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When They Say, “It’s Not You,” (But It Is.)

A travel guide for life, faith, and relationships.


Many of us have heard from someone, maybe a friend, a spouse, a boss, an employee, or a parishioner if you’re a pastor, “It’s not you, but I think it’s time for me to move on. Trust me, you are not the issue, but I’m having a problem with _____________, and it’s time for a change.”


They may like you, and so they don't want to shred you emotionally, but they're not honest either.


They say, “Trust me, it’s not you.”


But it is.



If you told your spouse, “I think you’re a wonderful person with lots of delightful qualities, but I’ve grown bored in our relationship and need more __________.” Wouldn’t your spouse think, “If I’m so wonderful, why are you not interested in me?”


If you told a chef, “I like you, but I don’t like your menu or the way you prepare mac-n-cheese.” Isn’t the food and the menu representative of who he is?


If you told a teacher, “I think you’re great, but your curriculum and your classroom suck.” Isn’t the material and the classroom environment a part of who the teacher is?



If you told a pastor, “I like you. I think you’re an amazing pastor, but I don’t feel fed, or I don’t like the music, or I don’t like the leadership culture at your church.” Isn’t any particular church an expression of the pastor?


Everything you and I do—regardless of what we do—is in some way (and perhaps in many ways) an expression of who we are and what we value.


A teacher isn’t going to feel great when a student doesn’t like what is being taught. A spouse is not going to feel wonderful if you don’t want to be married to him or her. A pastor isn’t going to feel amazing when you don’t like his church.


So what do you do when people are trying to be kind (or wimping out), and what you hear from them is not honest?



Consider these:


  • Remember, Jesus was perfect, but He had His critics too. Stop trying to please everyone and accept the fact that humans often are critical.


  • Keep in mind, you’re no Jesus and very imperfect, so it is possible that there’s something you can and should learn from your critics. Don’t be arrogant or stubborn. Is there even a grain of truth in what is being said (or implied)?


  • Accept this reality: if you’re going to lead, you’re going to take some hits. It’s the person out front who often suffers the most blows. Your car windshield is the part that has the bug splatter and rock chips, not the rear window.



  • Humans rarely like to take personal responsibility for the condition of their hearts and lives. We (including you and I) seem wired to look for a scapegoat rather than own our flaws. When a husband has a problem with his wife and doesn’t acknowledge his own failings, the wife shouldn’t feel responsible for her husband’s defects.


  • Don’t be shocked by the fact that humans are fickle. A hero today easily becomes a villain tomorrow in our culture. You don’t have to do anything wrong, and you may not have changed, but people’s preferences often do. Don’t let public opinion drive you, because if you do, it will drive you crazy.


Relationships are hard because relationships involve humans. Learning to navigate the realities of criticism isn’t easy, but it’s absolutely necessary.


Keep at it. Don’t give up.


Humans are worth it.


You are worth it.


Kurt Bubna

Kurt W. Bubna has published seven books, is an internationally recognized blogger, conference and retreat speaker, as well as an experienced life and leadership coach. Bubna has over forty years of experience working with individuals, teams, and a wide variety of business and non-profit organizations.