A while back, I led a day retreat for the leadership team of a large Southern California ministry at Rancho Capistrano, a beautiful Spanish-style retreat center in the area. We were near the end of the day and were gathering up our things and preparing to leave.
On one end of the room in which we were meeting, I noticed a Western fence lizard (we called them “bluebellies” when I was growing up) pacing in a wall length window frame, trying to get out. He was not a baby lizard, but a full grown one. He must have come through an open door at some point during the day. It was obvious he wanted to get back out to his home and didn’t know how.
So, I walked up carefully and reached down to capture him so I could release him outside. I gently set my hand on his back when he reached around and bit me hard on the knuckle. It left a pretty bloody lizard tooth mark. I’d never had a bluebelly bite me in all the years I’d dealt with them. He must have thought, in that reptilian brain of his, that I intended to capture him and perhaps do him harm. I continued with my intention, carried him outside and set him on the ground. He ran off without giving me a second thought.
It made me think about times I’ve been bitten trying to help someone. It’s happened more times than I wish to remember. In leadership, we sometimes find ourselves trying to help people get where they want to go. We can see where they seem to be aiming, but when we go to help them they reach around and bite us. They see us as enemies instead of as friends. We can tell what they want, but they think we are only trying to do them harm, judge them or harness them for our own selfish purposes.
When have you experienced a bite back when you sought to extend help to another?
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