When we cross the line into “fixing” our ministries instead of leading them forward to greener pastures, we are overfunctioning. Overfunctioning can be defined as: doing for others what they can and should do for themselves. Distinguishing when we have crossed that line into overfunctioning requires discernment, courage, and at times, wise counsel from others.
In this podcast, I introduce this large theme by inviting you to listen to Geri’s reading of the audio version of an outstanding chapter out of The Emotionally Healthy Woman called “Quit Overfunctioning.” By the time you finish, it will make sense why quitting overfunctioning is foundational to 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.
For example, you will be introduced to four realities that should motivate us to make this a critical 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).
There is much more in this podcast, of course. And next week I will expand on the content of this chapter by exploring more specific applications to leading our churches and teams.