a worship reflection by Glen Cavallo
Did you ever just dread going to an event? I mean, just really would rather have a root canal than go to that function? Well for me, as Barb can attest, it was being invited by my boss to attend social functions with our Board of Directors. I will tell you why in a few minutes.
You see, I grew up in Camden, NJ, infamous for being the most dangerous city in the United States. My father was a trucker and my mom had to drop out of school in fifth grade to help support her family. Although they were the best parents ever, and there was never a shortage of unconditional love, I told myself from when I was a little boy that I was not good enough, I was not worthy. In fact, when Barb and I were just starting to date, her cousin who lived in an upscale part of NJ told my future Mother-in-law that nothing good ever came from Camden. So, for as long as I can remember, I told myself that I was from the wrong side of the tracks and didn’t belong.
In my twenties, I could still hear this same voice saying, I didn’t belong to be with the rest of the students from all over the world at Duquesne University. Or I certainly didn’t measure up dating Barb. And I obviously didn’t fit in with her siblings and older, wealthier, spouses. So many times, I told myself, I didn’t measure up.
Maybe some of you have felt this way also at times in your life? Just not worthy.
OK, fast forward about 20 years and I was forced to attend these board meetings and worse, the dreaded Board dinner the night before.
Once again, I was surrounded by very successful people who had incredible backgrounds, major accomplishments and significant wealth. All night long, that little voice kept saying repeatedly, “You don’t belong here. You are not like them”. However, one conversation, one night changed my thought process and life.
I was seated next to a recently retired Congressman from Arkansas. He had served a number of terms in Washington and was highly respected. Trying to create small talk, I asked him: “What’s the biggest obstacle you have faced leaving Washington and coming home? His answer has stuck with me ever since.
He said, “While in Congress, I had my own parking spot at the Capitol. (I guess that’s a big deal up there). People held doors for me. I never had to make a reservation at a restaurant. And I always got the best tables. There were so many perks. But now that I am retired and back home, all of that is gone. Glen, I learned I wasn’t special. I learned I was like a Broadway performer who has a role to play for a period of time. And then, someone else plays that role.”
He said, “I learned, I am no more special than the next guy. It was a lie I was telling myself all of those years. My job did not define me.”
I have told those stories many times while coaching executives these last few years. Both about how we tell ourselves we are not worthy on one hand and then sometimes we are fooled into thinking we are special on the other. In both cases, these are lies we tell ourselves.
Here are the truths about all of us:
I believe we are worthy, just as He made us. We are children of God!
But on the other hand, we just aren’t any more special than anyone else.