Thick Skin, Soft Heart

It the end of a steamy day where we had worked hard to restore a severely tornado damaged home that I saw it. I saw the picture of what I had hear about years earlier, and prayed would be true of my life, and so many of my friends.

In 2007 I was preparing to lead a summer mission trip to Zambia and as part of the preparation I attended a conference to begin preparations. During the conference Carrie Walker suggested that a key to being a good leader was to have a think skin and a soft heart. It made a strong impression on me as I knew that I at times have a thin skin and a hard heart. I can tend to be too sensitive to the comments and observations of people that I lead. I can want them to think I am a great leader or a wise friend more than lead them where they need to go weather they like me or not. As I listen to comments and observations that might not seem the most flattering I can tend to hard my heart to protect myself from any other intentional or unintentional wound. But in protecting myself from people I miss out on really knowing people and the person I want to know best, Jesus. And so the thought, and prayer of growing a think skin and a soft heart stuck.

It came back at a surprising time. I had worked hard that day and had work has a way of hardening me up. I can tend to close off and make the day about what I can produce and not about who I am. May be that it why this picture of someone who had a think skin and a soft heart stood out to me in such contrast to how I felt that day.

Coogan had come home to see some of the work that a group of hard working volunteers had done on his house. He had been off working a full day on other people’s homes, to do some work on his own, as he had been doing for 2 months. At least 12 hours a day in the hot Alabama sun. Working like that will make your skin thick, although I am not sure if that is what Carrie meant at all. What caught my attention again was after, living through a tornado with a badly damaged home, working 12 hour days for months on end, Coogan thanked the volunteers for their labor, prayed for them, and gave each one a hug as they left.

I saw a picture of what it means to have a think skin and a soft heart.

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About Dan Butz

I work with Cru in Leadership Development.
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