Jun 172014 16 Responses

I’m Tired of Being Nice

Sometimes I get tired of being nice.

I fantasize about what it would be like to:

  • give people a piece of my mind
  • say whatever I want to say
  • return a rude action with a rude action
  • hang up on someone
  • yell at someone
  • never speak to someone again

But it’s all a fantasy. In the end, I do my best to be loving, kind, thoughtful, and measured in every action I take. While I fail often, I try to be nice.

Yet I grow tired of it. (See: Two Steps to Solving 90% of Relationship Problems)

Niceness is part of the pastorate, or at least it should be. Not every pastor is nice, but then again not everyone who is a pastor should be a pastor.

A pastor should be nice, but that’s not because of the job; it’s because all people should be nice.

However, pastors and people alike grow weary of this niceness on occasion. We think and often say, “I’m tired of being nice.”

Whenever I say that, I have properly identified a problem, but I have wrongly assumed the solution. (See: You Hurt My Feelings)

The truth is, whenever I feel tired of being nice, I’m actually tired of being a hypocrite. I’ve grown weary of my outward actions not matching my inward desires.

The tension between the two is a problem, and I’m right in believing the tension shouldn’t exist.

But I’m wrong in thinking the solution to the problem is in being less nice. The last thing I need to be is less nice.

What I need to be is more loving, kind, generous, merciful, understanding, and empathetic. And I need my heart to desire more of these things.

The weariness I feel is not from being nice; it’s from being a hypocrite. (See: Weariness as a Symptom of Wrongness)

Being a hypocrite is exhausting. We have to fake an action while feeling something completely different. The dichotomy creates tension and the tension exhausts all energy.

While hypocrisy is troubling, what’s more troubling is when I blame other people for my failings. When I feel tired of being nice, what I’m actually believing is that other people are exhausting me. I think they are my problem and they are lucky at how kind I’m treating them.

So I’m a hypocrite who believes everyone else is wrong while I’m right and the only reason we continue to have a peaceful relationship is because of my generosity of kindness.

This thinking might make me feel better, but it is not true. (See: When Others Offend You)

The truth lies in feeling the problem, but understanding a different solution.

Whenever I grow weary of a good action, it is a reminder that something is wrong with my heart. Some aspect of who I am is not in line with who I want to be. The problem is not my action, but my heart.

Knowing this truth changes my perspective when weariness comes. I still feel the tension, but I tell myself the truth regarding the actual problem. I’m not tired of being nice. I’m tired because my heart is not as kind as I want it to be.

I must continue to restrain my wrong desires, act in a kind and loving way, and find ways to transform my heart into what I desire it to be.

Are you tired of being nice? Good. Your weariness can be a teacher which reveals a heart that’s in need of change.

The next time you find yourself fantasizing about what you can do in response to another person, stop, pray, consider what that reveals about your heart, and change.

16 Responses to I’m Tired of Being Nice
  1. […] But we do have complete control over one thing—ourselves. (See: I’m Tired of Being Nice) [&#... kevinathompson.com/control-matters
  2. Booker Reply

    Is it ok to give someone your mind every now and again?. Iam a pastor and honestly I’m getting sick of people! There excuses…there lies…there problems…there always needing something but never wanting to give anything……I’m becoming angry a lot and ready to just tell some people off. But your right I’m a hypocrite….my outer actions are not matching my heart. I’ll have to pray that God redirects my heart

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Booker, I feel your pain. Here is my take: it is never right to “give someone a piece of my mind” but it is regularly appropriate to compassionately, but firmly tell people the truth. It is right to grow weary of the lies of others and to refuse to play their game of deception. Oh, how your question resonates with me and probably everyone in a helping profession.

  3. Lou-Anne Reply

    I don’t think Jesus was always nice. He turned those tables over in the temple. I’m not sure people would think that was nice, but it was just! Sometimes justice wins over nice. Sometimes by being just, people may perceive that you’re not being nice, but is it really nice to continue to let people think their injustice is okay? I think this article scratches the surface, but needs to dig a little deeper.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Lou-Anne, I’m not claiming Jesus was always “nice.” What I am saying is that when I feel tired of being nice, it is a sign of my own hypocrisy. That was the focus of this article.

