I Must Be Doing This Wrong, Again

I Must Be Doing This Wrong, Again

February 9, 2015 by

Wanna see me break into a cold sweat? Combine my name with the phrase church communications expert. I mean, I know some stuff, and I’m even pretty good at a couple of things, but I don’t consider myself an expert at anything. Well, other than procrastination and sarcasm.

When I’m referred to as an expert, my brain does this:

  1. Oh no. They just used expert.
  2. Experts know everything.
  3. I don’t know everything.
  4. I don’t know anything.

I recognize that this is neither healthy nor accurate. I’d love to say I’ve gotten over my Fraud Demons, but I just haven’t. I have, however, figured out how to manage them a bit better.

When given a compliment, I say, “Thanks so much” and I try to actually believe it.

I don’t wonder why I’ve never before received that compliment—a train of thought that inevitably ends with, “Because I suck at everything all the time.” I don’t assume it was just a pity compliment. (“That brochure has a great personality.”) I don’t turn a compliment in one area into a criticism of another. (“They said the copy on the postcard was great, but they didn’t mention the artwork, so I’m a terrible designer.” Which actually is kind of true, but you get the point.) I don’t assign malice to the compliment. (Yes, it is absolutely possible to give a compliment with malice. Example: When I know I’ve gained a few pounds and someone asks if I’ve lost weight, I’m certain they’re waiting for me to confirm their observation of the exact opposite. See? Malice.)

I ask for help.

Being called an expert implies you are always to be the helper, and never the helpee, and that’s just ridiculous. I don’t know about you, but struggling alone with something at which I’m honestly no good runs my confidence through the meat grinder and spits out little bits of self-loathing. Plus it’s a horrendous waste of time. So, rather than trying to figure stuff out on my own, I find someone who actually knows what he or she is doing, and I ask for help.

I don’t try to hide my self-doubt.

There’s something powerful about sharing my “I’m not sure I know what I’m doing” with people whom I trust. Sometimes, that means texting another church communications person: “AGH! I’m stuck. I’m so overwhelmed with everything I have to get done, and I don’t know even know where to start, and I made the men’s ministry mad again.” More often than not, my friend replies with, “Me, too” which generally causes me to feel much better. (It’s not that I want my peers to suffer; it’s just that it’s nice to know I’m not alone in that space.) More often than not, a “Me, too” from someone who understands me and my work is more helpful than reading “Five Easy Steps to the Perfect Easter Outreach Plan.”

Three simple phrases: Thanks so much. Help me. I’m stuck. Use them. Oh, and I double-dog dare ya to use that last one at an upcoming Certification Lab. I guarantee you’ll hear a chorus of “Me, too.”


We do important work—sharing the gospel—but that doesn’t mean we can work ourselves to death. Learn more about how to fight church communicator burnout.

Photo by Kevin Dooley.
Post By:

Kelley Hartnett

Kelley Hartnett spent more than a decade working in established churches and helping to launch new ones. She recently launched Tall Tree Collective, which helps nonprofits craft messages that inspire people to get behind their cause. Kelley formerly served as the membership director for our Courageous Storytellers Membership Site and is the author of You've Got This: A Pep Talk for Church Communicators.
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2 Responses to “I Must Be Doing This Wrong, Again”

  • Steve Fogg
    February 9, 2015

    I love your refreshing honesty Kelley!

    I have the same dubious distinction when people refer to me as an expert. The key I think is that we DO know some stuff and can help others, but the very nature by being an expert at one thing means that WE need heaps of help with so many other things from experts in their field.

    Keeping it real and feet on the ground is a cool perspective to have.

     | Permalink
    • Kelley
      February 10, 2015

      Thanks for your kind words, Steve. Aaaaaand you *are* an expert. :)

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