Kathi and her “slightly better friend”, Michele Cushatt get very transparent about their own struggles with the number one thing that will pull you out of ministry. They candidly confirm how struggling with this issue is common among communicators. Sharing the depths of their personal experiences and how insecurity and comparison go hand and hand, Kathi and Michele give great insights on this important topic. Join in the conversation as we discover:
- What we must know about ourselves when we are comparing
- Where is comparing getting us and what do we need to do to counteract it
- Why there is nothing we need to do to obtain value
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Transcript of this Episode
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Communicator Academy Podcast # 196
The #1 Thing That Will Pull You Out of Ministry
Kathi – Well, hey friends. Welcome to Communicator Academy, where our heart is to help men and women become the communicators God has created them to be. Joining me today is my slightly better friend, Michele Cushatt. Hey, Michele.
Michele – Not true. Hey, Kathi, but not true.
Kathi – Well, it just goes with our theme, today.
Michele – Yes, it does go with our theme today, but I could argue that point pretty strongly.
Kathi – So, today we are coming to you from The Red House. We’ve been here for a retreat led by Michele Cushatt and Cheri Gregory about Writing Your Hard Story. One of the things we do at The Red House, which is one of my favorite things, is that we have each participant, if they want to, nobody’s forced to, each participant share a devotional. This morning, Peggy Lawrence shared.
Michele – A brilliant devotional.
Kathi – It was so good.
Michele – It was really good. It totally kicked my butt.
Kathi – It kicked my butt in significant ways, about comparison.
Michele – I just want to point out to y’all who are listening. Some people assume because Kathi and I have done this for a while that we’re beyond the comparison trap.
Kathi – I think you and I were feeling that more deeply than, probably, anybody else in the room. Both Michele and I got real honest. I would say, especially in the past six months for me, this has been a huge struggle. Comparison has been a huge struggle for me.
Michele – It’s been a struggle for me. I’ll just say this. With the release of my book, and talking of my family of origin, and my family, and some of the responses I’ve received, or not received about that, I’ve felt myself slipping into a very insecure place. Insecurity and comparison often go hand in hand.
Kathi – So, comparison, for me, is hard in two areas, really. In my business and in my family. So, I’m going to concentrate on business, but I’m also going to say this, here’s the thing: I’ve got an amazing family. I love my family. I have a good relationship with my mom. I have a good relationship with each of my kids.
Michele – They’re not perfect.
Kathi – They’re not perfect. I’m not perfect. They have an imperfect mom. They have an imperfect dad. They have an imperfect step-mom. They have an imperfect step-dad. It’s so interesting to get all these Christmas cards. See all the families. It’s like, “We will never take a picture like that.” That’s just not who we are.
Michele – Same. We don’t even do Christmas cards. It’s not going to happen.
Kathi – You know the kid we showed in our Christmas card this year? Our dog, Moose.
Michele – That makes sense. No offense to the biological children.
Kathi – I love my biological children. It’s so interesting to see people who their kids are all walking with Jesus and doing all the right things. That is not our story.
Michele – It’s not ours either. I felt that during the holidays as well. That sense of “Wow. I don’t know that I can parade my things.” It doesn’t look quite like, in my mind, everybody else’s.
Kathi – And that’s why we have the Bad Mom’s Club. So, I don’t know if we’ve talked about that on here.
Michele – I don’t think we have. I’m a fairly new member and I’m still waiting for them to kick me out, but I’m so secretly glad I’m there.
Kathi – You’re such a bad mom, you’ll be able to stay in there forever. I can only say that to the Bad Mom’s Club. So, it originally started with another friend, but she has younger kids. Now, it’s you, me, Susy Flory, and Cheri Gregory. We all felt like bad moms at the same time.
Michele – We had children that told us we were.
Kathi – Exactly. We had confirmation. And here’s the thing: Parenting adult children? It is a whole different thing.
Michele – By the way, if y’all are parenting adult children and you feel like it’s a nightmare, we just want to you to know you’re not alone.
Kathi – Solidarity sister and brother. We get it.
Michele – It’s hard.
Kathi – What has been so healthy in that, is normalizing a non-normal family. All of us have non-normal families in that group.
Michele – That’s been the thing about it I love most. We can text each other and say, “So this just happened.” And nobody says, “Are you kidding me?” It’s, “Oh, I’ve been there and done that.”
Kathi – “So, here’s today’s crazy.” There’s almost nothing that one of us brings up that somebody hasn’t gone through, although, I think I’m the first one that’s bringing a child that’s getting a divorce into the group.
Michele – Give us time.
Kathi – Yeah, you know, we’ll get caught up, there. So, there’s been that sense of normalizing this real struggle. But in our business, it’s a kind of a different animal. When Peggy did her devotion on comparison, she was doing it about swimming. She swims with somebody who’s a really good swimmer and she compares herself.