  4. Angels Reply

    Very wise words. In my case, it is that I am self sacrificing when I want to be selfish. I am benefiting others and want to benefit myself, take care of me. It is out of balance. Not a bad thing, but exhausting in the hypocrisy of this choice. Your words apply. I need to get my heart in line with my actions. Well said.

  5. Justin Digney Reply

    Hi Kevin,

    I fully agree with your post. Part of my growth is learning to learn how to ‘compassionately , but firmly tell people the truth’.

    I sometimes get weary of giving, for example I enjoy holding the door open for people. But when I feel weary of this action, I simply don’t do it. It does not feel like an obligation then, it feel like an act of giving, connecting.

    I have a habit of being overly flexible. I don’t consider it giving, I consider it a fair exchange of meeting the needs of others people, I guess an underlying expectation is that the other person would one day consider my needs.

    An example I observed a similar issue with two different co-workers I shared my office with. I was accommodating of their needs (or was just avoiding possible conflict) about the temperature setting in the room, I would wear a jumper etc. But after a year or two I got weary of being the only person who was accommodating, the same occurred in my next office. clearly the issue lied with me, and my reluctance to discuss my needs.

    The second office was more telling because I was well known for always wearing my jacket (feeling the cold), the supervisor I shared the office with would only be in the room for maybe an hour a day but always set the air conditioner to low. Being in it was me who entered his office I was reluctant to speak up about my needs, or change the settings when he left the room. Resentment built over several years before I started changing the settings as soon as he walked out of the room – still avoiding the conversation.

    I don’t know if it is just the nuance difference between my original drivers (passively avoiding possible conflict) or an inability to sense the true underlying belief I am being kind.

    In any case I believe the appropriate action is to communicate my needs more clearly.

    Thanks I have been aware of this issue for a few weeks/months but haven’t found the courage (probably being scared of my ability to express compassion, while having a difficult conversation, perhaps a symptom of building resentment, perhaps misplaced anger in myself for not being able to speak up on day one to minimize or manage the issue).

    The possible nuances are somewhat over complicating an otherwise straight forward reply!

    Thanks Kevin

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  9. Jedi Dwight Reply

    Walt Whitman said: “Behold I do not give lectures or a little charity, When I give I give myself.”

    Our selves are totalities. They are oneness. There can never be anything wrong with out hearts because we humans are dynamic creatures.

    We are all capable of love, of joy, of sadness, of anger, of causing happiness and rendering pain and death.

    Our modern interpretation of everything from politics to religion has been polished to a spit-shine.

    X can be said but Y is forbidden. A is acceptable but B is taboo. Young people are waking up to the fact that it’s all arbitrary. All the social rules and regulations were invented and implemented by the adults who came before them – most of whom probably had no idea what they were doing, as is the case for the majority of us.

    So, Pastor, when you say you feel weary,I would like to offer an alternative explanation for your weariness other than something being wrong with your heart.

    Your weariness comes from acting phony. Some of those people you see who blather on about their little personal hellholes they have created make you grind your jaw and summon your greatest powers of acting from time to time I bet. I worked with over 3,000 teenagers in a public high school teaching career – a world I wouldn’t return to if you offered me 11 billion dollars per year, a golden helicopter, and a personal spa day with Mila Kunis.

    You aren’t weary because there’s something wrong with you, Pastor. You’re weary because working with ungrateful people who lie with every breath is taxing.

    Surely you are doing God’s good work. Upon concluding my teaching career 5 years ago, I made peace with students I helped, the ones I failed, the trouble I caused, the sports victories I coached teams to winning, and also all the lies I was told around homework, class work, relationships, etc.

    The only thing that kept me going for a whole decade, including 2 years of inner city work was one sentence: “Forgive them father. They know not what they do.”

    Then one day I woke up. I realized that a) I am not Jesus Christ. I am a guy. I don’t have to help anyone if it causes me pain, frustration and anger and b) most of the people I worked with were unmotivated, disenfranchised, angry, tired malnourished in some cases living in homes without books, heat, etc. You know the whole story.

