Apr 052015 19 Responses

Sometimes You Need to Be a Jerk

It’s never my intention to be a jerk. I want to be kind and thoughtful. I hope to assist other people in their lives. Yet on occasion it is okay if other people think I’m a jerk.

When my daughter was born, she automatically qualified for financial assistance because of her diagnosis of Down syndrome. While the formal process had to be taken, it should have been a simple task because a genetic test confirmed her condition. In most cases, a medical team has to determine whether or not a child will need special services. In cases of Down syndrome, there is no need for debate. (See: What I Prayed the Night Ella Was Born)

Yet what should have been an easy process became a nightmare. The problem arose because of an underfunded, over-worked, under-motivated Department of Health and Human Services. My local office would need to do the paperwork to send to the state office. The state office would then approve the application. Again, because of her diagnosis, approval was guaranteed. All that needed to happen was to get the paperwork to the state.

It was an easy step, but it was the step which became the hold up. I submitted all my information and waited. A week later I contacted the state office seeking approval, but they told me they had not received my paperwork. I called my local office, but they did not return my call. I called again. And again. Finally I received a call telling me the process would take months and that I needed to be patient.

But I didn’t want to be patient. From my understanding there was no reason the process should take months. So I inserted myself into the process in order to see if we could speed it up.

I visited my caseworker and encouraged her. I would go through the application process very loudly which meant when she did a good job, every boss of hers would know her name and know how good of a job she did. It was a great opportunity for her and I would assist her. (See: 8 Leadership Lessons Ella Taught Me in Her First 8 Years)

This was unfair, she explained. A stack of applications sat on her desk, it wouldn’t be right for her to put mine at the front of the line. I understood her thoughts, but the thought of fairness had left my mind the moment my daughter received a diagnosis. For me this wasn’t about fairness, it was about getting things done.

I played a card I did not want to play. Seeing no effectiveness in my “let me help you approach,” I reminded my caseworker of the other side of the coin. I was going to be loud through the process either way. If I did not receive the help I needed, every boss of hers would know about it as well.

No matter what she did, I was clear what I was going to do. How it impacted her was in her hands.

To her I was a jerk. To my daughter I was a good dad. Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference.

We never have a right to be a jerk. We are always called to be loving, compassionate, kind, helpful, grace-filled, peaceable, and generous. We never have the right to give someone a piece of our mind or to use (or abuse) others to make ourselves feel better.

But we should not confuse what we are commanded to do with how others perceive us. We could be a jerk and no one realize it. We could be kind and others think we are being a jerk. We control us; we do not control how others perceive us. (See: Never Try to Prove Yourself)

To be an effective spouse, parent, employer, employee, citizen, and person, there are times in which you will have to allow other people to think you are being a jerk. You can’t use this as an excuse to actually be one. You must always check your heart and your motives. You must continually evaluate your course of action and search for a better way.

Yet there are times in which we can do the right thing and others will not like our action. Some will make the assumption that we are rude, self-centered, or just being a jerk. Let them think it.

Choose wisely and let people think what they want.


19 Responses to Sometimes You Need to Be a Jerk
  1. […] Determining the degree of an offense can assist us in discerning the need for response. I can ignore... https://www.kevinathompson.com/if-this-offends-you-im-not-sorry
  2. […] 2) Maybe my feelings needed to be hurt. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I was selfish. Maybe your action is... https://www.kevinathompson.com/hurt-feelings

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