Michele – It was such a good metaphor of her in a swim lane. Her friend in a swim lane, and how they did different paces.
Kathi – Right. Her friend is shorter but muscular and she’s longer. For a little while, she can beat her friend, but it’s not sustainable. Just to understand that. What really hit me is something that I’ve really been struggling with over the past six months is, what I have noticed about myself is, when I compare myself with somebody and I’m insecure, the thing that I do, and that is, do something self-depreciating and wait for others to acknowledge me.
Michele – Waiting for somebody to make you feel better about yourself.
Kathi – “You’re not so bad!” or “You’re doing a great job!” or “Your book is great!” That kind of thing.
Michele – It’s this backdoor way to get your needs met.
Kathi – Right. What she talked about in that devotional was the mortal and the immortal. I’m going to ask her if we can share that devotional. It was so good. I’m looking for mortal validation when I should be looking for the immortal of God. His, not validation, but love and acceptance of me, of who I really am. So, I see my weakness when I’m comparing myself to somebody else, I am like an alcoholic who needs whiskey. I am like a food addict who needs that bite of chocolate, that says, “I need something to release this agony I’m going through.” For me, it’s external validation. So, what I’ve learned about myself is, when I’m in that place of comparison, I need to say, “Okay, if I’m looking for a hit, what I need to do instead is, I need some time.” I need to excuse myself and go to the bathroom. I need to talk to God. It’s so hard.
Michele – It’s so hard.
Kathi – I am the worst at it.
Michele – As am I. Mine looks a little bit different. I actually ended up having a conversation with Cheri later this morning about that, but, I tend to feel like if I hustle enough, you won’t be disappointed in me. So, I have to hustle, hustle, hustle, trying to do everything right to make you happy. Not you, personally, but the general you. The thought being, “Maybe if I hustle enough, I will be worth putting up with.”
Kathi – Oh, I get it.
Michele – I find myself, “Oh, I’ll hurry up and do a bunch of tasks, or a bunch of things, then maybe people can tolerate me a little bit longer.” Then I’m like, “Wait a minute. Where does that come from?” Ultimately, if we do nothing in this life but sit on this couch and never move, we have value. We don’t have to do or say anything to have value, so where does this come from?
Kathi – Okay, so this is so interesting. I was reading a book. It’s called “Heads in Beds”. That’s what it’s called.
Michele – Heads and Beds?
Kathi – Heads in Beds. So, that’s a hospitality term in a hotel. Head and beds. The percentage of heads and beds you’ve got. He was talking, when he was working as a bell hop and a front desk guy. The people who tip the best are overweight.
Michele – Really?
Kathi – I 100% know why. We don’t feel like we deserve to take up space. “So, if I tip you well enough, you’ll find value in me.” I didn’t think about it until we were talking about comparison stuff. I know that I don’t want to take up space. It’s so weird. Look at the job I’m doing. Holy cow. I get in front of people. Cheri Gregory was saying, okay, so, when you’re planning things, what you do is I go to the opposite of my strength. Educating. My strength is entertaining, but I go to educating because I want to earn the right to be heard. So when people are coming to The Red House I’m like “Okay, I want to make sure I’m doing enough.”
Michele – And me, I don’t want to be an inconvenience, so I do everything I can to not be an inconvenience to anyone.
Kathi – So, I think what is so interesting is understanding that about ourselves. Saying, “It comes from this root of comparison.”
Michele – Somehow feeling our value is dependent on the person next to us.
Kathi – Right. “I’m not offering enough value, so I need to hustle.” You are higher maintenance that your average bear, is what you’re telling yourself. I’m not saying that.
Michele – I need to work really hard to earn my keep.
Kathi – This is so interesting.
Michele – So let’s apply it to the writing/speaking world. Especially the internet space, because those of us who are writer/speakers, we’re out there in the world wide web internet vortex and what we end up doing is hustling. I wonder what form your extravagant tip and my hustling takes in the internet space.
Kathi – I think part of it is, I want to give everything away for free.
Michele – Ahh. ‘Cause that increases your value.
Kathi – Exactly.
Michele – Not that there’s anything wrong with giving things away. It’s the mindset of, “I have to do this in order to be worthy.”
Kathi – So, I wonder what it is. You don’t want to inconvenience people. I wonder what form that takes.
Michele – For me, sometimes I just have a hard time shutting down and being done. I always have to be hustling. I’m always trying to earn my place, so I can’t ever slow down and stop.
Kathi – You’ve never earned the right to rest.
Michele – If I’m not working hard, I’m not valuable.
Kathi – So, you guys. You see how screwed up we are?
Michele – Exactly.
Kathi – But here’s how we’re not screwed up. We’re starting to recognize it.
