she didn’t even smile, and that really hurt my feelings!”

Why did this lady’s feelings really get hurt?

  1. She allowed a negative thought to trigger a negative feeling. She thought that the pastor’s wife was “aloof” that day because she had walked by without giving this lady attention. This lady assumed my wife was thinking she was somehow better than others. However, if this woman had “taken her thought captive”; according to 2 Corinthians 10:5, she would have realized that she had actually been hugged by the pastor’s wife on numerous occasions. It is often negative thoughts that spark negative feelings.
  2. The truth is the pastor’s wife could in no way hurt this lady’s feelings. That’s why we call them “my feelings.” I am in charge of my own feelings. It’s my choice as to what hurts them. You don’t control me. I can choose to have my feelings hurt by something you do, but you cannot hurt my feelings.
  3. Perhaps this woman was seeking extra love and attention that day, and when she didn’t receive it, she found my wife to be at fault, and the lady became “the victim.” According to psychologists, sometimes a person desires the feeling of being a martyr for his or her own sake, out suffering or persecution because it either feeds a need or a desire to avoid responsibility.

You hurt my feelings” is a phrase we should reconsider using because it simply is not true. Rather it is a confession of our own mistake of allowing someone else to control us.

Healthy leaders will not only be in control of their own feelings and know how to process negative thoughts that spark negative feelings, but they will also keep from blaming others for hurting their feelings.

Here’s a question: Do I let my feelings dictate my actions, or do I process my thoughts and feelings in a responsible way?