    One day, as I was being berated by another teacher for being too loud, while this lady, 5 or 10 years my junior in life, was wagging her finger at me demanding I be more quiet, I realized that I was finished being treated like excrement for giving my 100% level best in that classroom day in and day out for 10 years..coaching, moderating clubs, chaperoning dances, holding after school study groups… that little girl wagging her finger showed me the future of public education in America.

    It is one where there are no real teachers left. Only authoritarian, anger-filled mixromanagers who think that demanding children stand in line and step and fetch when we tell them will fill the ranks of educators. I know many excellent veteran teachers with masters degrees, PhDs, awards for meritorious service… I know the best of the best… and they are all getting tired of helping, of the abuse, of the lies…

    And well they should. For the Lord said turn the other cheek. He said love the neighbor.

    But what is to be done when your neighbor is a fraud and you keep getting slapped around?

    I’ll tell you what there is to do: you go pursue the life that makes YOU happy, you shed the guilt, and you ride of into the sunset secure in the knowledge that you’ve done more to help your fellow human than 99.9% of the planet.

    Then, you grab a burrito and a beer and think up your next step and go after it with the passionate fire of 1000 blazing suns, leaving the degradation, dishonesty and hypocrisy of broken social systems behind you forever.

    I hope you find peace, Pastor. I hope a little glimpse of my story has helped you. Stay and help them or go and help yourself… whatever you do, choose from your true heart of hearts, for that is where God lives and that is the place in us from which he speaks.

    What do I do now? I started a translation company. We work with disabled students in schools to make sure their parents who dont speak English understand all the social, academic and legal info on their kids. It is rewarding and pays much better than teaching.

    Thanks Pastor. Peace be with you.

    • Scarlett Reply

      Truth. Yes. Amen to honest.

  10. […] There is a way in which one person should never talk to another, especially within the marital relat... kevinathompson.com/you-wont-talk-to-me-that-way
  11. Sarah Reply

    Wanted to let you know how much I appreciate the wisdom in this article and other articles (particularly the one about “my feelings are hurt”) on your website. It was refreshing to read Godly wisdom vs human wisdom. I want not only to read but “do”.

  12. J Mathew Reply

    Yes, there is stress when we feel one thing and do something that opposes it. There can also be great reward in behaving better than we feel sometimes. I agree we should work on ourselves, but it’s also a great virtue to be the good we wish to see in the world, even, and especially, when it’s hard. Why do you think you are SO NEEDED? It’s BECAUSE of the people who are constantly lying, taking, avoiding, failing….God has gifted you with your talents so you could help the flock. Compassion and firmness, frequently telling the truth, showing people the Way, is essential. But I do agree, with a job like yours, that you should take more time than most to take care of yourself, recharge your batteries, fill up your tank. You get beat up more than most, as do teachers, priests, social workers, even well-intentioned politicians and media personalities that get constantly attacked and smeared. People who are not just going against the grain, but actually trying to shift the current in another direction are doing Herculean work and need a lot more “recovery” than others. Even if others think you are being indulgent or lazy with yourself at times, be extra good to yourself, spend a lot of time being lifted by the Bible, positive companions (which includes books, media, as well as people), and venues that support rather than subvert your values. You are feeling fissures in the rock. Always, always tend to the rock so you can keep being one for yourself, your loved ones, and your community. You have every right to be discouraged, disgusted, and even at times, despairing. All normal feelings when we have to swim in a soup of sin. In order to live your talent and your calling, not only forgive, but apply copius amounts of hope that every bit you do helps guide people even just a small step closer to God and Heaven. Also, we can work on degrees of niceness.  Being nice doesn’t mean being an ineffectual pushover.  Some of our definitions of nice really aren’t about being nice at all, they’re about being subservient.  We need to get our understanding more clear, and perhaps shift our behavior, buck up bits of courage that have long been buried in dust, and find a better way to be nice in effective and useful ways that really do justice to human dignity, truth, and salvation.  The solution isn’t always to quit our jobs, but for some it may be. That takes discernment, prayer, wisdom to decide such things. Blessings to you all.

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