My wife and I recently announced that we are adopting again. This is our second adoption and adds a sixth child to our family. Our announcement was met with a lot of enthusiasm and encouragement. It was also met with a statement repeated many times over in various ways, “you are such great people!”
The thing is, I don’t consider myself a particularly great person. I try to be a nice guy, and I try to help people. I’ve adopted, started nonprofits, and helped friends move from time to time. But I don’t consider myself better than the people around me. If I’m honest, I’m often selfish, inconsiderate, lack self-discipline, and oh so occasionally a full-on jerk.
I’m just a guy trying to do a little good in the world. I’m not particularly good, and certainly, I am not great.
We aren’t adopting again because we are great people. We are adopting again because there is a 10-year old boy in China with no family, and we know we can be the family he needs. It’s how we are wired and have been that way our whole marriage. If we see a need and know we can do something about it, we do it.
Recently I had coffee with a new friend. I was telling him about my family and our first adoption. He said, “man, you must like kids!” My honest response was, “not really.” I love my kids, but I’m not a “kid guy” that loves to be around kids all the time. But, it’s not about whether or not we like kids, it’s about meeting a need. We do what we do, to meet needs that need to be met. That’s it.
Comparisons aren’t fair or accurate.
Often when a friend says to me, “you are an amazing person,” it sounds a bit like they are implying that I’m a better person than the people around them. I think they mean well; I also think they are wrong.
I find that people rise up to serve others in all kinds of different and unique ways. My mom had one child (me) and worked as a professional for years. She helped people in her job, but what stands out to me most is that she cared for my grandmother as her health failed. My mom cared for her mom for more than 15 years, selflessly putting much of her own life on hold so that my grandmother could live her final years at home with her family. Even more impressive is that my mom also cared for my great grandfather for years before that.
All around us, people are adopting kids, caring for parents, supporting friends, teaching children, or building companies that employ people and treat them honorably. We each contribute to our community in our meaningful ways. And, for the few that are not contributing right now, it will be their turn soon as well. We each have a part to play.
Don’t think of me as a great person, and certainly not as someone better than anyone else. I’m a guy, meeting a need, and working on loving his family.
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