To quit overfunctioning is foundational to our leadership. In fact, unless we take up this biblical challenge, it will be nearly impossible to raise up healthy, biblical communities that effectively engage the world with the gospel and deeply transform lives.
Overfunctioning can be defined as: doing for others what they can and should do for themselves. This is a key task for every leader that requires discernment, courage, and at times, wise counsel from others.
The following four realities motivate us to make this a regular topic for prayerful discernment:
Overfunctioning perpetuates immaturity.
In Exodus 18, Moses mistakenly believed his self-sacrifice was serving the people. Moses became the largest obstacle, the bottleneck to the people’s growth and maturity. In Numbers 11, the Israelites demanded a rescue from their pain. Moses accepted the role. In doing so, he ensured their continued immature behavior.
Overfunctioning prevents us from focusing on God’s unique call for our own lives.
Jesus said, “I have completed the work you have given me to do.” Unlike Jesus, however, we easily get sidetracked from our own life direction by over-focusing on others. Overfunctioning toward others often results in under functioning for oneself. When we overly-focus on others, we lose sight of our own values and goals.
Overfunctioning erodes our spiritual life.
One of the subtle yet most insidious effects of overfunctioning is how it separates us from God. We are called to trust and to surrender to His love. When we cross the line into running God’s world for him, we enter into dangerous territory, into the very rebellion of our first parents. When I am overfunctioning, I don’t allow God to be God.
Overfunctioning destroys community
The examples of Moses and Martha give us a visual picture of the negative impact of overfunctioning on communities, whether that community is a church, a workplace, a school or a family. The problem is it confuses caring about someone with having to take care of them. It eventually results in resentment, frustration, and conflict (see Martha in Luke 10:38-42).
What might be one area where God is inviting you to quit overfunctioning for someone out of a motive of love?
To read more, see chapter 6 of The Emotionally Healthy Woman: Eight Things You Have to Quit to Change Your Life (Zondervan, 2013).