How do you hurt a nun’s feelings?

It was a humid Saturday night in July.

The homeless shelter was full of people getting trays of dinner (hot dogs and baked beans!).

Two people faced off in an epic confrontation:

  • A tiny Catholic nun.  In her 60’s.  The founder of the shelter.

  • A broad-shouldered homeless man.  In his 40’s.  Fermented breath.

The nun said calmly, “Sir, you need to leave for the night.”  It was almost a whisper.

Already red-faced from screaming, the man opened his mouth, but then said nothing.

He HAD to get even with her for kicking him out.

What do you say to a nun, though, to get even?

How do you REALLY hurt a nun’s feelings?

Moments passed…

The two stared quietly like old western gunslingers…

Neither blinked…

The tension in the room climbed…

One hundred residents and volunteers watched in eerie silence.

A look of deep satisfaction began to spread across the man’s face. 

He knew exactly how to hurt a nun.

The man pointed at the nun. His finger was no more than a few inches from her face.

And then he yelled at her.


His revenge complete, the man immediately ran out the door and disappeared down the street.

One hundred pairs of eyes looked at the nun to see how she would respond to the “insult.”

The small nun just shrugged.

Focus on What People Do, Not What They Think

The nun didn’t care about the man’s insult because she was focused on getting him to follow the rules.

In that moment, following the rules meant leaving for the night.  And he did that!

Is part of your job to get people to follow the rules?

Yes?  Then “Focus on what people do, not what they think.”

Anytime you make a confrontation personal, you make the situation worse. 

By the way, it’s never about you.


  • 🤔 Does someone think you are a joke?

    It doesn't matter.

  • 🤔 Does someone think your organization is stupid?

    So what?!?!?!

  • 🤔 Does someone think your rules are dumb?

    Not important.

As long as they follow the rules, don’t worry about what they think.

Watch the video above to learn more about this (and why Michael Jordan almost never throws basketballs at people).

Have a great week!


Stay in touch

Receive weekly tips from Ryan about how to work with homeless, addicted and mentally ill patrons.