Michele – And I think that’s why we’re having this conversation today. We want to verbalize. For those of you out there that struggle with, you get online, you scroll through Instagram and you instantly feel terrible about yourself. Comparison is plain here. Figure out where it’s coming from. What’s the source? What are you trying to earn? Where is the comparison getting you? What do you need to do to counteract it?
Kathi – I think, knowing the truth about ourselves is so important. I was interesting. I was doing some invitations to this mastermind. I only asked a few people, and I got immediate yeses from four people right away. Here’s a variation of what each of them said, “I’ll sign up for anything you do because I know you’ll over deliver.” So when I’m thinking I’m not bringing value? I don’t want to over deliver out of fear. I want to over deliver out because that is who I am as a communicator and as a leader. Okay, now I’m going to diagnose you, and I’m super excited about this.
Michele – Please! It’s free, right?
Kathi – The first time’s free. Part of what you are telling people is, as somebody who has gone through trauma and done the work, and just as a human being, you deserve rest.
Michele – Whether anybody sees it and agrees with it.
Kathi – Right. You deserve rest. So, for you to model rest and say, “I am still valuable before I rest and after I rest.” is so valuable for the people that you lead.
Michele – And reminding myself of that. Part of what my challenge is right now is telling myself, “Even if nobody on the planet validates it, it’s still okay.” Even if a hundred people tell me I’m wrong for doing that, it doesn’t mean it’s true. That requires me to stop, step away from the comparison game, and to remind myself, “You are okay. You don’t have to do all of that. Even if everybody says you’re wrong, doesn’t mean it’s right. You are okay. You can do this.”
Kathi – The other true I have to remind myself is, “I’m going to get it wrong, and God’s okay with that.”
Michele – I hope this is helpful for y’all.
Kathi – This is therapy for free.
Michele – I was with my therapist. It was several months ago now, but she was asking why I was so driven at times, I believe. I said, “Well, I just want to do my best.” She said, “Who says you have to do your best all the time?”
Kathi – Whooo.
Michele – I know! I’m like, “Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do? Isn’t everybody supposed to always do their best all the time?” She goes, “Who says? What if you decided to just do mediocre today?” Her point was, what in my mind felt like I have to be, basically, driving my car full out 80 miles an hour, all the time, in order to be a good car?
Kathi – And by the way, when have you ever had your day when you said, “That was my best.”? We’re such perfectionists.
Michele – Yeah. Never. It’s never our best. “Oh, I could have done better.”
Kathi – We’re never going to say, “Oh, yeah. It was foot to the floor today.”
Michele – I love how she challenged that. It was like, “Where did that come from, that I thought I was only valuable when I was doing my best?” So, I had this mentality that every day I had to do my best. I had to be the best mom I could be today. I had to be the best wife I could be today. I had to be the best writer I could be today. I had to be the best. So, what happens is, you live in a constant state of feeling lack. “You’re not enough.” And she challenged that by saying, “Who said?” I have a friend who has bedbound for years. Does that mean she doesn’t have value because she hasn’t got off the bed in years? She hasn’t contributed to society? She’s just existing?
Kathi – Because she exists, she is valuable.
Michele – Exactly. To me, when we deal with this comparison thing, it’s not just about comparison, it’s getting back to the roots of where we believe value comes from.
Kathi – So good. You guys, welcome to Michele and Kathi’s therapy session. I hope you’ve got your money’s worth, which was nothing.
Michele – Nothing.
Kathi – If you suffer from comparison, and I would say this is the most prevalent thing that authors and speakers suffer from. It’s your number one ministry killer.
Michele – It really is. Talk about sapping your creativity, your inspiration, even your energy. Every time we do a writer’s retreat, whether it’s Leverage of at The Red House or whatever, this comes up. Every single time.
Kathi – We pray that you can have freedom. As you see us wrestling through this, we hope that it gives you a little insight, maybe, on what you’re wrestling through. We would love to hear on the show notes, if you identify with this, or you think that Michele and I should be excluded from ministry forever.
Michele – Okay, Kathi and I will sit and eat chocolate and talk about dogs, ‘cause that’s what we do.
Kathi – In dogs we trust.
Michele – Yes! Thank you friends for hanging out with us today. Just so you know, we love you exactly the way you are.
Kathi – Thank you, Mr. Rogers. That’s so sweet.
Michele – I know, but you know there’s somebody who’s not going to hear that today. They’re going to hear it, so there you go.
Kathi – That’s so true.
Michele – There’s nothing you need to do today to have value. You already have it. You’ve been listening to Communicator Academy. I’m Michele Cushatt.
Kathi – And I’m Kathi Lipp.
Michele – You’ve been given the best message in the world. Now, go live it.
*see show notes in podcast post above for any mentioned items
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