You're about to be a part of a serious rant. And it's personal, which means it will be a rant of strong words.
If you consider yourself a leader and you view pain as a learning tool or a motivator than you're not acting as a leader.
I had a boss say to me one time, "Pain is a great learning tool," which was his way of saying, "I need you to behave and act in a way that makes me look better." Then he shared his plan to make my whole family feel discomfort, which he had authority from the organization to do, to motivate me. So let's stop and reflect on systems where pain is the primary learning vehicle:
Outside of the military, I'm not sure any of us would look at that list and want to volunteer. And people volunteer for the military knowing the pain is coming, which is what makes them heroes.
What's truly sad is the place I hear this phrase most commonly used is among leaders in ministry. Nothing defines you more as a manager than being able to identify the pain of someone else and have a safe distance between yourself and it. We are less like Jesus when we are in a leadership position and create a policy or procedure that inflicts pain as a learning tool or motivator.
This is simply not the Gospel. For if God was able to stand by, watch suffering, and think, "Well, it's a good lesson for them to learn," none of us would worship this kind of God. And yet, for those who faithfully follow a God who left the safe distance to, "Move into the neighborhood" and still create a barrier between someone else's pain and themselves have simply misinterpreted the result of the Gospel to be results and not relationship.
Pride is the root of this inflicted theodicy. And the true goal is to protect the mission, not the people.
A leaders response to someone else's pain is to roll up one's sleeves and get involved. This is the defining difference between leaders and managers: A leader gets their hands dirty while a manager allows suffering to act as a learning tool. The gospel is not permission for distance instead it is a calling to share with others in suffering.
Leaders are identified by questions like:
1. How can I help?
2. What do you need me to do?
3. Where do you need me to serve?
4. Is there something I can help you carry?
5. How can I use my resources help you?
I'm calling on you to have a different reaction to the pain you see in the people you lead. All of us fall down. I'll say that again. All of us fall down. If you can't identify when you fell down, then know eventually it will happen. There is pain in the fall for each of us. And as leaders our job is not to inflict more pain because someone isn't learning or performing. Our role as leaders is to step in and get involved. A leaders response to suffering should be incarnational instead of procedural. End of story.
This rant is now over.