In his book “Choosing to Live the Blessing,” John Trent tells the story of a Hassidic rabbi who was approached by one of his students. As the rabbi was reading, the student, with a burst of enthusiasm said, “Master, I love you!”
The old rabbi looked up and asked, “Do you know what hurts me, my son?” The young man looked puzzled. “I don’t understand the question, Rabbi. I am trying to tell you how much you mean to me and you confuse me with irrelevant questions.”
“My question is not neither confusing nor irrelevant,” replied the rabbi. “For if you don’t know what hurts me, how can you truly love me.”
Do you know what hurts the people you love? I was speaking with a Marine couple who had recently married. They were starting to experience challenges in their marriage. As we spoke, I gave them both a piece of paper. I told them, on the front side, tell me everything your spouse does that makes you love them and want to stay together forever. His list included having a hot meal awaiting him when he arrived home, affection and many other items that a young married man appreciates. For her, the list was topped by his spending quality time with her, turning off the video games and snuggling while watching a movie.
When we completed the “deposits” in their “love bank account,” I asked them to write on the back side of the same piece of paper the “withdrawals.” The question was, “What are the things my spouse does that hurts or makes me sad about our relationship?” Again, they completed their list. They were then asked to exchange the lists. I told them, if you want a rich marriage, make lots of deposits. Do your best to avoid the withdrawals. Now, get to work.
In leadership or love relationships, it is important to know the hurts of those to whom we are connected. When St. Paul described love, he said in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered and it keeps no record of wrongs.” As you can see, this is an action list.
Make a list of those you care about. What hurts them? What brings them joy? Now, get to work.