How Leaders Should Respond When Offended

a leader of grace and humility

Have you ever been annoyed or offended when, after years of no contact, an old friend calls asking for a big favor? Perfect, this post is for us.

– At the very end of this story I will reveal to you the two characteristics that will positively influence every interaction you will ever have… if you can embrace them. –

Nearly seven years had passed since a friend from high school had contacted me. We were somewhat close growing up, but after graduation, as you can imagine, we lost touch. Now seven years later he was emailing me.

“Hey, would you be up for helping us move?”

That’s the most dreaded question in every friendship. After not speaking for almost seven years, the first point of contact is, “hey, wanna help me do the worst job ever?” Honestly, I was offended. “All those years you could have called and didn’t… and now this is the one you choose to reach out on?”

Since receiving that email five years ago, I see things drastically different.

When we feel offended or slighted, our first reaction is to put up our defenses. We share the offense with others so they can agree with us and allow us to feel justified in our reaction. This is how relationships go bad. Though it might feel good in the moment, like it did for me when I told others about the “moving email,” the fruit of being offended is nothing. Literally, nothing comes of it.


I was getting back in my car after checking my PO Box and a Facebook message came through. It was from an old friend who had not contacted me in years. The conversation starts off as most do, “how you doing…? how are the kids…? what are you up to…?” And after that little dance, I made the transition.

“So, you just saying hi? Wanna pitch me Amway? Looking to have a drink together?”

He was contacting me because he has a close friend who is stepping, for the first time, into a job that I have spent years performing in. His friend knew who I was and saw me and my old buddy were Facebook friends. He asked my old buddy to reach out.

If this were five years ago I would have responded with offense. I would have been upset that the first time my friend contacted me in years was to ask for me to give away my expertise for free. But I’m not that man from five years ago. Instead, I was excited to be able to help out an old friend. I had access to something that would bless him, bless his friend and wouldn’t cost me anything more than a couple hours. I agreed to meet up with his friend… and BONUS my friend said he would join us. We’ll get to hug and catch up.

After years of responding poorly to situations like this, I made the decision to turn a corner. I made the decision to respond with the two virtues that we would all do well to respond with… grace and humility.

My life is currently in a transition and I have found that interactions that embody grace and humility are those which are profitable. On the other side of offense is nothing. On the other side of grace and humility is life. There are few feelings as encouraging as someone being wiling to share their life with you and we all have the opportunity to allow others to feel that feeling! We have the ability to give life.

My challenge to myself and to you, through all of this, is to live a life that is anxious to extend grace and humility. You will never regret it.

4 replies
  1. Soji Fagade
    Soji Fagade says:

    Hi David,

    I read the post and i can relate to it so much. I have indirect experience because I tend to keep in touch more with my friends who sometimes tell me about mutual friends who they have not heard from in a long time and have been offended that the first time they hear from them it’s to ask for a favour. I take the view that reaching out is a two way thing. You could have reached out too. Besides, one just never knows what the other person has been through. In some cases, pressures of the daily grind just get in the way and contacting old friends just moves down the list of priorities.

    But extending grace with humility should never be discounted. Great post

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